Red Mass is an annual tradition held at the opening of the judicial year. While this is a Catholic Mass, it is an ecumenical event which celebrates judges, legal professionals, law faculty and public officials of all faiths in the spirit of the new papacy. The Mass honors all those who work to maintain justice and freedom for society. Red Mass in the United States was inaugurated in New York City on October 6, 1928 at Old St. Andrew's Church on Duane Street. Regularly in October, the Red Mass in Washington D.C. opens the new term of the U.S. Supreme Court.
This venerable custom originated in Europe in the 13th century. From the time of Edward I, the mass was offered at Westminster Abbey and received its name from the scarlet robes worn by the Lord High Justices who were joined by the university professors in red academic gowns. Today the Catholic judges assemble at the Westminster Cathedral for the celebration of the Red Mass. In France, the inauguration of the judicial year was celebrated annually at the famous Sainte-Chapelle. Although the chapel was desecrated during the French Revolution, it was restored by Louis Phillipe and dedicated exclusively to the use of the "Messe Rouge." In 1906, the Parliament securalized the chapel and the celebration transferred to Saint-Germaine-l'Auzerrois.
The 35th annual Red Mass will be celebrated in Los Angeles, on Tuesday October 17, 2017.