Shepherd's Cross Christian Through The Red Door Salvation Outreach Ministry

The Red Door

Symbol of Sanctuary in the Middle Ages;"warning to pursuers": "…the red door tradition originated during the Middle Ages in England when it was a sign of sanctuary. In those days, if one who was being pursued by the local populace, shire reeve (sheriff) or gentry could reach the church door he/she would be safe. Nobody would dare to do violence on hallowed ground and, in any case, the Church was not subject to civil law. The red door was fair warning to pursuers that they could proceed no further. One who claimed sanctuary in this way would then be able to present his/her case before the priest and ask that justice be served." -RonMc

Radical and controversial symbols (19th & early 20th century): "… Obviously, there is no one definitive answer to this query. The story as it was delivered to me is that church doors were painted red - as a sign of sanctuary, - as a reminder of the Passover, - as a sign of the Holy Spirit, - as a reminder of the Martyrs etc… all of the things mentioned. And yes this history is long and goes back indeed to the Middle Ages (or perhaps even to the time of the Torah in the Hebrew Scriptures). However, with all of this rich imagery abounding it still was the case in Great Britain and Canada in the 19th and early 20th century that only certain parishes painted their doors red. These were Anglo-Catholic parishes of the Oxford Movement (at least this was how it was reported to me by Urban Anglo-Catholic slum priests in Detroit and Toronto). In addition, a cross might appear on the parish steeple on these parishes. These were bold and controversial symbols at one time. Candles on the altar, liturgical vestments, Processional Crosses, Red Doors, Steeple Crosses, Weekly Eucharist, (not mention incense, bells, and lights that twinkle - ie votive candles) these were all considered radical. …The American Church experience has always been more eclectic. A few decades ago "High Church" or "Anglo-Catholic" parishes probably had red doors more commonly than "Liberal Protestant Parishes" (these were far more common in the American experience than the Evangelical parishes of Britain and Canada). …" -Kenneth M. Near, Rector St. Paul's Church, Englewood, NJ