Each year the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and the St. Thomas More Society host the Annual Red Mass, where judges, lawyers, law students, law faculty, law enforcement, court personnel, and their families and friends gather together, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we strengthen our resolve to face the challenges of our times.
Join us after Mass as we share a buffet dinner where we will acknowledge some of the exemplary work of a few of Orange County’s catholic legal professionals.
History of the Red Mass
The custom originated in Europe in the 13th century and received its distinguished name from the brilliant scarlet vestments worn by the Mass celebrant and Lord High Justices in England.
This unique Mass for the Bench and Bar has been celebrated for many centuries all over the world. Its roots can be traced back to Paris, France where the first recorded “Red Mass” took place in 1245. It was held for centuries in the chapel of the Order of Advocates, La Sainte Chapelle, built by Louis IX. In certain localities of France, the Red Mass was celebrated in honor of St. Ives, the patron Saint of Lawyers. In England, the tradition 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.
In keeping with our country’s rich tradition of religious freedom and diversity, the Red Mass has continued in the United States. The first Red Mass in the U.S.A. was held at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Detroit in 1877. Each year in Washington, D.C., the members of the United States Supreme Court join the President and members of Congress in celebration of the Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew at the opening of the judicial year. The Red Mass is also celebrated in Sacramento and most other state capitals and major cities throughout the United States.
The St. Thomas More Society of Orange County celebrated its first Red Mass in Orange County in 1988 with many jurists and members of the Bar actively participating. The Red Mass has become as much a tradition here as it is throughout the United States and other parts of the world.
Support the Annual Red Mass
“The Red Mass in Orange County is an honored tradition that brings the legal community together and reminds us of the lawyer’s duty as a servant to his client and to justice and equity in the law."
Bill Malecki, Esq. | Chair of the Red Mass Committee