Processions, music and ritual unite legal community during Red Mass

By Teresita Pinon for Today’s Catholic

With the traditional fall start of the judicial year, law students and members of the San Antonio legal community prepare to join together in faith and dedication for the common good at a unique celebration known as Red Mass.

The 67th Annual Red Mass will take place on Thursday, Oct. 24, at 6 p.m. in the San Fernando Cathedral.

Vincent R. Johnson, J.D., LL.D., interim dean of the St. Mary’s University School of Law, will give the welcome remarks. Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, will be the principal celebrant and homilist.

The first Red Mass was celebrated in 13th century France at La Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. Built by King Louis IX, La Sainte-Chappelle was designed for the exclusive use of the Courts of Justice and is closely associated with the Paris bar. Red Mass is celebrated to invoke the light of the Holy Spirit on the conduct of the courts and the law.

The meaning behind Red Mass remains the same, even after making its way to the United States in 1928 and San Antonio nearly 70 years ago.

“The Red Mass tradition is now more popular in America than ever before,” Johnson said. “The popularity of the Red Mass may be attributable to the fact that the service is now typically an intra-faith event that welcomes not only Catholics and adherents of the other Abrahamic faiths, but also anyone who is interested in the fair administration of justice.”

Judges, attorneys, court reporters, paralegals and other court personnel are welcome to attend alongside members of the St. Mary’s community.

“That first Mass brought to me such a greater love for this very special celebration and blessing for all areas of the law,” said Susi Boss, District 5 director for the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas.

Johnson called it the “most splendid public event of the legal year.”

“Combining majestic processions and great music with high church rituals, Red Mass evokes the transcendence of religion, the mysteries of the medieval era and the hope that the rule of law can be used to build a better world,” Johnson said.

Teresita Pinon is a third-year law student at the St. Mary’s University School of Law and an editor for the School of Law Dean’s Research Fellows.

Red Mass at San Fernando Cathedral

Today's Catholic Newspaper

Be an informed Catholic by subscribing to Today's Catholic Newspaper online! Save time by renewing or purchasing for yourself, friend, or family member. Click on the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of this page to find out more. #iamTodaysCatholic