To Wear a Veil or Not to Wear a Veil: That is the Question

veils by lily almondine mantilla 2

Photo used with permission from Veils By Lily. All rights reserved.


I have seen old photos of my baptism, my sister’s baptism, and other special occasions that took place in church. In them I always noticed that my mom always wore a “mantilla,” lace headcovering. I remember asking her once or twice, “Why did you wear a veil?” she always said, “That’s what you did back then, out of respect.”

At that time, I asked her out of curiosity and because I thought my mom looked pretty. I was curious because in the mid-seventies into the eighties I didn’t see women, in church, wearing mantillas anymore. This question about covering one’s head in church didn’t come back into my mind until my son was about 2 years old; he is now eight.

I ran across a blog that posted a young woman’s perspective on why she wore a mantilla and why it was important to her. I was intrigued so I began doing some searches on google to see what I would find. To my amazement there were many women of all ages who still covered their heads when they went to church.

The more I read the more curious I became. I decided to order a mantilla and wore it a few times, but felt like I was drawing attention to myself. At the Mass I attended, there was not a soul who wore one. So I stopped.

Last year after my son made his First Communion in May, the idea came back to me; was it because of my son or was it because I had grown in my faith and in my relationship with our Lord?  As a mom, I am always trying to model how much I believe in our Lord and his Church to bring my son closer to our Lord every day.

So I bought a smaller one that fit right on top of my head and began my head-covering journey again. After two times of wearing it to Mass, my son asked, “Why do you wear that on your head?” Yeah, the question I have been waiting for and I answered.

It has been almost a year now that I wear a lace mantilla that is stretchy and ties, and love it.  Now, I always carry it in my purse so that if I can stop and visit our Lord I have it with me.

On Sundays you will find me in church wearing it with a smile. In the end, it’s not about me; it’s about the love I feel for our Lord.

“ Have you thought about wearing a mantilla?” Do you know someone who has or does?

Copyright 2015 Elizabeth Desiderato.
Photo used with permission from Veils By Lily. All rights reserved.


About Author

Elizabeth Estrada, a public school teacher, is an avid reader and enjoys crafting. She serves as a Catechist and resides in the Diocese of Dallas with her son Agustin.


      • Vicki,

        I’ll describe my process as succinctly as possible! I usually make triangular and semi-circular veils. If you’ve got a decent fabric store nearby, look in the bridal and costume sections for nice lace, and then in the craft section for edging/trim.

        If you’ve got a veil that you like the shape of, you can use it for a pattern for cutting your lace. Or, use a seamstress’s measuring tape to decide how long in the front and sides you want the veil, and use a ruler to trace the pattern onto a large piece of paper. It’s easiest to trace half of it, so that one edge becomes the middle fold of the veil (then, if you fold the fabric, you only have to do half of the cutting.)

        Once you’ve cut the lace to the size of veil that you would like, it’s a simple matter of stitching the trim on with a basic running stitch. At the corners, you’ll have to play around with it; either miter the corners, or overlap depending on the shape. Sometimes, the lace will have a nice selvage it that you can use for the front straight edge that goes around the face; in that case, you could put your trim only on the other edges.

        If it’s not as clear as you would like, or if you’re not used to sewing, let me know – I’d be more than happy to explain better! Honestly, I kinda reinvent the wheel for most of my veils, and forget to keep the measurements around. I’ll be making a black veil soon, for my mom, so perhaps I’ll take pictures and make a blog post out of it.

  1. Emily Bartkowicz on

    I cover my head before entering the Church. It’s a beautiful sign of respect and a practice I wish I saw more of. Personally I prefer to wear a scarf versus a lace veil, and the are very easy to find at many different stores.

  2. Cindy Coleman on

    After thinking about it for months, I started wearing a veil to church on Ash Wednesday (it is a black lace infinity scarf). I was the only women wearing a lace (at least that I saw) in any of the 4 churches I have attended over these few months. I do feel like stick out but I have received a few positive comments, e.g., “I forgot how much I missed seeing women wearing veils until I saw yours” and last Sunday “I wanted to tell you that veil looks classy.” One women asked if I was the member of a third order that required it. I think other than her, the only ones to ask me outright why I am wearing a veil are several of the children in my 2nd grade religious education class. I told them simply it was out of respect for Jesus in the Eucharist. They are preparing for First Holy Communion so I think that made sense to them.

    • Cindy, that is a great story. Sounds like you are a great example to your class. It does take some thought and prayer prior to starting to practice head covering. How did you feel that first Ash Wednesday wearing your veil?

  3. I wear one. I do it as a sign of respect for the Blessed Sacrament. I especially find it helpful because I attend mass with my three small children and am often distracted and unmindful during mass. It offers me a way to have a physical sign of respect while I need to attend to my children. I also feel more focused and purposeful with it on. I think it is a wonderful tradition, but I am also glad it is a personal choice – it makes it more meaningful than if we were still compelled to wear it.

  4. I was just thinking about this on Sunday! I have only worn a mantilla once to church…on my wedding day. I have observed at least 3 young women in my parish that wear them to Mass every Sunday, and it reminded me of pictures that I have seen of First Ladies visiting the Pope at the Vatican. I really appreciate the symbol of love, respect, and tradition that the mantilla represents. Thank you for the post!

  5. Elizabeth, great post. The idea of wearing a mantilla/chapel veil is compelling. Two summers ago while on vacation was the first time I really noticed anyone wearing a mantilla. She was only about 14 but it really stuck out to me. That fall I noticed the first woman wearing one at our church.

    “Have you thought about wearing a mantilla?” Do you know someone who has or does?

    I bought my first mantilla a year ago. I know of people who wear them, but no one I know by name other than me so far.

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