The “Red Mass” is a historical tradition within the Catholic Church dating back to the thirteenth century when it officially opened the term of the court for most European countries.
The celebrants–government officials, lawyers and judges–would proceed into a church clothed in red vestments or red garments, signifying the fire of the Holy Spirit’s guidance to all who pursue justice in their daily lives.
This important historic tradition was introduced into the United States in 1928 in the Church of St. Andrew, located in New York City. The Mass was presided over by His Eminence Patrick Cardinal Haves, who strongly encouraged and supported the involvement of the legal community in spreading the Word of God.
The Red Mass is currently celebrated in dioceses throughout the United States, including many of the dioceses of Florida, to invoke God’s blessing upon the members of the Bench, Bar, Legislature, Law Enforcement and Governmental agencies, all protectors and administrators of the Law.
The St. Thomas More Society of South Florida was officially founded on December 14, 1989. A Red Mass was first celebrated in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, by His Excellency, Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy on February 10, 1990, at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. Since that time it has been celebrated yearly, and it, as well as the reception that follows, is now one of the premier and largest-attended annual events for lawyers and judiciary in South Florida.
At the reception each year, a distinguished speaker addresses an audience of as many as 580 attendees and The Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy Award is presented to a member of the legal community who typifies the moral principles espoused by St. Thomas More.