QUAERITUR: What’s with the rings?

From a priest reader:

I have a question either for you, or if you choose to publish it on your blog, for anyone who can answer it.

In the 3 parishes I’ve been assigned to in my 10+ years of Priesthood, I’ve noticed that many women who receive Holy Communion in the hand seem to turn their rings around, so that, when they come to me with their hands poised to receive, the jewels of their rings face their palms.  Any idea what’s behind that?  I’m sure it has nothing to do with any rubrics, but I’m wondering if there’s any tradition behind doing so (something like "turning the rings to "decorate" the place where the Host will be placed).  The parishes I’ve served in are in three different parts of New Jersey, so I’m sure it’s not a regional, geographic thing.

I have never noticed this, since I am not usually at a parish where any great number of folks receive in the hand.

My first reaction is that the women are turning their rings around so that they don’t catch on things, snag clothing, etc.  I doubt very much it has anything to do with "decorating" their hands for Communion.

Perhaps some ladies will chime in… unless explaining this violates the Secret Rules and Tactics that are constantly being discussed in those unending strategy meetings going on in the "powder rooms" to which they always seem to withdraw in pairs or small groups.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. “unless explaining this violates the Secret Rules and Tactics that are constantly being discussed in that unending strategy meetings going on in the “powder rooms” to which they always seem to withdraw in pairs or small groups.”

    (giggle-snort) you got that straight, can make a mans life hell

    Thank you Father

  2. Megan says:

    A priest mentioned in a homily several years ago that he knew many women who would turn their rings when receiving communion in the hand as a gesture meant to form a jeweled crown for the Body of Christ. I have adopted the practice ever since and always turn my ring to face the Lord when receiving communion in the hand.

  3. Joan says:

    Well, I hope some woman will tell me what that is all about! I have no idea, never having heard of the practice before!! Neither do I know anything about secret rules or tactics – but then I normally go to the powder room alone!! Yeah, I know – I’m a strange woman!!

  4. RichR says:

    It seems pretty simple to me (even though I’m a man).

    You wear your wedding ring on your left hand. Most people are right-handed, and therefore receive the Host on their let hand so they can pick It up with their right hand and place It in their mouths. If you “create a throne” (obligatory eye roll) with your left hand cupped in your right hand palm-facing-upwards, the diamond sticking out from your ring can irritate your right palm. Thus, you turn it around for comfort’s sake.

  5. I think the ladies should plot to get rid of Communion in the hand by teaching their children to receive on the tongue.

  6. Charivari Rob says:

    I’ve never heard any woman make reference to doing that particularly to receive communion. I have heard women say it is a routine practice – either for avoiding snags, etc. (as Father said) or as a security measure (not displaying jewels for risk of attracting thieves or worse).

  7. Kathy says:

    Father George, that’s exactly what happened to my husband and me. When it was time for our son to make his First Communion, we decided to teach him from the start to receive on the tongue and that ended Communion in the hand for us. Thank God for our kids, they are always making us grow and get better!

  8. My wife will sometimes turn her rings around to avoid scratching our younger (and fidgety) children. Did any of these women have little ones with them?

  9. Christa says:

    Father Z,

    Apparently some women do this, reading the replies. However, I have been working around the house this morning and just now looked down at my hands. Both my engagement ring on my left hand and a small ring on my right hand are both turned around. With me it happens because my rings fit slightly loose but cannot be tightened because then they won’t pass over my knuckles. So they move.

    I would probably be one who had the jewels turned inward but it would simply be acccidental, and not indicative of anything other than I didn’t notice.

  10. TJ Murphy says:

    In regards to rings and communion.
    I know of a deacon who used to turn his college class ring around so the stone was on the palm side. The reason he did this was because some of the older women in the church were afraid of being hit by the ring as they were receiving communion if he had worn it the regular way.

  11. Sue says:

    I think that in the majority of cases it’s accidental. If your rings aren’t tight they roll around and wind up backwards on your finger. I’ve been using ladies’ rooms
    my whole life, and I’ve never heard this discussed.

  12. chironomo says:

    Ditto with what Rich said…

    My wife will often turn her rings around “jewel side in” to avoid catching on little kids, coats, etc… I don’t know if this is their reason, but it’s not all that uncommon a thing to do…

  13. Rouxfus says:

    Just last week at a weekday mass in line to receive communion I noticed a woman sitting down after having received the sacrament, and she deliberately covered up her engagement ring, which was a cluster of jumbo rocks the width of her ring finger, with a finger from her right hand. The thought crossed my mind she may have been doing so out of embarrassment at the extravagant concentration of wealth, which had to be in the six figures, mounted on the one digit.

  14. Peggy says:

    I receive on the tongue since before marriage. My rings are a bit loose and do turn toward my palm often. I quit wearing my rings around the house to avoid injury, snags or damage while cleaning or playing w/the kids. I jammed a finger getting my engagement ring caught on something last winter while packing some boxes of old stuff. I also don’t wear them to swim. I had damage to my wedding ring after swimming with it over the summer. It cracked.

  15. dymphna says:

    On the rare occasion when I recieve on the tounge
    my ring is turned round so I don’t scratch the EM
    with the big ole rock.

  16. Amy says:

    If my ring is turned around, it is either by chance or because it was snagging my veil.

    Fr. George – the “plotting” is well underway. :-)

  17. dcs says:

    If a ring might snag on something, wouldn’t one run the risk of “snagging” the Sacrament if it’s turned around on one’s finger?

  18. martin t. says:

    n the rare occasion when I recieve on the tounge
    my ring is turned round so I don’t scratch the EM
    with the big ole rock.

    A tounge ring?

  19. Rachel says:

    My rings are slightly loose and constantly turn inward on their own.

  20. tradone says:

    I never heard of this either in or outside of “powder rooms”.
    Although I makes me contemplate how many Sacred Host fragments get caught in, around and under the rings?
    Just wondering…

  21. Hugo says:

    Our pastor had a pierced tongue. Talk about creepy.

  22. Michelle says:

    I’m a lady whose wedding ring and engaement ring continually spins around on my hand. Sometimes it wears tighter or looser, depending upon temperature. I found that after having four children, my finger sizes changed, along with my weight. When pregnant, my rings fit tightly. For me at least, I’m not too conscious of my rings being turned around, it “just happens.” I’d hate to have my wedding and engagement rings sized smaller because then they would be “stuck” on my finger over the knuckle, which can be dangerous when doing work where one’s hand might get caught working with machinery or just inconvenient to clean when kneading bread dough or painting, etc. For some folks, doing that kind of activity requires taking them off sometimes.

    My best guess is that there may be other women like me out there who have rings that fit tighter or looser depending upon temperature or weight gain or loss. It happens. Lucky for us, Holy Communion at our home parish is offered only kneeling and on the tounge so the ring issue isn’t a problem for me there.

    This was an interesting observation by the priest who posted it.

    Peace in Christ.

  23. Paula says:

    I read this and thought, “Oh no, should I be turning my rings around?” It never occurred to me. However, after receiving Communion on the tongue a few times (standing–I’m afraid I’d fall over if I knelt without a rail), I returned to receiving in the hand, because I was afraid of the Host falling out of my mouth. So maybe I should think about my rings.

  24. Matt says:


    if your tongue is wet the host will stick to it making it almost impossible to fall out. Why did you try receiving on the tongue in the first place? Surely they were VERY good reasons?

    God Bless,


  25. California Girl says:

    I’ve worn my wedding ring for many years now, and sometimes it does indeed try to slip around on my finger and turn inward, especially if my hands are cold. But I just nudge it back into place if I need to.

    When I read above that women might be doing this on purpose to “decorate their hands for Communion” or “make a crown for the king”, my first thought was “What?!? Wouldn’t the stone possibly scratch the Host and create a Particle, that might then be inadvertantly dropped?????” If I was about to receive Communion and noticed that my ring had turned around, I would make a point of quickly turning it back so that only the smooth band might come in contact with the Host.

  26. Anne says:

    This all seem like a bunch of hooey. First, if we are so reverential to think of turning rings to create a “throne” then why not spare the Host your hands entirely and receive on the tongue? That seems to me to show more humility and isn’t it a bit ostentatious to believe that your garnet or diamond or whatever in any way glorifies God.

    Second, ladies, if your rings are snagging clothes, banging your kids, or breaking or slipping off when you clean, you need a trip to the jeweler’s to have them resized.

    Third, while we’re on the topic of uniquely feminine aspects of receiving Communion, our Sacristan’s pet peeve is women wearing lipstick and taking the Chalice. Either don’t receive the Blood, or wipe off your lipstick (or don’t wear any, good practice in avoiding vanity) before going. Lipstick stains the linens and is hard to clean off the chalice, as well as getting passed along to the next recipient.

  27. Maureen says:

    Re: particles under rings

    I’ve worn a class ring (much bulkier!) since high school — 24 hours a day — and have never caught so much as a particle of potato chip or a streak of grease under my ring. So I don’t see how a particle of the Host is going to get in there, except as a very freak, freak accident.

    There’s due diligence, and then there’s paranoia. :) Learn the difference, folks!

  28. ssoldie says:

    Oh! good grief, another idiotic inovation known as ‘fruits’ since Vatican II, really ladies, when does it stop.

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