Red Doors??? At St. Francis

Ever seen something like this before?

From The Rev. Allan Sandlin

“At the April meeting of the St. Francis Vestry, a motion was made to paint the doors of church with the color red. The idea had been discussed at previous vestry meetings and thus, following some discussion, the motion passed unanimously. The work will take place sometime in the near future and is offered in memory of long-time parishioner Mary Semler. Mary served as chair of the Altar Guild, needle pointer extraordinaire (she was responsible for the artistry of many of our kneelers) and Senior Warden. She died in 2022 at the age of 99.”

From Vestry member, Bill Gould

“Every Episcopal Church I ever attended or was a member of had a red door including the one I was baptized at by my grandfather who was the priest at the Church the Crucifixion in Philadelphia.

Historically, churches painted their doors red to signal those fleeing violence that they were places of sanctuary. The present world is full of people who are looking for places to find peace, comfort and forgiveness. Some call it tradition, but the deeper reason is the firm belief that these churches are places of refuge.

Many people come to the Episcopal Church from other traditions and denominations in the belief that churches are not clubs for saints but hospitals for sinners. So, just as hospitals display a red cross, they use red doors to announce that we are a place of healing and restoration. These parishes help the wounded put their lives back together and provide comfort in time of need. These doors are open wide to welcome all people in.

In the beginning of cathedral architecture, as it was believed that red stood for the Blood of Christ, red was painted on the north, south, and east doors of a church. In other words, they were making “the sign of the cross” which ultimately marked the church as a safety zone from spiritual dangers in addition to protection from physical harm.

The tradition of red doors originated in England during the Middle Ages. If you were being pursued by someone, you would be safe if you could reach the church door. No one would dare commit violence on holy ground; furthermore, the Church didn’t have to abide by civil law. Pursuers could proceed no further, and victims knew that the red doors meant sanctuary, refuge, and safety. The person who claimed sanctuary like this could state his case to the priest and ask for justice to be served.

Today many Episcopal churches, as well as Lutheran, Methodist, Roman Catholic and others, paint their doors red to symbolize that they are a haven for emotional and spiritual healing, a place to seek physical safety and a place for forgiveness and reconciliation.”

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