The date for this yearís Red Mass will be Thursday, October 23, 2014 at noon at Sacred Heart Church in Downtown Tampa. It will be concelebrated by Bishop Robert Lynch and by Guild member and former U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Fr. Timothy Corcoran.

All are invited, regardless of religious affiliation.

THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE RED MASS The custom of a special Mass for the Bench and Bar arose principally in England, France, and Italy in the early 13th Century. The first recorded Red Mass was celebrated in the year 1245 in Paris. For many centuries, the Red Mass was celebrated in the chapel of the Order of Advocates, La Sainte Chapelle, which was built by King Louis IX of France -- later canonized as Saint Louis. In certain localities of France, the Red Mass was celebrated in honor of Saint Ives, the Patron Saint of Lawyers, who was born in Brittany in 1253 and canonized in 1347. In England, the tradition of the Red Mass began about 1310 during the reign of Edward I. The entire Bench and Bar attended the Red Mass together at the opening of each term of Court. Since the priest celebrant wore red robes, the judges of the High Court in the time of Edward I, who were all doctors of the law, conformed to the ecclesiastical tradition and also wore red robes. As a consequence, the celebration became popularly known as the Red Mass.

The use of red garments continues today because of itís representation of the Holy Sprit in Roman Catholic ritual. Today, many scholars maintain that the name has a deeper origin. The liturgical color red signifies the willingness to defend the truth inspired by the Holy Spirit. Since in the Mass we invoke the aid of the Holy Spirit upon the work of practitioners of the law, the devotion is called the Red Mass. For the most part the Red Mass is like any other Roman Catholic Mass. A sermon is given, the message which is delivered has an overlapping political and religious theme. The Mass is also an opportunity for the Catholic Church to express its goals for the coming year. The most significant difference between the Red Mass and a traditional Mass is that the focuses of prayer and blessings concentrate on the leadership roles of those present. Guidance from the Holy Sprit is asked to be bestowed on the congregants. Other blessings that are commonly requested to prevail in the minds, offices, and court rooms are Divine strength, wisdom, truth, and justice. Peace and friendship are exchanged among the congregation, the sacraments are given, and the Mass is commenced.

The first American Red Mass was organized to promote Vatican policies. It was held at the Church of St. Andrew in New York City in 1928. After 1928 only a few Red Masses were held. But since 1953 Red Masses have been held annually in Washington DC. The Red Mass is now celebrated annually in more than half the states of the United States. For almost 60 years, the United States Supreme Court has celebrated a Red Mass each year prior to the opening of its Annual Term in October. The Supreme Court has and will continue to face cases involving the separation of church and state, and the Red Mass event is considered controversial by some, even though it attracts leaders from different religious backgrounds.
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