Mantilla giveaway

It would be nice to see greater use by women of the chapel veil or mantilla.  While the chapel veil is no longer obligatory according to the canon law for of the Latin Church (I have written about that several times.  Here for example.), it is still a venerable custom and adds to the decorum for of the service.

From a reader:

Kelly from The Careless Catholic is having a giveaway on her blog, and the winner receives one of my crocheted mantillas! Be sure to visit her blog at for your chance to be the winner!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Christina says:

    Too bad my mantilla days have given way to head-scarves and hats (much more resistant to groping toddler fingers). There’s something so lovely about a mantilla, though, and I’m amazed that anyone can make one so beautiful!

  2. ndmom says:

    It would be nice if women were regarded as people first, rather than as accessories to enhance the “decorum” of the liturgy.
    I don’t mind at all if other women choose to wear veils. If it helps you to be recollected and prayerful, that’s wonderful. Unless someone is really inappropriately dressed, I don’t really pay attention to what others are wearing, or not wearing, at Holy Mass. What I do mind is the suggestion that women who choose NOT to cover their hair are somehow lacking in modesty. Or, dare I say it, decorum.
    Men who are distracted by women’s hair, or (Mass-appropriate) attire, should consult with a spiritual director to help them overcome such tendencies. They should not expect women to conceal their hair, or other aspects of their femininity, in order to help them maintain their own recollection. They can always choose to close their eyes in prayer during Mass if they are overcome by external distractions. And I promise to do the same when they refuse to remove their wailing toddler from the front pew during the Eucharistic Prayer.

  3. liongules says:

    In the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre the ladies wear mantillas as a part of their official dress and I think it looks very, very nice.

  4. The problem appears to be with the Blogger software itself. How strange: Google owns both Chrome and Blogger!

  5. MJ says:

    ndmom, I think you may have missed the point of why women wear mantillas. A comment box isn’t really the place to expound on “why the veil”, but here’s a start:

    From Alice von Hildebrand’s book “Women and the Priesthood”:
    “Women are definitely more mysterious than men, not only because their affective life is more complex and more refined, but especially because there is something in women that calls for veiling. It is not by accident that women traditionally wore a veil, and that, up to Vatican II, they wore veils in Catholic churches. This custom was deeply symbolic, and alas this symbolism is now lost. Under the influence of feminism, many Catholics were led to believe that veiling indicated some sort of inferiority, and for this reason it was abolished.
    This interpretation rests on a misunderstanding. Far from indicating inferiority, the veil points to sacredness. While we do cover what is ugly or decaying, we also veil what is sacred, mysterious, and sublime. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he covered his face to hide the glow that was apparent because God had deigned to speak with him: Moses’ body reflected the depth and mystery of his experience.
    Every woman carries within herself a secret most sacred, mysterious, and sublime. This secret is life. Eve means “the mother of the living.” In the mystery of the female body, human life finds its beginning. There God creates a new soul which is exclusively his work, and in which neither father nor mother has a part…” and so it continues on.

  6. ghp95134 says:

    My wife is not Catholic, but enjoys wearing a mantilla when we go into a Catholic church. She is Japanese and says the mantilla is commonly seen in Japan. An on-line search shows Urakami Cathedral, Nagasaki:
    Interesting: the Corpus is on the cross here, whereas at St. Mary’s (Tokyo) Cathedral … you’d think it was a Protestant church:

    More here: (yuck!)

  7. Exactly what I was going to comment on, MJ.

    In addition to St. Paul (1 Cor 11:15), it was pointed out to me by Dr. Alice that everything that is holy, mysterious (in the divine sense), and sacred in our Catholic Faith is veiled. A baldacchino ‘veils’ the altar. The Tabernacle is veiled. The humeral veil a priest uses during Benediction. And Chalice veils laid over the holy vessels.

    Women are, by their nature, the very vessels of life. And what better way to honor a woman’s cooperation with God in creating new souls for heaven than for her to be veiled as well?

    I am humbled before God for being able to carry another soul within my body…and I am not ashamed to veil my head in His presence.

    As G.K. Chesteron wrote, “No one staring at that frightful female privilege can quite believe in the equality of the sexes…” (What’s Wrong with the World).

    What a distinct honor to wear a mantilla!!!

    Excited about the mantilla giveaway, too.

  8. RichardR says:

    When I was younger American women wore hats to church. I remember when some young women began to wear the mantilla and how scandalized the older women were. The mantilla was consider a tacky/sloppy way of complying with the standard that women should cover their heads in church by women who were not really reverent. So perhaps, at least in the US, we should not promote the veil and demand that women wear real hats.
    I have to agree with ndmom. If unveiled women are such a distraction or if veiling is the way to recognize their sacredness, shouldn’t they go veiled all the time. Shouldn’t they cover their faces as well. Perhaps, to protect them, they should not be allowed to go out of the house without a male relative to protect them. I think there is precident for this.

  9. ndmom says:

    If women must be veiled because their sexual organs make them “holy,” then, by that logic, are men “profane”? As the mother of sons, I cannot accept that logic. Women do carry new life, but it takes both man and woman to create that new life. Both man and woman are made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore sacred, holy, and mysterious. Men also carry the seed of new life within their bodies, so why should they not also be veiled? Or, if not all men, then at least priests should be veiled, because they represent Christ in their very bodies.

    Can we not just accept that veils are a cultural remnant with little symbolic significance to most American Catholics? And that the decision to veil or not to veil should be regarded as a personal one, with no moral implication either way?

  10. melafwife says:

    Thanks Kelly for the Giveaway!
    I will not enter, only because I own several of Joy’s creations (the Melanie Chapel Cap is my favorite) and LOVE them!
    If you don’t agree with veiling or do not understand, ignore this post and move on. I do think it is important that ” A woman should not wear the veil on her head, until she is wearing it first on her heart. ”
    Many Blessings,

  11. Adrianne says:

    St. Paul is kind of enthusiastic about veiling (1 Cor. 1:11-17), and from his attitude towards dietary regulations & circumcision, you can see that he wasn’t unnecessarily stuck on the standards of the times. This calls for at least the entertainment of the possibility that he might have been on to something.

    As well, the symbolic value of the veil is lost when people choose not to wear the veil; that symbolic value does not disappear on its own, despite cultural trends. I doubt that any woman who chooses to wear the mantilla–or a hat, or a bandana–regularly to Mass for a month, will fail to internalize the symbolic value of that action. Of course she may not express it well, but she will notice a difference. My own observation about veiling, as a recent purchaser of my first mantilla, is simply that veiling does indeed set the time I spend in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament apart from other times of the day. Surely that is reason enough.

  12. MJ says:

    ndmom, you said, “Can we not just accept that veils are a cultural remnant with little symbolic significance to most American Catholics?”

    The answer is no. No because veils are not a cultural remnant with little symbolic significance to most American Catholics. ndmom and RichardR, with respect to your comments, you have entirely mistaken the point. Wearing a veil is not a “holier than thou” moment. A woman who wears the veil on her heart accepts the place that God gives to women in the Church, the family, and society. Women who wear the veil on their hearts are imitating the Virgin Mary in her humility, submissiveness, and obedience to Christ. It is symbolic of humility and obedience. The Virgin Mary wore a veil or head covering because she understood this symbol of the different roles given to men and women. Those women who wear the veil are imitating the Virgin Mary in her humility and submissiveness.

    The decision to veil or not to veil is, as Father Z pointed out, no longer obligatory according to the canon law of the Latin Church, therefore, the decision to wear one is indeed personal. No one should judge another based on their decision to wear or not to wear a veil. No one has attacked you because you prefer not to wear one, so perhaps you could show those of us who do prefer to wear one the same courtesy.

  13. 1. Of course it’s good to inform people of a nice giveaway contest. Yay, free!

    2. As I’ve said before, chapel veils and mantillas were not what Catholic women in my family ever wore on their heads. Wrong ethnicities. [In that case they must have worn hats. After all, if they didn’t have any head cover they would have been outside the Church’s law about women using head coverings. And surely that wasn’t the case.] So for me, if all Catholic women wore mantillas, it would be like someone decreeing that all Catholic traditional priests must croon like Crosby. For some that might seem natural; for many more, it would be stagey and not reflect tradition, except from a certain weird oblique angle. I’m sure it would be beautiful from a certain point of view; but not a very deep or wide one. [This seems to be an argument along the lines: My great-grandmother didn’t do this, so I won’t either. And yet we make use of all sort of things our parents and their parents, etc., didn’t have, including antibiotics and the Novus Ordo.]

    3. Of course it’s good to inform people of a nice giveaway. Yay, free!

  14. So nice that someone is giving away veils. I have about ten of them so I won’t be a bigger hog, lol. I have been looked at like I crawled out from under a rock in the age of the Flintstones when I have attended Mass in many places other than my own parish. Wearing the veil is so natural for me that I sometimes think I have ink on my face or something because people are looking at me strangely. Sigh…if they only understood.

  15. ndmom says:

    “The Virgin Mary wore a veil or head covering because she understood this symbol of the different roles given to men and women.”

    No, she wore a veil because it was the custom for Jewish women of her time and place.

    “It is symbolic of humility and obedience.”

    For you. But not necessarily for others. Remember that men, too, are called to humility and obedience. And that women can strive for humility and obedience without covering their heads in church.

  16. Jason says:

    What a disease is modernism. How arrogant for a generation to assume upon itself the task of reinventing everything it has been given, according to it’s own image.

    “And that women can strive for humility and obedience without covering their heads in church.” Do you understand how completely incoherent that statement is? What else of the tradition of your fathers do you out of hand reject in the name of humility and obedience?

    “If women must be veiled because their sexual organs make them “holy,” then, by that logic, are men “profane”?”

    There’s nowhere to begin to address the complete lost in the wilderness nature of such a statement. Possession of an organ does not make one holy. That male and female possess different organs does not make one holier than the other. A properly raised child knows such things.

    Male and female He created them. Like it or not, that is His design. The Creator of all there is chose to Incarnate Himself in the womb of a very special woman. And human male “sex organs” had absolutely nothing to do with it. He could have simply appeared. But that was not in His plan.

    Consider that as you teach your sons about the importance of women. And consider it when you explain to them why women, and only women, veil themselves in the house of God.

  17. ndmom says:

    My sons know by their lived experience that the vast majority of women, even in our very orthodox former parish, do not veil themselves in church. Like their mother, they accept the decision of some women to veil as a personal one, but they do not regard non-veiled women as less humble and obedient than their veiled sisters. (They would also not look at a veiled woman as though she had just crawled out from under a rock.)
    If the priest says the black and does the red, that’s all that matters to me. What the women in the congregation are wearing, or not wearing, on their heads is immaterial. I’m not looking at them, and trust that they are not looking at me.

  18. I think the heresy really worrying people these days is Islam, which we see every day spreading a disordered view of womanhood and of head coverings. Gosh, why would any Catholic woman be a tad touchy about avoiding any hint of hijab theology?

    Hair is a woman’s crowning glory; headgear is obviously the crown upon the crown. It’s not a mask of any kind. You don’t wear a necklace or a bracelet to hide your breast or your wrist from the gaze of sinful men; you wear it to add a final touch of polish that displays the nobility of the body while honoring it. Ice cream with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and a cherry on top is obviously more formal and noble than ice cream alone. Whether some ice cream is hidden by the other ingredients is not really the point.

    There are other functions: to keep your hair orderly, to keep your head warm and dry, to keep your head shaded and cool. But the primary function of women’s headgear was to establish when one is at home (with no hat) versus when one is out and about (and wearing a hat). Home is informal, everywhere else is formal. Church could be taken as a homey situation, especially since women often spent many hours a day there; but maintaining a headgear rule kept up the formality, even if the only other people there were Jesus and the angels. There always seems to have been an attempt to separate Christian reasons for women’s headgear from Jewish ones or Muslim ones or pagan Roman ones.

  19. I was looking at Ancrene Riwle (or Ancrene Wisse) this morning, and it looked as though the author’s primary concern was that the anchoresses, when seen through windows or beyond the wall from outside their house, should have their heads covered for the same reason both men and women wear clothes — ie, the fall in Eden. Church wasn’t really a concern beyond that.

    The hilarious thing is that, when saying they could just wear cloaks and dark veils (instead of nice bright linen wimples that covered the neck and chin, as was everyday outside wear for most women then), he says that even though ladies say that all ladies should by rights wear wimples, the Bible doesn’t say anything about wimples but just says to cover the head. Heh! So these little fashion/religion disputes are not new.

    And it’s a very nice thing to have a giveaway contest, and I’m sure the crochet work is very nice, too.

    Really need to find the Old English texts, though, because some of the translation I found didn’t look right and I couldn’t find a newer translation.

  20. nanetteclaret says:

    When I became a Catholic, I immediately began wearing either a hat or chapel veil. The reasons were, and are, several-fold:

    First of all, because Jesus is there, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. Having come from two Protestant traditions (Baptised Presbyterian, then became Episcopalian), I have been in churches where Jesus is not there physically (because of invalid Anglican orders) or the possibility is completely denied (as in the Presbyterian church). It is first and foremost an outward and visible sign telling Jesus of my inward and spiritual conversion to His Church, as well as a show of thanksgiving to Him that He brought me here. It also is a way to witness to Catholics of the truth of His presence in the Blessed Sacrament and to show reverence towards it. So many times I see Catholics who do not even genuflect, even when they know where the Tabernacle is! All I can think is that they do not believe in the Real Presence. When they ask me why I wear it, or make a comment, I am able to say, “Because of Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament.” Having been part of churches where this is not the case, I will never take it for granted.

    Secondly, St. Paul says we must “because of the angels.” This is a really awesome concept. Since we believe that the angels are present at Holy Mass, we should do everything possible to make that awareness part of our prayer reality. Who wants to offend the angels – and especially our own Guardian Angel? If we believe that Sacred Scripture is inspired by God, then we must take the words of St. Paul to heart, because God is talking to us through him.

    Thirdly, in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is true that we don’t know what she wore during her life here on earth, but we most certainly do know what she wore at her various apparitions, because the people who saw her have told us. She has always worn a veil. If we take her as our model, then we will imitate her in all her virtues, which includes being obedient. So “covering our heads” becomes an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual imitation of Our Lady.

    It is interesting that at the church which I attend, there are now four of us (that I am aware of) who wear headcoverings to Mass. Three of us are converts and one is a revert, after having been away a long time.

  21. Actually, now that I look up the Greek, what women are supposed to wear on their head is “exousia” — power, freedom, mastery, authority. It is a crown, you see. Told you. :)

    Something I hadn’t heard — apparently “because of the angels” was a Jewish story shorthand for “now we are talking about God and doing serious business, and the angels are there, so we should comport ourselves formally.” Rabbis got off their donkeys and put on their veils to talk about the Torah “because of the angels”. :)

  22. elaine says:

    The veil stopped being worn by women at Mass as an act of disobedience orchestrated by anti-catholic feminists including NOW. During the turmoil during and following Vatican 2 the media erroneously reported that women no longer had to veil at Mass, in large part due to a “national unveiling” campaign by NOW in 1969. NOW had a twofold goal: unveil all women at church, and ordain women priests.
    Indeed the first woman to enter church without her head covered was committing a deliberate act of rebellion and disobedience against the Church and Church law.
    Why did St Paul say women should be veiled if they didn’t? Why did the Church require it for 2,000 years, if it were not important? Was the Church wrong for 2,000 years? Archbishop Fulton Sheen referred to it as a “Divine Prohibition” against women appearing in church uncovered.
    When Michelle Obama met with Pope B16, she wore a veil, as did Hillary Clinton. If a pro-abortion non-Catholic feminist like Michelle Obama or Hillary can veil in the presence of the pope, certainly I can veil in the presence of My Lord and My God at Mass. Which is more important, after all?
    I veil for many of the reasons listed above, but also because I will not have pro-abortion Catholic-hating feminists changing the culture of my Church.

  23. MaryMaria says:

    Whoa!!! Who knew this was such a hot button issue???? I came just to look cuz I crochet some….thought it might be nice to try and make my own….still think I will try and do one….

  24. ndmom says:

    “I veil for many of the reasons listed above, but also because I will not have pro-abortion Catholic-hating feminists changing the culture of my Church.”

    You see, this is where the veil discussion inevitably goes. It’s not enough for a woman to choose the veil because it assists her in keeping recollected at Mass, or because it helps her express her humility and obedience to God. No, she is making a statement and declaring her superiority over her non-veiling sisters.
    “Your” Church has decided that women can choose whether or not to veil at Mass. As Jesus aptly reminded the Pharisee in today’s Gospel, it’s more important that the inside rather than the outside of the cup be clean.

  25. MJ says:

    ndmom, this has nothing to do with the inside and the outside of the cup being or not being clean. For those of us who grew up with the EF and/or who regularly attend the EF, wearing a veil has always been “the norm”. I was born & raised with the EF and I regularly attend the EF Mass at an all-EF parish (Deo Gratias!). 99% of the time, every woman who steps through the church doors is wearing a veil, a scarf, a hat, some kind of head covering — even toddlers can be seen wearing veils (and the amazing thing is that they usually keep them on and don’t tug them off — so cute!). No one is requiring it of them, they do so because they choose to.

    There are occasions when we see women at Mass who are not wearing a veil — perhaps it is a newcomer or perhaps it is a regular who has left her veil at home. I have had that happen before, when I have decided to go to Mass after work and I didn’t have my veil with me. It didn’t stop me from going to Mass, and no one gave me looks or unkind words. None of us are making a statement of superiority over our non-veiling sisters. We are just stating how we ourselves view our own wearing of the veil.

    Those of us who prefer the EF view the veil (at least I do, and hopefully I am not speaking out of turn for other EF-goers) as one of the many traditions we EF-goers hold dear. I wear the veil with joy and awe, knowing that for thousands of years other women have done the same. It’s not the only reason I wear one, but it is one of the little treasures that we have passed down through the centuries and still-preserved today.

    “My” Church is the same as “your” Church (I presume…), and as Fr. Z has already said the Church no longer requires women to wear a veil. So be it. You choose not to wear one. I, on the other hand, do. Please don’t assume to know what we women who wear veils think about women who do not wear veils, because you are quite mistaken.

  26. kittenchan says:

    It really irritates me when people get all persnickety when it comes to what exactly should be on women’s heads if they choose to cover them at Mass. The typical argument goes that really we should be wearing hats and not veils because veils were only worn by certain minority groups while hats were the most recent fashion trend before everyone threw off their oppressive headgear, and if we are going back to the olden days we ought to wear what women wore in the olden days, and not some romanticized ahistorical substitute. Or something like that.

    Well, here’s the thing: I, for one, being 22 and having no real excuse for wearing a veil except those of personal and theological origin (I am thoroughly white, definitely not old enough to remember anything circa 1960s-70s, a firm adherent to the NO Mass, the daughter of a non-head-covering mother, originally from a very liberal parish, etc etc), do not see covering my head as “going back” to anything at all. It is not a matter of regression. Yes, there is an element of reclamation, but it is all part of moving FORWARD. I don’t cover my head in the fashions of the 19-whatevers any more then I wear other clothing from the 19-whatevers.

    The fashionable headgear for attending Mass in THIS day and age, if a woman chooses to wear headgear at all, is a veil. The times, they are a-changing, and fashion has definitely moved on from hats to veils. This isn’t to say women can no longer wear hats any more than we can no longer wear vintage dresses. It’s just that *veils* are *modern*.

  27. RichardR says:

    ndmom (sorry), don’t bring up scripture or quote Jesus on this website’s discussion boards. I have been repremanded for doing so. It apparently upsets the faithful.

  28. Girgadis says:

    A lot of things would be nice, like if people turned their cell phones off before entering church, and both men and women dressed better for Mass (and no, better doesn’t have to be expensive). That said, I can’t understand why a simple announcement about a mantilla giveaway should cause such lashing out at one another. I don’t feel comfortable at the TLM if I don’t cover my head. In the colder weather I wear a beret or a hat, and in the warmer weather, I prefer a veil. The last thing I would want anyone to believe is that I’m a holier person than someone else, simply because I cover my head. I’m just as big a sinner now as I was before I wore the veil, and I know it takes much more than a hat or mantilla to rectify that. I’m working on it and will be for the rest of my life. I don’t know why women covered their heads in the first place, and I really don’t care. All I know is that we can never practice enough humility. As I am a very self-conscious person, it was difficult for me to wear a mantilla at first, so I treated it as a penance. Now, I hardly think about it, at least at the TLM. I’m still working on building my nerve to wear one to the Novus Ordo, though in winter, I do wear a hat.

    BTW, I came up with a little cottage industry project for my mother, who is a talented seamstress. I found some old pieces of lace, including an old wedding dress, that she turned into elegant but simple mantillas. I don’t plan to sell them but instead will bring them to an upcoming TLM and leave them in the back of the church for anyone who wants one. My hope is that they will encourage women who are reluctant to veil will give it a try, especially if they’re free!

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