To Veil or Not to Veil: The Modern Question

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"To veil or not to veil" by Elena LaVictoire (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: By Daniele Zanni (2013), , CC BY NC-SA 2.0

As a girl growing up in the 1960s, I was used to veiling every Sunday. The little girls had pretty, white flowing lace veils and older ladies like my mom and grandma wore black lacy veils. My mother even had a small round doily-like veil that she wore on the top of her head when she played the organ. She said it stayed out of her way while she was playing.

I remember that if you forgot your veil, you had to do something makeshift, like putting a Kleenex on your head and holding it there with a bobby pin. My young classmates and I had a strange fear that something bad would happen if we tip toed into church without wearing the mandatory veil or hat.  As an elementary school student, I wouldn’t dare.

But as the ’70s came along and the Mass changed, the veil disappeared quickly. None of my friend’s moms wore a veil anymore, and we quit wearing them too. I didn’t even think about it.

Occasionally, we’d see a famous woman visiting the Vatican and she inevitably would be wearing a veil to visit the Pope. That would be the only thing that reminded me that veiling used to be a real thing we did in the Church. Outside of yard sales, I’m wasn’t even sure where to get a new chapel veil.

But over the past couple of years I’ve started to see something unique in the church. Younger women ARE wearing veils to Mass. Not only are they wearing them for Mass, but they’re wearing them even if they’re wearing slacks and a shirt or sweater  — they’re not just for dresses any more.

Images of women veiling started showing up in my Instagram feed, and even on Etsy and Amazon. I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, I’d like to start veiling myself.

Like most things in this modern life, that would not be without some controversy. I probably couldn’t and shouldn’t wear it when I play with our more contemporary music ministry. There are certain people who have told me that they think women who veil look ridiculous – so I’d probably want to steer clear of those people at church too if I were to start wearing one.

But the longing is there, and I think the winter would be a good time to start – who could begrudge an older woman trying to keep her head warm in church?

Along with the desire to give this a try is also a sadness — a sort of grief at the years that even this option seemed unavailable to women in the American church. I feel sad when I look at my daughters, both of whom I think would look stunning in a church veil, and my 6-year-old granddaughter, who has never seen one!

I might be taking the leap soon. My son asked me what I wanted for Christmas and along with my usual request for socks and oven mitts, I added “A pretty veil to wear to church.” He was stunned. But then he said, “I got you mom. I know a girl, who knows someone who makes these at school.”  Maybe this will be one of the benefits of having him attend a Catholic College.

So how about you? Any thoughts, feelings, concern about wearing a veil in church?


Copyright 2019 Elena La Victoire

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About Author

Elena LaVictoire has been married to her high school sweet heart for over 30 years. They have six children (from 26 to 10) who were all homeschooled. When she's not homeschooling or playing with her 2-year-old granddaughter, she blogs regularly about her issues and events that affect her family at mydomesticchurch.com.

8 Comments

  1. Monica Portogallo on

    I have thought about it, but I worry I might draw attention to myself and distract the people around me, since not many women in my parish wear them. I don’t wear revealing or really brightly colored clothing to Mass for the same reason.
    I have been thinking about maybe wearing inconspicuous hats, but I don’t own any yet.

  2. Elisabeth Akers on

    I veiled as an Anglican Catholic but didn’t truly understand the Real Presence. Now that I have a better understanding, I never go without my veil. When I think of who He is — the true King of heaven and earth — and that He has condescend to allow me to be before Him in the Eucharist and receive Him into my own body, I am stunned by his mercy. And then when I consider what He has called me to in womanhood, and that I am following after Mary herself, I see veiling as a humble acceptance of those many graces.

    This sermon helped me so much in understanding the reasons for veiling. Please say a Rosary for this priest if you listen to his homily. God bless you.

    https://youtu.be/nqmV8UNYbB8

  3. Sandra M Eighmie on

    I returned to veiling about a year ago. I felt conspicuous at first since I was the only one with a veil but am now quite comfortable and even Lector while veiled. The only persons who approached me was a young woman in our choir who has started to veil now and one of our altar servers who wants to veil. I gave each a veil to use when they feel like it.
    I veil because I believe tht he honors God and shows my effort to serve him. I also find it helps me to focus on the Mass more ….insulating me from distractions around me. In general, the members of my congregation have accepted my veiling without comment or question. I had approached my confessor before I started as to my reasoning and he had no problem with my decision. I would suggest it to any female parishioner.

  4. What is the concept behind veiling? I’ve always thought it beautiful but wanted to justify it by knowing the reason behind it.

  5. I’ve had 2 veils for several years now and have only worn them in adoration–which btw I think is a great place to start. We have a just few women in our large parish that wear them but I just can’t seem to bring myself to do it. I keep thinking if just a few more would, then I would too. And yes, I keep wondering if there are plenty of others thinking the same thing!

  6. I have childhood memories of my maternal grandmother veiling. After she died, I didn’t see women veiling until a few years ago I saw the women at my parents’ parish veiling. I began to research as to the reason women veiled in the past and soon began to veil when going to adoration. I began the Consecration to Jesus through Mary and it was then that I felt the call to veil at mass as well. There are a couple of women who veil at my parish but it does feel strange when I attend Mass at a parish in which no one veils. At times like these that I am reminded that Holy Mass is about coming before our Lord to worship and giving Him the reverence that is befiting to a king.

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