The Philippine Islands this coming Friday, 8 December, shall again exercise her privilege of using cerulean vestments for all Masses in honour of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in all churches, chapels, and oratories. Saint Pius X granted this indult on 11 February 1910 at the request of the Fathers of the First Provincial Council of Manila.
After Mass, we are to renew the consecration of the Philippines to the Immaculate Mother of God.
Cerulean is indeed a very beautiful and unique colour. The privilege to use it has been extended and, theoretically, can still be extended to only a few countries and places, mostly within the Spanish ambit, or formerly under the jurisdiction of the Spanish Crown . Some monasteries outside the Spanish world in general petitioned and succeeded in securing permission to use cerulean, yet the indult was predicated on the communities’ ability to prove that it had links with Spain .
Precisely because the colour is unique in that it is strikingly Marian, many in the EF use it not only on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, but on practically all feasts of the Blessed Virgin! Pecca fortiter, as they say. Pure art and sound aesthetics has never been the sole consideration for using a particular colour at Mass. There are laws that govern the liturgy. While it has been practically shown otherwise (not without our horror and consternation), we must ensure that the quality and artistic value of the vestments are not above Roman authority. We can contribute to this goal by requesting permission first before using cerulean.
Somehow, the situation is complicated by the unavailability of the text of the original decree which was withdrawn from official publication to prevent other countries outside the ambit of the Spanish Realm from daring to request similar privileges, as far as the use of cerulean vestments in the feast of the Immaculate Conception is concerned .
Those possessing no indult can in the meantime use white with cerulean ornaments. Care, however, must be taken not to cover the base white fabric with too many decorations. Remember the precedence established by the Palafox affair: The archbishop of Seville, Don Jaime de Palafox y Cardona, complained to the Sacred Congregation of Rites about a set of vestments—made of silk, in a field of white, outlined in cerulean with golden flowers—used by the cathedral chapter for the Immaculate Conception; having seen the chasuble sent by the chapter to Rome, the Congregation declared that the vestments cannot be used because cerulean is not a liturgical colour . Cerulean was used only as outlines to the white vestments, and yet Rome considered the set unabashedly cerulean! Indeed, moderation will work wonders in no-indult cases.
In the end, we have to understand why the original decree was withdrawn from publication. There is a simple explanation why cerulean is not universally approved for Marian feasts: While its use in the liturgy has been attested in the first centuries of Christianity , its liturgical use in the Latin Rite in connection with the Mother of God cannot be traced back earlier than the 15th century . The editors of the EL tellingly writes: S. R. C. legis observantiam peroptat . This means that the Sacred Congregation of Rites strongly preferred observance of the law.
Legal matters aside, let us salute each other on Friday ¡Ave, María Purísima!, with the response ¡Sin pecado concebida!
Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.
 Sacred Congregation of Rites, Ordinary and Extraordinary Faculties of the Sacred Congregation of Rites (7 September 1903): ASS 36 (1903–4) 418.
 Peter Anson, Blue vestments: Liturgical Arts 29 (1960) –.
 Amedeo Mancini, M. A., Solutio ad quaestionem solvendam pro mense maio 1900, at footnote 1 (concerning the decree of 12 February 1884): EL 14 (1900) 352–356.
 Simón de la Rosa y López, Los seises de la catedral de Sevilla (1904) 294–295.
 Germán Prado, O. S. B., Historia del rito mozárabe y toledano (Burgos, 1928) 107.
 Peter Anson, ibid.
 Amedeo Mancini, M. A., ibid.