From a priest:
A quick question: a woman approached me wondering if there was anything inappropriate in wearing a white veil as an older, married woman. She was told by another parishioner that white is only proper for young women who are not married. Is there any rule or tradition that can be pointed to as a guide?
Does it really make a difference?
Okay… that was the wrong question. What was I thinking? All questions having to do with what women wear in church are important questions.
Leaving aside the fact that even in the day when head coverings were obligatory for women they could fulfill their obligation by wearing a hat, my understanding… and believe me when I tell you that I have made a long and deep study of this, not… is that married women tended to wear black veils. Certainly widows would. Unmarried women and girls – without any question virgins every one – wore white veils, white being a sign of virginity, which is proven in each and every wedding.
Of course there are any number of proofs to the contrary of both these uses of black and white.
So… as a man, I say: What difference does it make? Wear what it pleaseth thee to wear.
I think that this custom of women wearing head coverings in church should be revived. As it revives, if the virginal desire to wear white to signal either their nuptial availability or, in the case of consecrated virgins, their nonavailability, great! If the espoused want to show either that they are non-nubile by using black, great! If they want as widows to signal their continuing attitude of prayer for their late spouses, great!
What would a gray veil mean? I wonder. Perhaps that the woman is hoping to be a widow? That she is divorced?
I would avoid veils that imitate liturgical colors other than white and black. The red veil however, was used in ancient Rome for brides. I think in China brides had red, because it called down good fortune and prosperity. Also, avoid the use of sports or product logos, though I suppose the weave of the lace could include religious symbols, such as the … I don’t know… pelican in her piety?
And so we’re off to the races again.