Bright Colors as Bishop is Consecrated

Yesterday’s front-page picture of Morgunblaðið, showing a procession of bishops, ministers and deacons in Skálholt, South Iceland, as a new bishop was consecrated, caught the attention of many for its vivid colors. Bishops came from four foreign countries to be present when Kristján Björnsson, the newly elected bishop of Skálholt, the oldest Icelandic bishopric, was inaugurated by Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, the bishop of Iceland. Three of the foreign bishops wore a miter, a headdress not worn by bishops in Iceland. 

“There is no universal rule stipulating that a bishop should wear specific colors,” Þorvaldur Víðisson, assistant to the bishop of Iceland, told Morgunblaðið, but the color combination and choice of print on a bishop’s cope can refer to events in the history of the church in the respective country.”

During the 13th century, Pope Innocent III initiated certain rules of reference, which have since been followed, according to Þorvaldur. “White is the color of celebration and purity and, therefore, the color of major celebrations, but yellow and gold are also used on such occasions … Purple is the color of repentance and redemption and, therefore, used during fast and Advent. Green stands for hope and growth and is the color of Sundays after the thirteenth day of Christmas and Sundays after Trinity Sunday.”

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