So… What is Red Mass, Exactly?

by Lori Corso

Red Mass at Villanova Unversity School of Law

Red Mass at Villanova Unversity School of Law

On August 28th, Villanova University School of Law will celebrate its annual Red Mass. This special mass is held to “invoke God’s blessing and guidance in the administration of justice” upon all who teach or study at the law school. It gets its name from the red vestments worn by the presiding clergy. Students, faculty, alumni and friends of all denominations are invited to attend the mass in the Villanova Chapel. The homilies (sermons) typically discuss the most pressing social and legal issues of the day (from civil rights in the 1960s to corruption in the 1970s and the threat of nuclear war in the 1980s) and serve as an energizing reminder of why we have entered the legal profession. The Villanova Choir and other Villanova musicians provide excellent music for the service. Following the mass is a complimentary reception in the Arthur M. Goldberg ’66 Commons. The reception is always a hit and has been described as having “sumptuous food and [a] fine selection of beverages.”

Here are some other Red Mass fun facts—many taken from “The Docket,” the law school’s student newspaper which ceased publication in 2001:

Villanova University President Edmund Dobbin Presiding Over Red Mass in 1990

Villanova University President Edmund Dobbin Presiding Over Red Mass in 1990

The Post-Mass Reception at the Law School

The Post-Mass Reception at the Law School

Other questions remain. What social issue will the homily address this year? Will the faculty melt under their academic robes since Red Mass is being held in August instead of the traditional October or September? Will there be a tower of shrimp at the reception? Come to Red Mass and find out!

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