WDTPRS POLL: Should women wear head-coverings in church?

mantilla veilI ask fellow bloggers, liberal or conservative, traditional or progressivist, to help get the word out about this poll so we can have as large a sampling as possible.

You don’t have to be registered to be able to vote.

In another entry I presented the case of a woman asked by the priest not to wear a chapel veil when coming up to read at Mass.

The mantilla/chapel veil topic always generates lively discussion.

In the Latin Church it was once obligatory under Canon Law for women to ear a head covering in Church (veil or hat).  At present it is not obligatory, but there seems to be a slow resurgence of this tradition.   My opinion is that it should be revived.

Here is a WDTPRS POLL.  You don’t have to be registered to vote. I ask fellow bloggers to help get the word out about this poll so we can have as large a sampling as possible.

Please give your best answer and then an explanation of your choice in the combox.

We are talking about veils, scarves, hats, etc.  Perhaps not lamp-shades or football helmets.

I ask that you do NOT engage each other in the combox.

Do NOT respond to each other or answer or object or even agree with others who post.  Let everyone speak his or her mind without worrying that someone else is going to jump all over the comment. I will delete such comments when I see them.

Should women in the Latin Church wear some kind of head-cover in church?

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  1. priests wife says:

    I voted that YES, it is a fine tradition to be revived, but I don’t believe that it should be obligatory. Personally, I prefer something small- the full length mantilla seems a bit much- but that’s just me.

  2. Given that the head covering, while no longer mandatory (which is a matter of some conjecture among canonists), remains a venerable custom, the parish priest is out of line to expect a woman not to wear a head covering, even when performing a liturgical function. “Custom is the best interpreter of law.” This, as opposed to the pastor’s whim.

  3. Shellynna says:

    Where is the option for “I am a female and think that as long as the Church doesn’t require or forbid headcoverings for women, people should mind their own business about whether or not women wear headcoverings”? As for my own personal practice, I’ll wear one if it’s expected (such as if I’m attending a Tridentine Mass), but otherwise I’d rather not.

  4. Joanne says:

    My vote is YES (for the past 3 or so years) and should be voluntary. Voluntary for lots of reasons, one of which is that a behavior makes a greater impact when everyone knows it’s voluntary. Also, when something is voluntary/optional, it makes one, I believe, give greater thought to the behavior than if it’s mandatory. Thanks for this poll.

  5. marthawrites says:

    I voted “I am a woman and Yes but it should be voluntary.” Any act of reverence reminds me as well as those around me that I am in church to adore the Lord in whose presence I have come. Hats give me headaches, but I wear a veil daily to the TLM Mass. I tell myself that it is a sign of how seriously I need to take the liturgy. For me putting on a veil is a reminder that I should focus because I am easily distracted. Once I make that pledge before Mass begins I forget I have it on. I am happy to accept the tradition of wearing a head covering while attending a traditional Mass. I don’t, however, wear the veil for the hour of adoration and Benediction preceding the TLM.

  6. jasimon says:

    I am a male, and I voted YES, but that it should be voluntary

    I really like the information presented here by “The Catholic Knight”: http://goo.gl/eMwJW

    “Coercion actually defeats the whole purpose of veiling. (Which may be one reason why the custom of the veil has no place in canon law.) It has to be voluntary, if it is truly to be a sign of holiness and humility.”

    I make it a point to go up to a woman who chooses to wear a head covering and tell her how beautiful I find her humility and reverence for the Lord. I think that’s the best way to go about these things.

  7. ies0716 says:

    I voted that I don’t have a strong opinion one way or another. I think that it is good that the tradition is returning but I don’t think that it’s the end of the world if women pray in church with their heads uncovered. Ultimately it is up to each woman whether she chooses to engage in this traditional act of piety; if not there are many other ways to be reverent and respectful in a church regardless of what is on one’s head.

  8. Katharine B. says:

    To toss out a tradition after 1900+ years of following is insane to me. At one time I thought it should be voluntary, but given the attitude of some women who are just so dead set against ever submitting to covering their head and those who attend the TLM regularly who do not cover because “It’s not the law, I’ll do what I want,” even though it’s the custom there, I’ve come to the conclusion it ought to be mandatory. But that’s my opinion, I respect those who disagree.

  9. kab63 says:

    Head covering tends to work best with more formal attire. Certainly the older ladies who have kept alive the mantilla tradition are usually the better dressed ones. If head covering is mandatory, is a particular attire mandatory, too? One parish I attend states in the bulletin that women’s shoulders and knees are to be covered. Do you know how many very respectable dresses are prohibited by this? (Particularly the shoulder rule.) The majority of women wear jeans and T-shirts instead, which perfectly follows the rule. Which sartorial choice is preferable? I’ve attended another parish where the priest encouraged formal attire, and made a habit of thanking parishioners for dressing up, but laid down no rules. You can guess which parish has more chapel veils. Sometimes the laundry is overflowing and the kids didn’t wake up early enough, and just getting in the pew before Father starts down the aisle is an accomplishment. I suppose I could bobby pin a Kleenex to my head, like the women used to do in a pinch, under an obligatory system but I think education, encouragement and example are a more productive system.

  10. Kat says:

    I voted that I think women should wear head coverings, but it should by no means be obligatory. It’s not really a matter of “modesty” to me. (I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my hair as anything glorious that needs to be covered.) I simply like hats.

  11. Christina says:

    I said yes, but that it shouldn’t be obligatory. I think I’m a bit split on whether it should be obligatory, actually. For me, it’s a bit like men taking off their hats in a church or while praying. I have no idea whether men are obliged to take off their hats, but it’s certainly the norm as a sign of reverence. If a man were to keep his head covered, it might look unusual, but it wouldn’t really be a big deal; perhaps someone would let him know about the custom, though.

    I think, ideally, it should be the same for women and head-coverings (just the opposite, of course), but that’s a way’s away. I’m fine being a minority in a congregation just now and I don’t mind that other women don’t cover their heads. At this point in time, it’s mostly a difference in piety.

  12. Maria says:

    The reason I voted it should be brought back by law is because here whre I live, nobody wears them and if one chose to wear one, which I would like to do myself as well, we would not feel inhibited and conscious of wearing it because of what others think. We would be wearing it because its what pleases God.

    By being mandatory, it would help weaklings like me to be able to wear one with dignity and without feeling others might think we are trying to be pious.

  13. KathyJ says:

    I voted yes, and it should be obligatory. I’m tired of the lack of reverence during Mass, or any other time one would find oneself in the Sanctuary or Chapel (Adoration, Confession are two examples). I see women/girls coming to Mass in low cut blouses, spaghetti-strapped shirts, skirts barely covering their backside, etc. It’s shameful. And it’s not just young girls. The mothers are doing it as well. When the veils/mantillas went out, it seems that people just figured it was an “anything goes” attitude towards how one should dress for Mass. I know of some parishes that post dress guidelines outside the doors of the Sanctuary and Chapel. If you don’t fit the guidelines, they have sweaters/jackets one can put on in order to be properly dressed for Mass. They even have skirts/pants for those with too short a skirt on, etc. It’s not about keeping people out of Mass, but making people respect the fact that reverence is also reflected in how one is dressed, not just by how they are acting. You can just about count on those who are not dressed appropriately to not be acting appropriately either, during Mass. It seems to go hand-in-hand. Sorry for being so long-winded. It’s just a major pet peeve of mine. BTW, I was in elementary school when the Church went through Vatican II, so I’ve been on both sides of it.

  14. tzard says:

    As we are called to be beacons on a hill, this is one aspect where women in the Church can do so.

    However, in our society, personal choice is touted above practicality or even reason. But we are a people, not merely individuals. As such, we should make use of the tools available to us. One such tool is LAW. Once it becomes law, it becomes the custom and women won’t feel self-conscious doing this. Sure, having a heroic virtue of doing it when nobody else does is laudable, but average Jills need help. Having a law would help.

    Culture needs to be nurtured. Catholic culture needs help to get started and retained.

    There are other issues which apply to men, but are diffeent than the head covering issue for women. We can use law for those as well.

    And law is never good if one designes it for the exceptions. Exceptions will always be available in charity. And by making laws we are not damning people. We are helping them. Like the lines in the parking lot showing you where to park.

  15. bravelass says:

    I don’t think it makes much sense to command the wearing of chapel veils/headcoverings until something is done about modest dress in general. It would be rather like asking a prostitute to wear a headscarf, given the dress in some churches.

    I dearly wish the custom would be revived from the ground up, by women because we desire it, recognizing the good reasons for the practice.

  16. Jenny says:

    I would like it if the custom returned, but I have personally never done it. I don’t think it should be mandatory because I am anti-Kleenex. The Kleenex is an absurdity. There are several ladies at my parish that cover and it is nice. I do wonder how one would keep the baby from repeatedly pulling it off the head.

  17. Sliwka says:

    I voted Male/YES/Optional.

    Caveat: I do think it should strongly be encouraged, albeit not enforced. As of now, it is an option, and not encouraged in any way at the local level (except in those EF parishes)

  18. CM Collins says:

    Sure, why not? Wouldn’t it help get people ‘in the zone,’ or ‘psyched up,’ for both men and women? Wouldn’t it cut down on distractions? Lessen the old looking around thing –for, again, both men and women? Wouldn’t it provide a sort of decent rite of passage in a society that has few, if any, nowadays?

  19. David Homoney says:

    I would love to see this brought back, it is a sign of reverence and if there is one thing I see at most Masses is a lack of reverence. Do we ever see the Holy Mother depicted without cover?

  20. Philangelus says:

    Can I wear my baseball cap in church? :-)

    I voted that I don’t care one way or the other. If the Church tells me to cover my hair, I will proceed to do so.

  21. Katherine says:

    My husband and I were discussing this topic yesterday. He thinks veil wearing is preferable, but he also made the point that as long as the Church does not require it, headcoverings are no longer a statement of Catholic cult, but of private devotion. When the Church requires female headcovering and explains the symbolism , then it seems a worthwile, fitting practice. Now, as a matter of choice or personal piety, it seems pointless to discuss or take sides over. It’s funny that traditional Catholics aren’t nearly as concerned about practicing old fasting regulations as they are about headcoverings.

  22. nmoerbeek says:

    It is explicitly mentioned in scripture, it should be a law that is strictly enforced. That is the basis of my opinion.

  23. bernadette says:

    Part of me would like to see the Church bring back the requirement for women to cover their heads, but the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth would hit the media and we would never hear the end of it. I wear a hat or mantilla, but honestly, unless the Church makes it mandatory, it should be no one’s business whether a woman covers or not.

  24. MaryW says:

    I wear head coverings but believe it should be voluntary. When I attend a TLM I wear a mantilla but for OF I wear hats/berets. The parish I belong to has a good-sized Filipino population and some of the ladies wear hats so that I’m very comfortable wearing them. At most of the OF Masses I attend, I wear a favorite black, crocheted beret. Because it is so simple I don’t feel self-conscious wearing it to a Mass outside my parish in a VII-leaning church.

  25. mstrange382 says:

    The best advice I was ever given as a server at Mass was to not make people notice you. Something can be said for applying this to us laity. Wearing a headcovering is a grand tradition as long it is not used by a person to draw attention to themselves. It is a sign of humility and thus should be encouraged as oppose to enforced. That being said I would not lose sleep or protest if it was required to wear.

  26. templariidvm says:

    male/no strong opinion. Perhaps I do not understand the purpose well enough. Shouldn’t both male and female be humble before the Lord? Part of what I see is shades of headscarves – something which I find the top of the Islamic slippery slope to burqaville

  27. Male. Yes on a voluntary basis. (And women shouldn’t be intimidated into or out of it.)

  28. introibo says:

    I voted it should be done, but not obligatory.
    What’s kind of creepy is the idea among many trads that it has to be a chapel veil..vis a vis what the above poster said about wearing a veil to the EF and regular hats to the OF. Why? I’ve even seen women and children come to Mass wearing knitted winter hats and changing to chapel veils when they come into church. Kind of odd. I personally don’t like chapel veils and will opt for a hat whernever possible.

  29. jmoran says:

    Female, yes, obligatory. I remember as a child when I was told that we didn’t have to wear hats anymore, I was glad because I didn’t like wearing hats (really mature, I know). When I reverted to the Catholic faith about 16+ years ago, I started out not wearing a head cover. But then I read in St. Paul’s epistle that women should cover their heads in church, so I started wearing a veil. I have seen a picture of Laura Bush in the presence of the Pope with her head covered; I have seen a picture of Michelle Obama in the presence of the Pope with her head covered. Does Our Lord deserve less?

  30. Arieh says:


    Because of 1 Cor 11, 1900+ years of uninterrupted tradition, mandatory under canon law until it wasn’t mentioned in the 1983 code, and it promotes modesty and decorum in church (and it just seems to give one a sense that there is something different going on at mass).

  31. Paulo says:

    In my parish, there are quite a number of people from the Philippines, or belonging to a Filipino family; the older ladies from these families do tend to wear a veil during mass. I am of the opinion that the use should be completely optional and not a matter of law. If anything should be enforced, is the proper dress code for attending mass, which is not a place for skimpy or undignified clothing.

  32. TeresaBenedicta says:

    I voted Female/Don’t have a strong opinion either way.

    Although, I’m not entirely sure that this perfectly conveys my thoughts on the matter.

    Personally, I think it is a praiseworthy action. And I would like to veil, but I am one of those who doesn’t feel comfortable, in my circumstances, veiling. (Working in a more liberal parish and it’s taken a while to overcome any stigma of “conservativism” so as to actually work with people on a deeper level.) If it were made mandatory by law, I wouldn’t have to worry about any of that. But at the same time, I’m not sure it really should be made mandatory by law.

  33. TheCatholicWolf says:

    Women complain about covering their heads in the church because it “messes up my hair.” Case closed right there, Mass is about worship of God, not attracting attention. Besides, a woman’s glory is her hair, and should be viewed in all it’s glory by her husband, not every man she comes across.

  34. rfox2 says:

    I voted that women should wear the mantilla, and it should be obligatory. There are two primary reasons why I voted this way. The primary reason is that I tend to side with the ancients on matters of traditional practice. There was wisdom in the practice, whether we fully understand it or not. The second reason is that the mantilla is a spiritual sign, like the veil that female religious wear as a part of their habits. There is profound beauty in that silent act of deference to God in His temple. “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.” 1 Corinthians 11:14-15 I would that women desired this voluntarily, but if it was mandatory, like other things the Church legislates, it could only be a good thing.

  35. One of those TNCs says:

    Female. Voted “no strong opinion one way or the other.”
    Without universal and careful catechesis on the subject, I believe it would cause more harm than good. WITH universal and careful catechesis, and over time, I think the faithful will come to realize the beauty and value of females covering the head during Mass and other appropriate times (i.e. meeting the Pope) and they would gladly, voluntarily embrace the habit. I am working on it, myself, but I haven’t gotten there yet…

  36. JulieC says:

    I would be very wary of a wholesale return to this practice. I’ve actually been there, done that, and did not find the practice conducive to healthy men/women relationships. Somehow, when a laywoman assumes a veil, she also instantly assumes a second-class status and becomes virtually invisible.

    There is, in my experience, already a problem in many traditional Catholic communities with women being regarded as intellectually inferior and not capable of holding a conversation or offering their opinions on any number of subjects.

    As many readers are probably aware, the SSPX for many years disseminated the notion that women should not wear pants; women should not play sports, and women should not pursue a higher education, and the veil is, like it or not, indelibly associated with this kind of traditionalIST Catholic culture.

    If that was attitude was not widely prevalent in the traditional Catholic milieu, wearing a headcovering wouldn’t be a problem, but until that attitude is corrected, I would be very cautious about introducing it.

  37. kat says:

    I voted yes and it should be obligatory. It came from St. Paul originally that women should cover their heads in church because a woman’s hair is her glory; it also shows the submission St. Paul taught that a woman should have in holy humility.

  38. Gregg the Obscure says:


    Making this mandatory seems to present an additional opportunity for noisy and counterproductive dissent.

  39. asophist says:

    I’m male, voted “yes”, “voluntary.” I’m wavering, though, between “voluntary” and “mandatory”. If head-covering for women were mandatory, there would be no angst about it, and no accusations of pietism. That’s that good part. The drawback would come with the process of making it mandatory; not only would the media have a field-day with the subject, but many women would be put out at having to make the transition (it being no longer habitual) and many difficulties would ensue for them. No sense stirring the pot unnecessarily. I like to see women in head coverings because that’s what I grew up with.

  40. Bornacatholic says:

    In its Hierarchical Magisterium, The Divinely-Constitued Catholic Church took the decision to let this Canon Law elide into evanescence.

    And now the Hierarchical Magisterium must make it mandatory in Canon Law and retrace its steps on the path to seeking an accommodation with modernity and the World which is one of its three ancient and sempiternal enemies; The Hierarchy must repent of its errors (this just being one of them) and lead the way back to Tradition in all of its Glory.

    It is only fair and just that The Magisterium which made the error must admit it was an error and then do what it can to repair the results of that error.

  41. MissOH says:

    I voted that it should be voluntary as I don’t think that to make it obligatory is the best way to revive this wonderful practice.
    I wear a veil any time I am in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament (mass, adoration or choir rehersal for our chant schola). I also have veil’s with ties for our little one and found that she really likes when her veil is the same as mommy’s (so we have pink, blue and white). I do veil at the OF mass that is the mass I attend when I can go to daily mass. Even at the EF mass we attend Sunday’s not all of the women veil.
    I do see the issue of veiling as being more linked to the issue of scripture and the fact that it is still the basis of our faith and beliefs. Veiling is scriptural but just as many dismiss it as not being applicable, there are those who also dismiss other teachings we get from scripture as not being relevant now or reflecting prior biases etc.
    I would like to see the practice explained and encouraged along with appropriate dress in mass/reverence thought I know it might rank far down the scale of “things Father needs to address in the parish”.

  42. I’m female, and I voted YES, but voluntary. I think, though, that priests and catechists ought to strongly encourage women to cover in Church.
    I used to only wear a veil when assisting at the EF Mass, wherever that might have been. Then one day I realized that it’s the same Eternal Lord being worshiped, whether the Mass is EF, OF or Divine Liturgy. Since then, probably about 4 years ago, I have worn a headcovering whenever I am in Church. Sometimes it is a sort of a scarf-like thing that snaps at the nape of my neck (similar to a Bruderhof or Mennonite covering, only in black mesh trimmed in black lace), other times it is something else.
    I suspect that if I were truly able to comprehend the Majesty of Our Lord, I would be cowering under the very last pew. Covering is a little enough thing to do to honor Him, considering what He did for me.
    Off to link this post on my blog, so my paltry readership can come and vote.

  43. bangertm says:

    I’m male and voted “no”. My answer is driven by the fact that head coverings for both men and women are not as culturally important as they have been in times past. Today most people wear head coverings as fashion statements or to support a sports team and that is about it.

    It appears to me that the same sense of piety would require a man to remove his hat when entering a church is what would require a woman to don a head covering in the circumstance. So reviving a tradition of women covering their heads when inside a church would impose the obligation of always remembering to carry a veil with them. While for me all I have to do is remember to take my hat off on the rare occasion when I am actually wearing a hat when going to church.

  44. lucy says:

    I voted for obligatory. It seems that we’ve gone so far the other way, that this would help us get back to a more pious Mass. I’ve had friends tell me that they won’t wear a veil until the Holy Father himself tells them to do it. If it were the rule, they wouldn’t have a problem complying.

    Personally, I find that prayer is much easier to maintain when my eyes are veiled from seeing all around me. It helps me focus.

    I’ve gone from wearing tee shirts, shorts, and sneakers back in the day of my early conversion (aka RCIA conversion and learned basically nothing except how I felt) to a move to the traditional side of the Church. Now I wear a dress or skirt every time I plan to enter a church. I feel naked without a veil now, and when I forget (such as being in a different car) to bring my veil, I’m very uncomfortable. It has been quite the journey from the shorts days to the dress up days. I’m very thankful that the traditional form of Mass was accessible to my family.

    I think that we need to remember Who it is that we’re going to see. I’ve known ladies who were chosen to meet with the Holy Father and asked to wear a veil, a shirt with sleeves, and the skirt or dress past their knees. I think that if that’s how we’re to meet the Vicar of Christ on earth, then the least we can do is meet Christ Himself in the Holy Eucharist in our finest clothing and veils.

    This is just my own personal opinion and I don’t want to force others to have the same one as I have.

  45. Marc says:

    I find that I am less distracted in Mass by our lovely Catholic sisters when their heads are covered.

  46. Nora says:

    I am a “yes, but voluntary” vote. I have worshiped veiled for years, ever since there were enough other like minded women in our parish for us to do it without projecting a “holier than thou” image. I keep two veils in my car, so they are available if I get a chance to make an unplanned visit in the course of the day. That said, from time to time, I do find myself near a church with a few moments and without a veil. I would hate to have to miss the pleasure of a moment of prayer before the tabernacle because I had neither veil nor kleenex.

  47. Phil_NL says:

    Voted “I am male and NO. This custom should not return. ” As an explanation, I’ll copy the stuff I wrote in the other thread. I admit it’s somewhat specific for Europe, as in the US this will rarely be a factor outside Dearborn. But once we talk law, it’s about the entire church, so it does have bearing on it.

    I suppose I’ll draw some flak with this, but I’ll say it anyway: chapel veils, mantilla’s and so on is one part of traditional practice I would not mind seeing the last of; and I while I cannot guess at what reasons this pastor had, I can see at least one making this quite akward.

    The thing is – and this is pretty much a European issue, given our demographics – that for the uneducated many mantilla’s will raise the question if catholics are suddenly promoting the muslim headscarf, or at least similar ideology. Covering can be seen as a humble act, directed at God. But also as directed at men, in a very onerous way: if covering is limited to women, as is traditional, you quickly start wondering whether the reason is not that the male population would be too distracted from all the female beauty on display and unable to control its urges (which is, in a nutshell, the islamic motivation, which is promoted by a considerable part of the muslim population here, which in turn is closing in on 10% of the total population, so to be reckoned with).

    While I normally don’t give a …. about the feminist BS flying around, massive reintroduction of the chapel veil would be very hard to explain here indeed. I imagine that it does more harm than good, not in isolation (tradition is fine), but by the unavoidable association with islam and its ugly features that female coverage has nowadays in much of Europe.

    Once islam is defeated, fine enough, but before that it will detract from a battle that is more profound and important than an optional sign of piety.

  48. Kate Asjes says:

    This might seem like a strange sort of reasoning, but I voted that yes, head covering should be obligatory for women:

    We are all familiar with entering a church and finding that Jesus in the Holy Eucharist has been moved to a location more appropriate for janitorial supplies, or is in some back corner so that a good portion of the congregation sits with its back to Him during Mass. This used to bother me, then I realized that the location of the Tabernacle might just be God’s code-talk for the level of reception to the Holy Spirit in a particular parish. I’m not saying that all the people who go to a parish with the Tabernacle in a poor location have lost their Faith, just that it is a sign of the state of the parish’s Faith.

    If wearing a head overing were made obligatory, we would quickly know which parishes and priests are interested in the mighty humbling of obedience–which parishes embrace their Faith. Then, if you have the apostolate to instruct the ignorant while bearing wrongs patiently, you could go to that church. And if you have young children to whom you wish to pass on the Faith, you could go to the head -covering church…

  49. Frank H says:

    While we are at it, how about a move toward more modest wedding dresses?

  50. Paula says:


    The practice is specifically scriptural. That being said, I myself felt very self-conscious the few times I’ve tried it.

  51. JARay says:

    I think that a mantilla is very attractive if it is worn, as I used to see it worn in Portugal, and that is with the pointed end worn above the forehead which causes the sides to ripple around the face framing it in a most attractive manner. If the pointed end is placed at the back of the head then that rippling effect is lost and so is its charm.

  52. Girgadis says:

    I am female and I voted yes, but it should be voluntary. I always cover my head at the TLM with either a hat or a veil, but have only started to do so at the Novus Ordo in the past few months. I don’t know if I have the courage to wear a mantilla to the NO but the fact that I wear something is a start.

  53. Kate says:

    Is it possible that a return to head coverings would remind us to be more modest in dress overall? I think it just might.

    I voted for a return of obligatory use. A return of this law would make wearing the veil easier for me. I don’t like the “holier than thou” perception that comes with wearing it to a NO Mass, but if we were supposed to wear it, I wouldn’t have to deal with that attitude from others. I know, I know, humility…..

    At an EF Mass, I wear a veil. However, I rarely attend EF Masses due to lack of local, regular availability at a sane hour.

  54. catholicuspater says:

    I think women wearing veils in church is a nice custom that I quite frankly don’t have a lot of strong feelings about. The biggest reason for this is that I’m a man and I have deep misgivings about telling women what they should and should not be doing in church.

    The women I know are good, generous, and devout souls who know how to behave in church. These women have been educating their children at home for years in our liberal diocese, going against the grain to preserve our traditions in a time and era when many if not most of the male clerical leadership were pursuing their strange notions of “renewal” which of course meant little or no sympathy for Catholic homeschooling mothers.

    These men were also looking the other way when these good moms were providing generous and large families to the Church in an era where 97% or more of Catholic couples are contracepting. Some of these ladies darn near died from some of these pregnancies and miscarriages while our male clerical leadership were nowhere to be found or heard from with regards to any meaningful Catholic counter-cultural proclamation/resistance.

    So, if these good women want to wear veils, I say God bless them. If they don’t want to wear veils, because they are rightly suspicious that some men will treat them as second-class citizens, may God bless them just the same. The decision is entirely theirs and with the pathetic record of male leadership that we’ve seen in our local church the decision should remain theirs.

    One last thing. I have been praying for years for a traditional parish in our “progressive” northeastern diocese, but I also pray that we will be given clergy who, like Karol Wojtyla, will teach us the meaning of phrases like “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church, ” while also, like this great Pope, being fully committed to treating women as sisters and friends and eliciting their thoughts and ideas in equal proportion to men.

    No view of the world and the Church is complete without taking into account that which John Paul II referred to as “the feminine genius.” To put it another way, unless we allow women to occupy a place that truly is equal in dignity to men (while respecting the complementarity of the sexes of course) we men are not going to see everything that God expects us to see.

  55. cblanch says:


    I’m 42 and have no memory of all women covering in church, but it’s biblical and that’s good enough for me. I don’t think it should be optional. Option has done wonders for penance on Fridays…not. And that’s just the first/easiest example I can think of at the moment.

  56. Pelicanus says:

    I am male and vote that it should be optional.

    I am disturbed that so many men think this should be compulsory. I am not one to usually sympathise with the feminist cause but cannot, however, understand why so many men would force this on women, particularly as it was never maintained by force of law in the past. It is hardly pragmatic to do so.

  57. Supertradmum says:

    No offense to my lay brothers in Christ, but I do not think they have a right to a serious opinion about this. It would be as if we had a poll as to whether men should wear suits and ties to Church. I find some of the comments offensive. St. Paul was a Jewish missionary in a pagan culture and he came from a strict Jewish background. St. Paul also said women wear to keep quiet in Church. Does this mean no singers or no readers? I think not. The Western Catholic culture freed women from most of the strictures of the Middle Eastern culture. We are not from the Middle East, nor do many Jewish women wear veils today. I am proud to be a Roman Catholic from the West. I wear hats to the EF and sometimes a veil, but when I am involved in OF, I chose to go with the prevailing cultural norm.

    Men have no right to claim this should be compulsory. If I were meeting the Pope, I would dress in black, long sleeves, and a mantilla. But, what is appropriate in one situation may not be in another.

    In addition, to say it is a “sign” or “symbol” in our culture is false. The veil that the nun or sister takes is a sign of her particular vocation, and not a sign for a lay woman.

    As to comparing us with the Blessed Virgin, do men want to dress like St. Joseph in iconography? Dear Mother Mary wore what was appropriate for her day, as did St. Joseph and Jesus Himself. I, for one, am grateful for the progress in Western culture which has led to sensible, modest, and contemporary dress. The Catholic Church is not a Cult.

  58. revueltos67 says:

    Yes. Voluntary. It’s a beautiful custom that seems to me to be all about the dignity of women.

    Not everyone sees it that way. When I first started attending the TLM I asked my wife and daughters if they would like to come along. They were very interested until I told them they’d need to wear a dress and a chapel veil. They then refused to go.

  59. Mom2301 says:

    I voted for the return of headcoverings and I believe it should be voluntary action. However, there would need to be a some real encouragement for most women to don a mantilla at the next mass. I have never worn a headcovering at mass but I would like to. I’m just not brave enough as I would stick out like a sore thumb in our parish where “Gather us In” is the musical fare, and flashy stoles are all the rage. Hmmm…I’ll have to seriously consider this.

  60. AnnaTrad51 says:

    I voted Yes but voluntarily.
    I have worn a chapel veil for a long time now and would not dream of entering a Church with out one. When I first started, this was before we had a TLM, I would get the usual flack but brick by brick the Ladies started to wear a head covering of some sort. Even when I travel to Europe I cover my head with a chapel veil when I enter those beautiful Churches. I get a lot of stares but I get a lot of approving smiles.
    I think if the Priest would explain the spiritual reasons for a woman or girl to cover her head
    that many would welcome the chance.

  61. ndmom says:

    Female and NO.
    It is interesting that far more men than women have voted YES (and voted for obligatory rather than optional). In my view, the whole “covering” issue places far too much emphasis on the woman’s appearance — whether she seems to be modest and humble, and (even worse) whether she is the source of distraction for her brothers — rather than the state of her interior life. A vain woman overly concerned about her appearance can indulge in such vanity just as easily with a headcovering as without one. Even more so, since she will have far more styles, colors, etc. to choose from every time than choices in how best to arrange her hair.
    I am as orthodox as they come, but simply cannot see a piece of cloth on a woman’s head as representing a great step forward in increasing reverence and respect for the Blessed Sacrament. And it’s troubling to consider that more than a few men in the pews are making judgments about their sisters based on such a superficial issue.
    That said, if you want to wear a veil or mantilla or full-body covering — go for it. I’ll agree not to roll my eyes if you agree not to shake your head in dismay at my uncovered head.

  62. Ceile De says:

    One benefit of women wearing mantillas at an OF is to send a very clear and unambiguous signal to the Gathered Together brigade that their days of dominance are numbered. Mane Thecel Phares, as I believe the Scripture puts it. Anything that let’s a heterodox priest or lay parish administrator or whatever know their number is up or almost up can’t be all bad.
    Now I know Church law no longer requires women to cover their heads, but I do have a question as this does involve men too. Just as previously women could not leave their heads covered, men could not cover their heads. If women may hear Mass uncovered, under current rules, may men hear Mass covered?

  63. Dorcas says:

    I don’t have a strong opinion either way. As far as I can tell, it seems to me that this custom was based on one, off-hand-seeming comment by St. Paul (“because of the angels”??? What?), that was basically affirming that worship, although it may have been held in a private home, was part of the ‘public’ sphere, and therefore women should wear what was typical for appearing in public, that is, by covering their hair. Headcovering in church barely had any time to be expressed as a pious custom, because up until very recently all women wore some kind of headcovering in public as a matter of course. There is currently no expectation for women to wear hats or other headgear when in public, so this custom is now an expression of devotion. I think it’s mention in the 1917 code was more a response to changing fashions of society that saw more women uncovered generally, although it may have been not have been expressed this way; the church could not control everything, and they are not supposed to be fashion critics, but they could try to control how women appeared in church. It has more value as a devotion than a requirement, and too many people get entirely hung up on how ‘beautiful’ it is, just like were any other adornment (witness the frilly/lacey, transparent veils that are most common; one of the early fathers complained that such coverings were more about adornment than anything else. Try a ski hat, instead!)

  64. Maxiemom says:

    I voted no. I didn’t like wearing a head covering when I was growing up and I don’t want to return to it. Too many bad memories of being forced to wear a tissue bobby-pinned to my head when I forgot my school hat or other head covering . Or worse, wearing a knit hat if I forgot and sweating.

    Of course, if others want to wear a head covering, good for them. It’s just not for me and I wouldn’t want it to be mandatory again.

  65. This is a difficult choice to make. I would prefer it to be voluntary because forced acts of faith don’t have much meaning. On the other hand, if it remains voluntary, the chances of it ever coming back are slim. Scripture is clear St. Paul favored it. So I went with mandatory. It wouldn’t hurt us to learn to be faithful in some little things so when big things come along we’re ready.

  66. Geremia says:

    Is not it already obligatory according to the law (1 Cor. 11)?

  67. Mitchell NY says:

    I think it is beautiful and a good outward symbol of Catholics at Mass. I only voted obligatory because as we have seen with meat on Fridays once made optional it falls flat. If you must veil, most likely the reasons and customs will be completely explained to you. If not I would venture a guess that most people do not even kknow about it or why it was done. Obligatory used as a form of education. I would not mind in the least if every man were to wear a tie or a crucifix on his lapel as a matter of obligation. I think it shows unity and identifies us to each other.

  68. kallman says:

    It is a visible sign of modesty, and humility in imitation of Our Lady

  69. Marcin says:

    Voted male/no strong opinion.

    I treat this issue rather from aesthetic point of view, ust like the rest of churchgoer’s attire. To express my opinion in more detail I have to stress the I don’t particularly favor short mantillas and vehemently dislike anything kleenex-size on the lady’s head. Longer veil (vide supra), even in Russian babushka’s version, is just fine if worn for the church with an attire matching in dignity.

    Covering of shoulders and knees is another matter, that of modesty, and I would enforce it.

  70. motheroften says:

    I purposely didn’t read any of the other comments. I am a female and voted No. In fact I am really turned off by the whole topic. I like the traditional mass but feel like this is one of the things that turns people who attend the N.O. from attending (at times.) Its the idea of having to wear a veil ( never grew up with it so am not familiar with the custom.) that I find silly. I don’t like the idea of being pressured into wearing one simply because others are. Maybe that isn’t a good enough reason Fr Z but I am just trying to answer you as honestly as I can. God bless you.

  71. Evangeliman says:

    Stats at 7:25 EST divided by sex: (percentage not always 100% with rounding to nearest 0.1%)

    Total: 1218
    Total Men: 802 (65.8%)
    Total Women: 416 (34.2%)

    Men: [total combined YES is 655 or 81.7%]
    YES. But it should be entirely voluntary, not a matter of law: 346 (43.1% of men)
    YES. And I think it should once again be obligatory according to law: 309 (38.5% of men)
    NO. This custom should not return: 105 (13.1% of men)
    I don’t have a strong opinion one way or another: 42 (0.5% of men)

    Women: [total combined YES is 303 or 72.8%]
    YES. But it should be entirely voluntary, not a matter of law: 180 (43.3% of women)
    YES. And I think it should once again be obligatory according to law: 123 (29.6% of women)
    NO. This custom should not return: 58 (14% of women)
    I don’t have a strong opinion one way or another: 52 (12.5%)

  72. brassplayer says:

    I voted Male/No as this was the closest choice for me. However, while I don’t like the idea of head-covering and I would prefer it not to happen, I would be fine with whatever a woman decided for herself.

  73. suzannaleigh says:

    I voted “I’m female and YES it should be brought back and made mandatory.” Though I respect the feelings and opinions of others who disagree but it’s my opinion that if we brought back mandatory headcovering (be it veil or hat), it will curb two things: a lack of modesty and false feminism.

    Wearing a headcovering will encourage women to wear appropriate clothing to Mass and give the pastor more room to insist on it (though he should anyway, in my opinion). I know men who heave sighs of relief when winter rolls around because then they don’t have to glue their eyes to the floor to keep from seeing all the skin. It’s ridiculous. Enforcing the headcovering will help, though it isn’t a cure-all by any means.

    Secondly, the headcovering will help give women a solid place in the Church. Right now, things are confusing, what with women allowed to be EMHC’s and altar serve, that there’s a rise in belief that women should be allowed to be deacons and priests. By wearing the cover, women, though not exactly “put in our place,” are given our status back. I know I’m not expressing myself well but that’s how I feel.

  74. cmm says:

    Yes, but only for women with long hair. For a woman with hair that is short like a man’s hair, there is no reason to wear a veil or head-cover.

  75. KarenLH says:

    Voted Female/No. I understand that some women find the custom spiritually helpful, and that’s fine. If it were to be mandated again, I would wear one. But I really don’t understand what the veil is supposed to signify in today’s culture.

  76. I voted ‘female – no strong opinion’. I think it is a beautiful custom, and would happily see it restored. But I can appreciate why, for pastoral reasons, one might not want to make it obligatory just now. I leave the whole problem in more capable hands than my own.

  77. LorrieRob says:

    I voted “I am female and No-I do not believe this custom should return.” If a woman wishes to observe the custom that should, of course, be fine as an individual practice of personal piety. Or perhaps, just because she likes wearing a veil or other head covering such as a hat! However, as a norm,this is a practice that clearly arose out of a cultural custom for women of long ago that no longer has a positive meaning in a cultural sense. Although,I wouldn’t say it is the same, it would seem today almost analagous to the Muslim burka(sp?)If it is in anyway to be seen as a sign of a woman’s subordination-which today it would be-it would serve to undermine the important principle of God’s ordering of the complementary roles of men and women in truly meaningful contexts such as in the marital relationship, family and as clergy. To achieve the underlying purpose today of a more reverent observance, it would be more meaningful to require modest and appropriate-ie, not overly casual dress of both sexes.

  78. I voted for the non-obligatory option. I like the practice…believe that it should be strongly encouraged. But being forced to defeats the purpose of veiling

  79. michelelyl says:

    Female and no. I’d rather see all people who attend Mass dress and act more respectfully.
    God only knows if I have true humility in my heart and soul…I do not need to proclaim it with an outward article of clothing.

  80. momoften says:

    I started wearing a veil when I began to attend the EF Mass 3 years ago. I was very uncomfortable with it in some ways(but thought it a lovely tradition) now, I feel -undressed for church if I don’t have it on (if I go in a car in which I have not left one). I will even wear it to a NO where there aren’t any women wearing veils. I think most women don’t wear one because they are uncomfortable(or perhaps don’t want a stigma that it is tooo devout,) and does not match their ‘fashionable dress/hair’. It takes time to accustom your mindset, and once you do, it does help you to focus in church and not worry about those people and things around you. Honestly I don’t think it would help women to force them to wear a veil. Lets get them into better clothing first….some of the things women/girls wear to church is just BAD!

  81. Joanne says:

    Hope this doesn’t get me deleted, but : in a general response to women who hesitate to wear a chapel veil @ your OF Masses…I assist almost exclusively in the OF Mass (although now I do so @ an EF/OF parish). I was extremely self-conscious when I started wearing a veil because at the parish I was going to at the time, no one else was. And I tend to sit in the front @ Mass so I can focus better. The first few Masses I went to wearing a chapel veil, I was really nervous. People definitely notice. I was expecting negative comments from other Massgoers, either along feminist lines or about the “holier than thou” attitude that some perhaps thought I must have if I’m wearing a veil and sitting in front. I started wearing a veil in 2007 and so far, not one negative comment and many positive (mostly from men, but from some older women too). Long story short, if you feel that you should cover your head when you’re in the presence of the Eucharist, then do so. What else could be more important, whose opinion could be more important, than showing reverence to our Lord?

  82. I voted “I am female and YES. But it should be entirely voluntary, not a matter of law.” I don’t currently wear the chapel veil though I would like to and do have one. I just haven’t yet reached the point where I’d know exactly what my reason and intention in wearing it would be.

    That said I think it is absolutely ridiculous to require it by law. If you want to start regulating attire by law, how about starting with no flip-flops, short shorts, mini skirts or inappropriate t-shirts? I mean really. Is any other aspects of attire regulated by law? If so I haven’t seen it. When such things begin being regulated by law, then we can talk about requiring chapel veils.

  83. Lirioroja says:

    I voted female/no strong opinion.

    I do wear a mantilla in church and I wear it regardless of whether it’s an OF or an EF Mass. In fact, I started wearing a mantilla years before I knew what is now the EF even existed. For me, it’s strictly a personal devotion. The seed was planted in my heart to cover my head to honor God while I was a baby revert in the Charismatic Renewal. I chose a mantilla because in my Hispanic culture that’s what the women who did cover their heads used. I wear it first and foremost in reparation for the sins committed against the Blessed Sacrament and second in reparation for sins committed against chastity. Again, I stress that it’s strictly a personal devotion. I believe that a woman should decide for herself whether or not she wants to cover her head and that her decision ought to be respected by everyone. It’s not a sign of super-piety; God knows that I’m not. It’s not a reflection on the woman’s orthodoxy or lack of it. I know many wonderful, devout Catholic women who do not cover their heads. I spoke briefly with one last Sunday night whose unwavering faith and openness to God’s grace in the face of a family calamity put me to shame. Covering the head is up to the woman and it’s no one’s business if she does or doesn’t.

  84. aspiringpoet says:

    I’m female and wear hats in church and I voted YES. Whether it should be obligatory, I don’t know, but I (tentatively) voted yes on that as well. The strong promotion of the practice from St. Paul in the New Testament seems to me an argument for making it mandatory. Another argument for making it mandatory is that many women who want to cover their heads in church avoid doing so for fear of meeting with hostility (which is a real possibility) or appearing self-righteous, or because their pastors tell them not to; if the practice were mandatory, then women following the Biblical custom would have the support of the Church.

    As of now, the Church leaves women free to cover or not, but those that do are met with attitudes such as, “Well, fine, if you want to,” “I don’t see why it matters if you have a piece of cloth on your head, but whatever, as long as you don’t think you’re holier than me,” or “Why are you following that outdated custom?” etc, and these are the “accepting” attitudes. This belittling of a custom strongly supported by St. Paul in the Bible puzzles me greatly; and yes, I have read all the arguments about how only prostitutes didn’t cover their hair and it was cultural, etc, but these arguments do not sound terribly different to me from the arguments that the attitudes towards homosexuality in the New Testament were merely culturally conditioned. St. Paul attributed spiritual symbolism and theological significance to the head-covering practice, relating it to the heavenly hierarchy and the relation of woman to man and Christ to God; he didn’t say, “Women should cover their heads for now, because otherwise they look like prostitutes.”

    That said, I fully respect the Church’s right to keep the practice non-mandatory, and perhaps that is best for now. I will continue to cover my head, because it is spiritually meaningful for me, and because I haven’t found a good reason not to follow this custom which is both Biblical and traditional.

  85. Caroline says:

    I would love to see the veil return.. voted female/ yes but it should be voluntary. It brings back sweet memories as a young girl in Catholic school. We all had to carry one in a little case in our ‘bookbags’, to wear when went to church as a class . Loved those Dominican nuns.

  86. TKS says:

    I remember never entering a church uncovered in my youth but then in that era, all women wore hats, Catholic or not, most everywhere. I agree with the comment about clothing back in Jesus’ day – women don’t wear robes now either. The only three women I have seen wear a veil – and I know them well – are very peculiar so that puts me off. And I love it that men are saying women are more pious who are veiled. That’s a huge judgment call. If women bother you, keep your eyes closed, just as I do when I am distracted by people around me at Mass who come in very late or talk, etc. And I close my eyes a lot. But the funny part of this is that there are so many other problems that should be addressed first that are far more important. My opinion, of course.

  87. Caroline says:

    I would love to see the veil return.. voted female/ yes but it should be voluntary. It brings back sweet memories as a young girl in Catholic school. We all had to carry one in a little case in our ‘bookbags’, to wear when went to church as a class .

  88. chcrix says:

    Voted Yes, voluntary for aesthetic reasons.

    Like the custom, but don’t want to see ladies with napkins or kleenex on their head – like I sometimes used to when I was little.

  89. Geoffrey says:

    I voted “I am male and YES. But it should be entirely voluntary, not a matter of law.”

    I think it is a beautiful custom and should be encouraged at the highest levels in the Church, but requiring it by law in this day and age is just not feasible or realistic.

  90. Female. Yes. Obligatory. I think head covering is a kind of discipline that fosters reverence; sad experience over the last half century or so has taught us that when a discipline is optional, it functionally ceases to exist, and the end for which it was instituted in the first place is subverted. I’m afraid that if we are to be restored to a sense of where we are and what we are doing at Mass, the Church is going to have to start laying down the law and giving the law teeth. Without this, we have proven we just aren’t governing ourselves.

  91. Prof. Basto says:

    I voted: “I am male and YES. And I think it should once again be obligatory according to law”.

  92. bookworm says:

    Female, yes, optional. I’m all for promoting greater reverence and “specialness” in the Mass, and encouraging women who WANT to veil to do so without fear of being ridiculed or of calling unnecessary attention to themselves.

    However, making veiling/head covering mandatory would be, to put it mildly, a public relations nightmare because it imposes a positive obligation on women (to always have a head covering) but not on men (who merely have to take off their hat IF they have one in the first place). Also, there will inevitably be comparisons to the Muslim hijab and burka.

    If we want more modest dress at Mass, instead of focusing on veiling, why not just go to the root of the problem and institute a dress code for BOTH women and men? It doesn’t have to be elaborate — maybe just the same rules that apply to tourists at St. Peter’s Basilica. Cover from shoulders to knees with no obvious gaps (such as might be caused by low-cut jeans or men’s baggy pants), and maybe insist on BOTH sexes wearing at least short sleeves or a jacket/sweater/shawl over any sleeveless or low-cut clothing item.

    Finally, maybe this is just me, but if St. Paul thought a woman’s hair was her “glory,” he obviously never had a bad hair day or a botched perm, dye job or haircut :-)

  93. andreat says:

    I am a woman who used to wear a veil to Mass (Extraordinary Form) until I was accosted and accused of mortal sin for not wearing it one day when I left it at home. I also got fed up with new women coming to Mass and being told they had to wear one (by one woman who felt she had a duty to do so,, and that married women must only wear black veils and girls must only wear white veils, and hats are second best – never mind that the priest was clear that it was not required, but a pious custom) – I don’t object to women covering their head if they want to, but I do strongly object to women being told that it is obligatory and a matter of serious sin.

  94. Joan M says:

    I voted Female and No strong opinion one way or the other. I totally agree with what Supertradmum said.

    I am old enough to remember when head coverings were required. As a child and teenager I had my “Sunday hat”, which I wore to Sunday Mass. I usually had a head scarf with me in Spring, Autumn and Winter, so could easily cover my head when visiting a church, but in Summer problems could arise – putting a (hopefully clean) handkerchief – no tissues in those days – on top of a head of short hair meant constantly checking that the thing was in place.

    In my home town (I left there when I was 19), I never saw a veil, except on a nun. Mantillas were totally unknown. Hats could be simple berets, head scarfs, or elaborate edifices, but all females wore something.

    When I went to live in Dublin, that was where I was introduced to mantillas, and I did have a black one, worn with the point on top – still problems with keeping it on (bobby pins do not do much in short hair).

    Now I live in Trinidad. Most churches are not air conditioned. I have to position myself within range of one of the fans to not sweat profusely!! Wear something on my head? No way!! If it was made mandatory, it would probably be the smallest lace “doily” I could find, and I would, once again, be subjected to the mandatory checking that it was still there… most distracting.

    As for being scriptural, I totally agree that this specifically refers to the dress of the day, and, also, the fact that a woman’s long hair was a source of lustful temptation in those days (just as a glimpse of ankle was such only a bit more than a century ago…).

  95. JGR says:

    Female. Yes. Voluntary. I remember wearing a hat or head covering when I was very small–maybe preschool age. I went back to the practice about 5 or 6 years ago when I lived in the Western USA because of a movement of the heart in love of Our Lord. I think this is the best way.
    Women in our American culture have so many misinformed ideas of feminine identity that mandatory headcovering would be a great burden of the heart to many. Not that it would be “too hard” for them to understand the reasons, but that their hearts are very guarded because of cultural misinformation. I know I have no idea how God might use such a requirement to open hearts, but honestly, I don’t think God would ask this of them.
    I have lived in Japan for the past 4 years and find that about 1/4 to 1/3 of Japanese Catholic women wear lovely, lacey, white veils to Mass in the various Japanese parishes where I have assisted at the OF. (I have yet to find an EF Mass here.) On the American military base locally, I am the only one who wears a veil. And I am asked questions about it, but they have been honestly curious questions, not confrontational at all (thankfully–because I did feel very self-conscious about this practice in the beginning here as the only one in the church with a head covering).

    A note for the lady who asked about babies pulling the veil off. Yes, my toddler does this regularly. I have a small round black “doily” which shows less and lessens her interest. I find it sweet that when she finds my white veil in the pouch in my purse, she puts it on at Mass. Maybe if I get her a veil of her own, she will let me wear mine without pulling. :-)

  96. Annie says:

    I voted, yes and voluntary. I don’t think you can force anyone to.

    It’s such a seemingly small thing to do, but one that is so brim full of meaning. And even superficially, what’s wrong with continuing a tradition that has always been part of the church until relatively recently?

    On the hats vs mantillas debate, wear whatever you like, but I prefer mantillas/scarves because they’re more comfortable (and because they sometimes have to act as useful strategic blinkers and are easier to positon than a hat!)

  97. Belinda says:

    I voted ‘no strong opinion’. I am in my twenties and quite like the custom of head-covering in church (and btw I think it’s a pity that hats are so little worn in general nowadays). But in all honesty I am slightly put off by the great seriousness with which some men and women regard this matter. The devotional, quasi-mystical reasons some women give for covering their heads don’t make me feel more inclined to cover my head on a regular basis (rather than just keep my hat on if I am wearing one anyway)–but that’s just me and I completely respect their experience, just as I respect that some women are uncomfortable with the idea of veiling.

    In my opinion it would be a really bad idea to try to impose head-covering as a matter of law and I think it’s highly unlikely to happen. Holy Mother Church has so many battles to fight and so many necessary controversies to engage in that women’s head-covering has to be pretty low on her priority list. It’s unfortunate that women’s covering their heads has become associated with the very real subjugation of women practiced by members of a certain other religion. This really shouldn’t have any bearing on what we do as Catholics, but realistically it must have affected many people’s attitudes. That is, if were an exclusively Christian custom, as male head-covering is exclusively Jewish, I think there would be much less negative feeling about it.

  98. Athelstan says:

    I voted for a return of the custom; but even if made obligatory, as it once was, I am not in favor of strict policing of it, and I imagine few of us outside some of the more intransigent SSPX chapels would. It was the longstanding custom of the Church, until done away with suddenly and without explanation in the 1983 Code (and in practice, in the 15 years before that). The Church should not abandon her traditions. There is wisdom behind them.

    I think that the question of veiling gets to larger issues of respect for the Sacrament, which extends beyond what women wear on their head. Many posters have rightly pointed out that many men and women hardly dress in a fitting manner.

    This is not to suggest that men must absolutely wear a suit and tie (although I think it is a very good idea where possible) or that women must wear ankle length dresses (which are not always practical, especially for mothers of small children); but some kinds of attire are clearly not appropriate for mass. I think that, as a pastoral matter, a tougher line on attire for both sexes would be a good place to start.

  99. PghCath says:

    I voted male/no strong opinion. I think the Church needs to emphasize that everyone needs to dress respectfully for Mass, not just women.

  100. Athelstan says:

    P.S. As a sidenote, I find it interesting that the votes (so far) of women parallel those of men in more or less the same proportions. About 80% of men here favor a return of the custom in some form; about 70% of the women do. And the largest plurality of both sexes think it should be voluntary.

    The numbers skew male only because men make up the larger share of regular readers here.

  101. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    As a married priest my wife always wears a veil, however, she is still a strong women in a good way. St. John Chrsostom says, “It is pleasing to the angels.”

  102. Anna Barrie says:

    I voted yes and voluntary. I have both worn a scarf and not worn a scarf when I have attended our local EF mass (never having gotten a comment from fellow attendees either way). I think if the intention is to foster humility and reverence as well as to focus our attention on our prayer, then perhaps veil wearing should take into account the use of plain materials (simple cotton, linen or wool, natural and undyed, unadorned) and should be used by men as well. Jewish men cover their heads when they enter a temple, in fact yarmulkes are handed out to all men, Jewish or not, and some Jewish men use traditional prayer shawls when engaged in prayer. Perhaps some would argue that traditionally Christian men have not covered their heads in church, but given the general lack of reverence in the OF masses, a new tradition of everyone covering their heads with a long plain cloth would improve things. :)

  103. Titus says:

    I voted yes/discretionary. I think the “yes” vote doesn’t need a grand explication. The discretionary element, however, I went with for practical reasons: hats and other head coverings simply are not very common. For most of history, all people wore something on their heads most of the time: men took it off when they went into church, women kept it on. But today, few women own hats, and only a small number more own scarves, mantillas, etc. Even the nice, perfectly respectable clothes that many women own don’t “go” with head coverings. So it would be difficult on a practical level to compel head-covering at the moment without causing a lot of undue difficulty on the purely external level.

  104. green fiddler says:

    female – yes – voluntary
    I believe that when a woman covers her head as a sign of reverence for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, it should come from the heart, something done because one *wants* to do it.
    Our Lord deserves more veneration, more expressions of our honor and love.
    Whatever form it takes, devotion needs to come from within.

  105. fenetre says:

    I voted YES but I think it should be voluntary and not imposed. An act of submission and humility loses its meaning when it is forced on people who are unwilling. And as female I think wearing a veil is quite flattering and becoming, and it also provides a sort of privacy and seclusion which is truly condusive to prayer. In fact, I am so accustom to it, I feel naked when I go to NO without one, so I started veiling myself at NO. People stare, of course, but I think it is a matter between God and me. I want to respect him and humble myself the same way, regardless of whether I am going to TLM or NO. After all, it is the same Lord whom I am worshipping. I hope this movement spreads … imagine a sea of little B.V.M.s in the church, it will be such a pretty sight.

  106. Ellen says:

    I voted yes, but voluntary. I’ll admit to being skeeved out by the compulsory veiling that muslim women have to do. I saw a 6 year old girl in a hijab at the local library and was almost floored.

    That said, I do like the custom of wearing headcovering at Mass, but I don’t like the idea that not doing it makes one a shameful hussy.

  107. JaneC says:

    I voted yes, voluntary. I do cover my head in church, usually with a lace veil because the people behind me can’t see the choir director if I wear a hat with a brim. Also, nice hats are expensive, and considering that I don’t wear them anywhere but to church, I can’t justify imposing that on our tight budget.

    I hope that more women take up covering their heads in church, but I do believe that to make it a matter of law would be a serious public relations problem at this point, and that there are many more important issues. Besides which, I’m not sure that making it a matter of law would have all that much effect. After all, it is a matter of law to attend Mass on Sunday, not use contraception, and to either abstain from meat or perform some other penance on Friday, to confess your mortal sins once a year…and there are many, many Catholics who ignore those laws. Women who will not adhere to those laws are unlikely to suddenly take up covering their heads when they do attend Mass.

    By the way, did women stop covering their heads in 1983 when the new Code was issued, or did that start in the 1960s like everything else? (I was born in 1984, so I’m genuinely clueless on this one). If it did start before the new Code, that reinforces my theory that making it a matter of law will not help. Furthermore, if it’s in the Bible, we shouldn’t have to also have a separate law about it, right?

  108. Centristian says:

    I think it would be nice to walk into a Catholic Church and find that the majority of worshippers present are dressed appropriately, period. A congregation in which the majority of women have voluntarily covered their heads (in a subtle, tasteful way) out of respect would be a thing astounding, considering the way Catholics dress in church these days in general, but it would certainly represent a very refreshing change from the substandard contemporary norm.

    What I would not like to see happen, however, is that a scruple (common enough amongst ‘traditionalist’ women) should develop wherein women feel compelled to do ridiculous things, such as put handkerchiefs or even tissues on top of their heads, when they realize that they’ve forgotten to bring a hat or a veil or a chapel cap. I witnessed such strange things often enough in my former days as a “Lefebvrist”.

    I would also hate to see “mantilla enforcers” begin to pop-up in parishes: absurd busybodies who actually approach women not wearing veils or hats to admonish them for it. Again, that’s a Lefebvrist sort of thing, but I could see it happening in a mainstream setting, too, if this sort of issue is given more weight than it deserves.

    Whether or not women wear head coverings in church, what I think Catholics ought to recapture is a sense of taste, propriety, and demeanor, in general. Mormons, Baptists, Episcopalians all know how to dress and behave in Church. Catholics have lost all sense of it.

  109. nanetteclaret says:

    I voted that it should be mandatory for two reasons: 1) because Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament. Showing reverence for Our Lord would go a long way towards re-establishing a belief in the Real Presence. And 2) because St. Paul says that we should “because of the angels.” Who are we to argue with him? If we believe that Sacred Scripture is the Divinely inspired Word of God, then the Lord is speaking to us in St. Paul’s instructions. To me, it’s a no-brainer.

  110. SimonDodd says:

    As I recall, the rule was essentially “do as you would not normally do”: women had to cover their heads, but the corollary was that men had to uncover their hats. That rule became less vigorous because men stopped wearing hats as a rule, but sometimes they do, typically baseball caps. I urge symmetry. If women are encouraged to veil, men should be encouraged to lose the hat; if women are required to veil, men should be required to lose the hat; and if nothing is changed, well, men should still be encouraged to lose the hat—you’d think it’s just common sense!

    FTR, I voted yes, but voluntary. I do think it’s nice, and I think it should be encouraged—as should dressing well in Church, as several commenters above have noted. You want to think of the church as the king’s throne room. If we’re serious about what we believe is in that tabernacle, it is the king’s throne room. All our choices about decoration, dress, music, and so forth should reflect that fact: “Is this what I would do in the presence of the king? Am I bringing my very best?” So many abuses would shake out if that mindset took root. Boys would not wear ratty jeans, girls would not wear tube tops, and musicians would not inflict David Haas on anyone ever again. The black would be said and the red would be done. It would be a happier world. Say it with me: “This is the king’s throne room. We will act accordingly.”

  111. Carolina Geo says:

    Anybody who has been paying attention to what the past few decades have shown us will realize that when any Church discipline has not the force of canonical law behind it, it will be ignored. Best example: meatless Fridays. How’s that Friday penance going for 99% of Catholics these days?

    Thus, I voted to make the wearing of chapel veils canonically mandatory once again. Besides, if we wish to reestablish some semblance of Catholic identity in the Church, here is another prime potential identifier.

    But I do agree that there is a much larger issue at hand: that of dressing appropriately at Mass in the first place. Of course, when the Mass is devolved at most parishes to resemble little more than a hootenanny, is it any wonder that people dress as they do? Reestablish the Traditional Latin Mass as *the* Mass, and people will catch on.

  112. Gail F says:

    I’m a woman and I voted that I don’t care either way. I can see both sides have good points and bad points. On the bad side, women wear all sorts of inappropriate attire (men too) so a veil would hardly fix that. And a big objection to me is what I hear happening in Muslim countries — when more and more women veil, the rest experience a huge pressure to do so and people begin making all sorts of assumptions about “what’s wrong with” those who do not choose to veil. On the other hand, if it were obligatory then you would eliminate those problems but would have others: resentment from some, a weekly (or daily) fight with hair for others, questions about taste, judgements about which covers are better, etc. Seems to me that there are many more important issues than this one.

  113. Rachel K says:

    I voted for “no” because I think that reverence in church and during mass has more to do with internal disposition than external dress, although within that I believe in modesty in dress both in and outside church. I am very happy for those who wish to to choose to wear a mantilla . I am concerned that in some families it is expected that the girls all wear mantillas and that there is a danger in the issue becoming polarised- those who think it is “right” or “wrong” to do so. Fr Knox reminds us that sometimes the most pious can be least charitable and sometimes I think that mantilla-wearers can be making a point to non-wearers! I have never worn one and do not wish to do so. I think making this compulsory again would be a retrograde step. Let us focus on our interior disposition- praying in spirit and in truth.

  114. AnAmericanMother says:

    Female, yes, mandatory — with reservations.

    What I would really like to see is a strong statement from the Vatican that veiling is “preferred” or “strongly suggested,” and backing up the statement with good instruction – Scriptural citations, Church Fathers, etc. Whatever language would leave an “out” for people who actually find this offensive for whatever reason, while still indicating that ladies really ought to veil in church unless they have a good reason not to. This would provide a conscience exemption while giving support to those who want to veil but suffer from lack of support or outright nasty comments, or are afraid of appearing “holier than thou”.

    We’ve been away from formality for so long that it’s going to take some serious “push” to head back in that direction.

    And I think that veiling would support a trend back to more modest dress at Mass. What could possibly look sillier than a lace mantilla on top of a heavy metal T-shirt and cutoff jeans?

    Lovely John Lewis chalk sketch, btw.

  115. JPManning says:

    I voted yes, and I think it should be obligatory. Perhaps not universally but bishops should be able to impose it on local churches. I think this is an important issue for the conversion of muslims which will have to become an increasing priority in London. I have several devout muslim colleagues and friends. They would be scandalised to see how people dress for Mass. They recognise that God wants us to dress modestly. How can we convince muslims that God wants them to come to Mass if they see people dressed in exactly the same manner as those in general society whose debauched values the muslims reject?

  116. Ana says:

    As a female, I votes yes and voluntary.

    I began covering my head at Mass almost a decade ago and it was a transforming experience for me spiritually and personally. For starters, I began putting more thought in what I wore to Church which led to more care in what I wore on a daily basis as it was not uncommon for me to pop in to visit the tabernacle. Modesty became more ingrained in my daily life and my attire also led to changes in how I carried myself. Usually interior changes require some sort of a push so exterior changes are necessary to bring about interior changes, because we realize that we have to act in a manner that is congruent with the our attire.

    Aside from visitors at daily Mass, I was the only woman veiling in my parish. This occasionally led to uncalled for comments from visitors, but mostly the parish was accepting and the men in my parish always complimented the habit. Women began asking why I wore a veil at Mass, but did not criticize the habit. Eventually, more women began veiling.

  117. Lily says:

    Fr. Z, I have had the chance to speak with many women who have told me that they would wear a head covering if only more people would. They have the desire to veil in order to please the Lord, but they are afraid of what other people might think. I believe a little reassurance from the church would go a long way to get rid of the current peer pressure *not* to veil.

  118. benedetta says:

    Voted female/no strong opinion either way specifically on veiling. Would only note that generally the decline of decorum for not just church but other formal and informal occasions. At one time, men could be seen at a ball game in jacket and hat. Yet now even in church grown men, who perhaps have a dress code during their workweek, can be seen along side children and teens dressed in the same sneaker/flip flop/shorts/tshirt Saturday around the house uniform. Perhaps our clergy feel a little awkward in any attempt to increase expressions of reverence, quiet, humility from laity under such conditions?

  119. thereseb says:

    Female – voluntary.

    As a kid with a white mantilla I was very jealous of my big sisters’ black ones. Then they went before I was big enough to get one!

    I started wearing the veil to the EF – with Sunday best on a Sunday and whatever on a Friday. I now wear it for Solemn OFs at the same church. It definitely enhances the experience – though I can’t quite put my finger on why. I can’t get hats to fit – so it’s veil or headscarf for me. I am branching out gradually with my own little viral marketing campaign. Luckily I’m of an age (50) and disposition (doughty) where people’s comments and opinions are water off a duck’s back. I have noticed more mantillas popping up at the EFs – mainly older ladies. I would not like to arrive at Mass and have to leave or feel uncomfortable if I forgot or lost it. I suspect that there is a little girl inside me that likes dressing up(!) but there’s no harm in that really, if it helps me rather than distracts me from prayer.And I suspect that if younger and trendier ladies started wearing them they would take off in a big way. I noticed that when the Pope came, Princess Michael and her daughter wore them in the cathedral, which was interesting.

  120. dap says:

    Sadly, the debate over what constitutes the appropriate female dress code has led to much divisiveness and uncharitable behavior. Too many women have been driven away from the Latin Mass because of the abuse they received from the head scarf/no-pants inquisition. Clothing choices are entirely subjective and culturally relative and it is not worth bludgeoning each other over this subject unless traditionalists want to repel lots and lots of healthy, faithful women from their communities.

  121. I vote YES. Mandatory or not, it should return at once. It should never been away.
    Now my confession: I’d like so much to wear it but I would be the only one at it and I have already all the church looking at me because I kneel before Communion. It’s cowardice, I know. I really need encouragement and someone else that does it also. On kneeling, it was my older daughters who began – yes, I said that we should kneel for Communion and they began at once, before me. On the veil, they say they don’t feel the urge, yet. So, I’m alone. But in time I will wear it.

  122. mysticalrose says:

    I am female and voted for it to be obligatory. I think veiling is a wonderful custom and it is Scriptural. Yet, I don’t ever wear a veil because I am allergic to sticking out, and I am already a non-caucasian so I stick out enough at church as it is. If this custom were reinstituted I would be the first one out the door to go buy a veil!

  123. TravelerWithChrist says:

    I veil at mass – any mass I attend. In fact, I veil any time I am in the presence of Jesus.

    1Corinthians11 says a woman who prays with hear head unveiled brings shame upon her head; also, because of the angels. — I started veiling a couple of years ago after a priest told me in a bible study session that this was no longer valid because it was outdated – old-fashioned. That began the research process, because how can anyone pick and choose which parts of the bible apply to today?? The bible is a living document.
    I didn’t want to veil, it can seem quite a inconvenience. It can be annoying as a mom with little children. But I stick with it. God doesn’t ask us to succeed, but keep trying. I discovered so many graces that came with the veiling. God is so good!

  124. off2 says:

    Male. Obligatory.
    1) I’m a strong traditionalist.
    2) As a society we seem to be loosing the healthy ways of differentiating between the sexes.
    (I have had to ask grown men visiting my church to remove their baseball caps during services.)

  125. TravelerWithChrist says:

    I’d like to say that for most masses I attend, I stand out — I am 6′, and I bring my 6 young children. At most masses I am one of a handful who veils.
    There are even more graces to be received in situations of being a role model for others. (You can hide behind the veil or scarf and keep your eyes on Jesus to avoid stares and looks.)

  126. I voted yes but voluntary, because I think it’s a laudable custom but that rules would be silly. There’s no rules about how to fold your hands, what moment men should take off their caps, or enforcement of Tertullian’s rule that all decent men should wear cloaks (I guess today that would be jackets or at least scarves or ties). Paul’s long hair as woman’s glory thing is an interesting remark, because of course Proverbs says that “gray hair is a crown of glory” and that “gray hair is the glory” of old men. No Grecian Formula for you, guys!

    But seriously, it’s perfectly reasonable and seemly for a woman to wear some kind of hat or scarf to church. It no more debases us than anyone is debased by genuflecting to God’s Presence. It doesn’t need elaborate devotional reasons; we should just do it because that’s what Catholic women have done since the beginning. Obviously we need to avoid a Muslim look (and particularly, Muslim rationales and criteria of ‘modesty’, by which some really mean slinking around in abject slavery) or any suggestion that we do solely it for men who have creepy hair fetishes (who need therapy, not mantilla’d pewmates). It’s simple, and it’s for God, and there’s no need to make a big deal about it or preen ourselves upon it (much less give nasty glances to women who don’t).

  127. TheRanter says:

    I voted ‘female and yes, but voluntary’. A few years ago, I was veiling, and the priest stated that he would not allow me to read whilst wearing the veil. I stopped reading.

  128. AnnM says:

    I voted “no” because I believe that the concept of head-covering as a way of showing respect has become rather meaningless in the modern world and I have yet to be convinced why wearing a piece of lace on my head actually honours the Blessed Sacrament. I prefer to keep my piety private and I think the Church was eminently sensible in dropping the rule, thus making it a matter of personal choice. Those Canon Lawyers did study St Paul you know – they were not complete ignoramuses! (However that doesn’t mean I don’t respect women who want to do it, though I fear their arguments are sometimes rather muddled. What, for example, is the purpose of those small scraps of lace, which don’t cover anything? ) I go to Extraordinary Form Masses in European countries where veils are not worn at all. It just isn’t an issue and makes the whole experience of Mass much more relaxing and conducive to genuine worship. I don’t want to be distracted and/or made to feel inadequate by some woman fiddling and rearranging her veil in front of me, any more than I want to be distracted by some man in shorts and a baseball cap. Appropriate dress is what we should be concentrating on. Dressing as elegantly as possible is, IMHO a far more meaningful modern way of honouring God. I am somewhat troubled by those American “Latin Mass” churches which have a basket of veils at the back for women to borrow. Apart from being a rather unhygienic practice :) it sends out a message that women who choose not to wear a veil are somehow inferior Catholics. This is unacceptable; there should not be different forms of dress for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, which are both equally valid. But so many women feel they “have” to wear a veil when they go to a Latin Mass. Why? It’s also rather insulting to the millions of devout woman, loyal to Church teachings, who don’t wear veils. Sadly, it has put me off going to those churches as I find my irritation at this self-righteous practice undoes all the beauty of the Mass itself. I’d rather throw in my lot with sinners like myself who go to the Ordinary Form :) .Incidentally, I am also rather puzzled by this whole obsession with “veiling”. I can remember the pre V2 Church (just!) and women, certainly in Britain, wore hats or scarves rather than veils. Of course this may have been different in other countries. I am lucky in that the American Extraordinary Form Mass that I attend regularly is fairly evenly split between veil-or-hat-wearers and those who don’t and no one ever mentions it. (So far – and long may that continue!)

  129. a catechist says:

    I’m a woman, 40, and voted yes, voluntary.
    I hate standing out in Mass, but the desire to veil became more distracting than not veiling, so I got a couple of veils at the very faithful gift shop of the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Ohio. I cover my head most of my waking hours, so it was just *weird* for Mass to be the only place I wasn’t covered. I take it off if my baby is trying hard to eat it, but it didn’t take long for him to stop. Ideally, I prefer to wear a veil (a Mass veil, not my all-the-time bandanna) & light a candle while reading Scripture, but that is sometimes impossible with a toddler.

    I’ve had many years of clothing -related emotional baggage because of my upbringing, and that’s not uncommon. Mandating the veil would be very harmful, I think, for the many women who have baggage of this kind.

  130. Joe in Canada says:

    I voted yes voluntarily because I think there’s a whole middle range of things like veiling and fasting that comes from scripture and the earliest sources that are expectations of Christians but don’t need to be forced by law. I think of the fasting practices of the eastern Church in which the faithful are expected to appropriate as much as they can bear of the monastic fasting ascesis, not because it is a law, but because it is conducive to a true Christian spirit. In some of these matters, I think making them laws removes their pedagogic value since the focus is on the action rather than the spirit. When fasting eg is a law, once the action is complete (in some satisfactory sense) any further claims of the spirit can be ignored. The minimum becomes the norm and, as we have seen in the past 50 years, new minimums can be set.

  131. Karen Russell says:


    Given the present climate of dissent in many places and the number of other rules which are ignored, making it mandatory would be at best an exercise in futility and at worst a disaster. (Remember how communion in the hand came in?) There are many more important issues to be addressed.

    That said, it is a beautiful custom and I would love to see it come back.

    I should clarify that by “it” I mean the custom of a woman covering her head, not necessarily “veiling.” Where I grew up, hats were the norm and mantillas did not appear until the 60’s, when hats went out and women needed something compact they could pull out of a purse when needed.

    Lace veils are beautiful. I have a couple, and wore one happily at the one TLM I have been able to attend in the last 35 years. But hats are (at least can be) much less conspicuous, for those of us who are concerned about projecting the wrong message. Scarves I am becoming uncomfortable with because, as others have mentioned, they are edging close to hijab. I’ve personally never liked hats much, but I will admit this thread has me thinking about finding a simple beret which would cover without screaming “pious traditionalist” in my very “Spirit of Vatican II” diocese. There are a few other women of my generation in my parish who sometimes wear a hat.

  132. o.h. says:

    Another woman voting “voluntary”; though it would be so nice to have a little explicit and public encouragement from presbyterial (or even episcopal) quarters. Thanks to Fr. Z for providing some of that.

    My reasoning was simple: it seemed to me one ought to default to tradition, unless there were some strong reason otherwise. I could see no strong reason not to follow a 1900+ year Catholic tradition other than anxieties about others judging me for it, so I began wearing a head covering. First I began wearing a hat to Mass, but in a Southwestern diocese that’s more than half Hispanic, it stood out: and one Sunday an usher physically blocked my entry into Mass, telling me in Spanish that I must remove my hat to come in to the church. I have worn chapel veils since, and get only smiles and nods from the ushers. When in New Spain….

    It’s a good thing I hadn’t read Catholic comboxes discussing the issue when I made my decision, though. If I’d had any idea how many Catholic women would be assuming that I wear a veil out of self-righteousness, hypocritical piety, or contemptible ignorance that women before Vat2 wore hats, I would never have had the courage to begin.

  133. Tina in Ashburn says:

    I would like to see head coverings mandatory again. I never knew the rules had changed – where is that written?

    It would help if people understood the reasons women should cover their heads. But just like anything else, this kind of information is scarce. The reasons involve reverence, history, theology, chastity, humility, Scripture, tradition, etc. This is not about “men are better than women”.

    But I also believe that kneeling for Holy Communion on the tongue should be mandatory and Communion in the Hand be abolished. There are similar reasons of reverence, etc., as cited above, that support this practice as well.

    So much teaching is needed, so many changes are needed. But at this point, how we can put ‘new wine’ into ‘old wine skins’ successfully is beyond my comprehension. We have generations that are completely lost to the real Faith. We must start over.

  134. Will D. says:

    I’m a man, and I voted that I have no strong opinion on the subject.
    If women feel called to wear it, I fully support them. If they don’t, I see no problem there either.
    There are bigger fish to fry in the church, both in external things (immodest or overly casual clothing at Mass), and the internal things (the Sacrament of Penance and Sacrament of Marriage).

  135. Rachel says:

    I am female and I voted that it be obligatory since we have lost so much of our traditions and I would like to see a return to it. However, if a woman isn’t wearing a hat or a veil at Mass, I’m not going to look down on her at all. I wear a veil anytime I go to Mass at both the EF and the OF or even if I go into a church to pray or visit. I feel that it respects the Blessed Sacrament and that it won’t be a distraction to most people. I have very long hair so I wear a very long black veil from September to Easter and a white or cream veil from Easter to Pentecost and a green one from Pentecost to September. I think that we need to get back to the disciplines of the Church which also includes meatless Fridays, etc. Also, it would be good to revive other traditions such as actually following the liturgical year not just on Sundays but all days of the week.

  136. Bathilda says:

    I am female and voted no, it should not return. I read on a comment for another blog that the veiling rule was in the same rule that stated men and women should sit on opposite sides of the church. should we go back to that, too? Women do not need to be singled out in that way. I think that the Church has enough to deal with right now. I have many problems with the Church in general, and if this were made into Law, I would not attend Mass again.

  137. colospgs says:

    Male/Yes/Mandatory. It would certainly get people talking about piety again. And people would also talk/complain about heavy-handedness. With all the polls out there about so many Catholics who disagree with the Church about her teachings, maybe this will help “out” the disobedient ones. Maybe I long too much for a smaller, more faithful Church.

  138. Tony Layne says:

    I voted “no strong feelings one way or another”. I would like to see head coverings come back, but I don’t think requiring it will do much good—cafeteria and C&E Catholics don’t pay much attention to ecclesial norms to begin with. But more to the point, I’d like it to come back as part of a more general movement by the laity towards proper dress for Mass. I think if we take care of the bigger issues—proper catechesis, more effective homilies, elimination of liturgical improprieties—the smaller issues will start to resolve themselves.

  139. rebecca76 says:

    I am saddened to hear a lector was asked to remove her chapel veil. I am a cantor and wear mine when I sing (which includes singing the Responsorial Psalm from the ambo). There is a lector who wears hers as well (both of us wear one that is below shoulder length). Over the past few years, I’ve noticed the number of women wearing headcoverings at my parish has increased noticeably. Those who wear headcoverings encourage women who would like to do so, but are fearful for some reason or other. If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “I’d like to wear a chapel veil, but no one else does. . .”

  140. rebecca76 says:

    Forgot to add my vote: female/yes/voluntary.

  141. MJ says:


    I wear a mantilla every time I enter a Catholic church – whether for an EF Mass, an OF Mass, or some other function (baptism, etc).

    I would never look down on a woman who didn’t wear one (and I never have), but I believe this practice should be brought back and should be mandatory.

  142. MikeM says:


    I think it’s a nice and scriptural symbol, but not exactly a pressing matter. While I don’t think it should be mandatory, I would favor priests and others cheerfully supporting the idea (without guilting those who do not feel comfortable wearing it now.) I’ve talked to several women who feel uncomfortable being the only one wearing one, so perhaps if someone gave a short presentation saying “Hey, look at this beautiful symbol from our tradition! Here’s what it meant to the people at the time… oh, and btw, while you don’t have to do it, it’s still a valid devotion now, so, women, you’re certainly encouraged to take it up if you feel so inclined.”

    I don’t think it’s worth sowing a lot of division over it right now, but I think it would be good to explain to people what it means (and that it’s not some tool of male oppression… which, for whatever reason, some women seem to believe), which would help people learn about Catholic traditions, give them a lesson in the faith, and help remove pressure from women who might want to wear one who don’t feel comfortable doing so right now or who don’t want to have to worry about being badgered with a lot of questions about it.

  143. Alex P says:

    I voted ‘Yes’, and that it should be the law.

    Go to any mass in Korea, and almost 100% of the women there wear the mantilla. I asked a Korean seminarian friend of mine why so many women did so and he said ‘It is the law here’. I never got the sense that any of the women I knew there felt ‘repressed’ by such a requirement and, indeed, their humility shined through by submitting to what was required of them by the Bishops. The sight of a sea of women all wearing a mantilla during mass was quite beautiful, and brought a very palpable sense of reverence and beauty to the celebration of mass.

  144. APX says:

    I am female and I voted that I don’t have a strong opinion one way or another. I think there are bigger immodesty problems in the Church to address first. It does no good to wear a mantilla as a sign of modesty if you’re wearing a strapless dress that’s so short you’d have a wardrobe malfunction at the slightest breeze.

  145. pimentinha says:

    I’m female, 29, and voted yes, voluntary. I would like to see it become more common for women to veil. The reason I hesitate to do it now is that, like many who have previously commented, I don’t want to attract attention to myself.

    For me, putting on a veil upon entering church signifies that I am somewhere holy, different than the outside world, set apart. In the same way that the church environment can promote a sense of reverent peace and contemplation, many experience the interior effect of other outward signs (“smells and bells”). The act of veiling myself brings into my mind: “May I decrease so that He will increase.” Less of me, more of Him!

    My mom grew up in Brazil. She used to tell me that all the women wore veils; white for girls, black for married women. I always liked that idea.

    When I got married, I opted to wear a mantilla rather than one of those poofy veils. I just thought it looked better. I was surprised how many men commented on how much they liked my mantilla. A large portion of people at my wedding were not even Catholic. I suspect that because images associated with elevated, set-apart femininity are scarcely seen these days, people (men in particular) are attracted to widely-understood symbols of that, even subconsciously. So that might explain the enthusiastic response from the men. :)

  146. dancingcrane says:

    Voted female/yes/voluntary. I’m very Eastern Catholic in that I think it’s better to focus on voluntary maximalism than legal minimalism. If mandated by law, many will do so just to follow the law. If that helps their spiritual life, all to the good. Hopefully, with good catechesis, many others will see the deeper symbolism of this beautiful custom, and be drawn even further into our rich Faith.

  147. Varda says:

    I am female and voted I do not have a strong opinion either way. Part of the reason I don’t is that I honestly do not understand the rationale behind it and I do not know where to find a good explanation of why or why not women’s heads should be covered. Women had stopped wearing or being required to wear head coverings/veils before I was born. If the Church did make it mandatory then I would wear one of course. In my parish there is a lady who distributes Communion and wears a veil which seems to be a strange mixture of new and old, but it is not an issue and I don’t think any one would tell her to stop wearing it. I never ever see hats except knitted ones in winter to keep warm. It seems to me that it is very important as a woman to dress in a modest and I guess quiet way, so as not to draw a lot of attention to myself when I am at church. I prefer to blend in at Mass in a quiet way in terms of dress and behavior if that makes sense. But, I trust the Church to make the right decisions and if the rule was -wear a veil – I would wear one and it would not bother me or make me feel as I was being singled out as inferior to men or anything like that.

  148. Charivari Rob says:

    I didn’t vote as my opinion wasn’t one of the choices.

    I am a male. I don’t much care if a woman does/doesn’t make it her practice. It’s a nice practice with some points to recommend it – but I wouldn’t go to the point of saying a woman should do so. I do believe fairly strongly that it should not be obligatory.

  149. ALL:  Thank you for the votes and very interesting responses.

    Again, don’t engage each other or respond to each other the combox. 

    Let people be completely free to post without wondering if someone is going to jump on the comment. 

    We want many voices and opinions here.

  150. Calypso says:

    I voted that yes, the custom should be returned, but I am less sure whether I think it should be mandatory or voluntary. Personally, I do wear a veil myself anytime I am in Mass or in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament (as in Benediction, Adoration, etc.). With the way things have been the last 45 years, it’s hard for me to presume to be a good judge in thinking that other women who were not brought up the way I was would react in a favorable way to such a “new” mandatory obligation. The Supreme Law of the Church (that of the Salvation of Souls) must be kept in mind at all times.

    That being said, I think it is also important to keep in mind the proper respect due to Our Lord (much of which has been sometimes found lacking by the very ceremonies themselves — again, for the past 45 years), and also the signs that I constantly see around me of people resisting to submit to anything more difficult than that which IS obligatory. Thus, I tend to lean more towards endorsing the use of the chapel veil and with more force than just the usual “if you want to”.

    It’s interesting to me that it seems more men have voted (so far) than women!

  151. mike cliffson says:

    male yes not oblig.
    Declare interest: High local unemployment in Spain, the eldest of my eleven can’t work here, mantilla exports might help a touch.
    Pre-vat2 uk memories: most women, like mum, hadmantillas in handbag, for if they should get the chance of a weekday mass or whatever ,a few had discreetish sort of hats, large minority neither (some just not that mass, some never, NO massive ascot/anglican creations, no fuss in general,(True, some few women hysterical abt going mass uncovered and would even miss their sunday obligation rather than.)
    I strongly mistrusted veils (chapel or otherwise, I mean over the face) then, honourable exeptions but broadly speaking veilers pi and judgemental upmarket frontpew hoggers and priest”owners” /monoplizers , don’t trust veils now, on account moslems even less so.
    In general : all sorts of catholic culture fits in with, Xmastide to candlemas, celebrate st nickolas on 6th Dec, create a frost around bad language, domestic floor to cieling cruxifixes ikons , say rosaries in public………YOU know.

  152. mike cliffson says:

    PS “noncatholic ” female headgear on a LARGE scale at catholic weddings way back then , oh yesss indeedyweedy, as now, and quite right too.

  153. kolbe1019 says:

    I am a male and I voted yes.

    Take this for what its worth. If we look at the use of a veil or mantilla in light of the Theology of the Body… For women who realize that they are beautiful by virtue of them being a woman in some aspects the crown jewel of creation… their veil is a sign that in Church there is somebody who is even more beautiful. For men a woman being veiled in the presence of God is a sign that his ultimate end is ultimately God who created him… a practical outcome would be less distraction.

    So I think it would be helpful to regain a sense of the sacredness of the presence of God. It would increase the disposition of the women because they are humbling themselves before their God and it would increase the disposition of the men around them. Although I think it should be mandatory because it would make a positive difference…. I think there are a few things that will make a bigger difference and these bigger things should first be addressed…

    So my vote is yes… mandatory but only after a long catechesis and foundation in a Eucharistic Centered lifestyle… many would be opposed, because most women don’t wear veils they will be defensive…”I never wore one before” “If I don’t want to wear one… that doesn’t make me bad” etc… so instead of being mandatory to wear… it should be mandatory that pastors and educators at all levels foster a love for Christ in the Eucharist and this desire to do all for love of Christ will grow in the hearts of the women.

  154. kab63 says:

    To cover because our hair is a glory always seemed like a secondary reason to me. We cover (if we do) because of our wombs. A miracle happens within a woman’s body. Holy vessels, such as the chalice, are covered at church and women fall within that definition.

  155. Mariana says:

    Female – yes – voluntary, but would in no way object to mandatory. I think it’s simply beautiful and we could all use more beauty at Mass/ in church!

    But do we actually know the Holy Father’s opinion on this?

  156. SSPX Tradition7 says:

    I voted : Female, yes-mandatory.

    I long for the day when tradition will be restored once again to every Catholic church in the entire world….so that there will no longer be the odd question amongst fellow Catholics: “What kind of Catholic are you? ” Novus Ordo? Traditional? Sedevacantist? Fraternity of St. Peter?
    It would be so wonderful to be able to go to any Catholic church for Mass knowing the practices and beliefs are the same there as anywhere!

    Wearing a chapel veil is a beautiful thing! It shows reverence and respect to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Wearing a veil takes all the vanity out of how our hair looks to everyone around us so we can focus on what we are there for…..to adore Almighty God in the most Blessed Sacrament.

  157. bjbf says:

    am grateful for the poll as my face got a tad red when i saw the story the other day. got up female, voted yes (since i NEVER stopped wearing either a hat or mantilla) and “mandatory” for 3 reasons. first, it costs ladies nothing to honor God in His house in this way. second, having lived through over 40 years of endless shades of gray courtesy of “whatever you’re comfortable with”, i’ve come to the conclusion that leaving a window cracked in any way allows far more than a breeze to blow through. and finally, the old but always good to remember story from Father Groeschel about a Protestant response to the True Presence ~ “if I believed what you say you believe, I’d crawl every inch to the Tabernacle”…

  158. Cricket says:

    Answer: Female/NO. The issue is really one of modesty & decorum for EVERYBODY at Mass.
    Not long ago I entered my parish church for the Sunday TLM. I was wearing a high collared, long sleeved, below-the-knee wool dress, neutral color. A gentleman in the vestibule reprimanded me for not “veiling.” By contrast he had on blue jeans, a wrinkled shirt unbuttoned practically to the waist, no undershirt, & multiple gold chains around his neck. Which of us was dressed more “modestly?” Why the double standard?

  159. ethele says:

    I voted that I am female and I don’t have a strong opinion. I do have a slight preference for it returning but being voluntary, as I’m not sure I could keep track of a head covering I use only for church, especially when rushing out the door while shepherding children. However, I would love to feel comfortable when wearing a head covering, as I also think it is a beautiful custom. If I were to be the only one wearing a head-covering, I’d probably feel either self-conscious or self-righteous and be ill-disposed for Mass – unless it had been encouraged or suggested by a superior in faith, in which case I could rest in the peace of obedience.

    I have mixed feelings on it being required. I would hate to see a woman be shamed, not be allowed to attend Mass, or not be allowed receive Eucharist just because she didn’t wear a head covering, if her heart were in the right place. Requiring the mantilla strictly places an additional barrier to women attending Mass that men don’t face, as a woman’s covering could be lost or forgotten. The more active role of women in many parishes in the Church and in many families at this time (at least in many places in the US) makes this especially important, as a mother may be discouraged from attending if, for example, her mantilla is forgotten in the hustle of getting children out the door. If she is already struggling with a husband whose faith is lax or lapsed or even non-existent and doesn’t see the point of her going home to fetch it and then coming back yet again (e.g., “If they won’t let you in without it, they aren’t worth the effort”), this could be very hard for her family’s spiritual health, as any barrier to her practice of faith will become a barrier for him and their children as well. My husband refused to set foot in a certain parish for two years because the ushers came up to us after Mass and told us that we should exit the church entirely when our children are noisy during Mass (one usher actually pointed me to the rain-covered steps as he said this; in my husband’s defense, a large part of his obstinacy was due to my own tears at being told such a thing after the difficult Mass we had just endured, and he was trying to protect me from another similar encounter). Fortunately, it wasn’t our local parish – but it shows how small barriers for a mother can harm her entire family. If I were sent away from Mass because I had no head covering, I have no doubt it would evoke a similar protectiveness from my husband, who knows how important the Mass is to me.

    So if it were required, I’d like to see a requirement along the lines of, “All women should do this. If they fail unintentionally, it is more important to attend Mass, even daily Mass, and they have no need to confess. If they fail intentionally, they should seek to understand the Church’s teaching and confess after repenting, but should still attend Mass in the meantime.” And I’d like to see churches have back-ups available for women who for some reason don’t have their own with them, when the parish can afford this.

  160. Felicia says:

    I’m female and think it should be voluntary. Obsessing about hair strikes me as pagan, but if it makes you feel holier, go ahead.

  161. My username probably tells the whole story, but I’m a woman and I voted YES-mandatory.

    First and foremost– it’s a focus thing for me. I put on the veil, I’m in the House of God, not at some community gathering. I focus on my Lord and God, not on the people around me.
    Also, I think that veils encourage modesty. I cannot bring myself to wear jeans with my veil… it just doesn’t look right. For young women around my age, modesty is something that needs to be promoted. I am heartily sick of seeing classmates who don’t cover their bossoms properly.
    Third: Sacred things are veiled, and the bearers of new life do have part in the sancity of life. (I’d also like to see the Tabernacle veiled again so that your average Jane doesn’t think that veiling is just a random thing for women.)
    Lastly, I never outgrew playing dress up and veils are PRETTY!!! :)

  162. Elizzabeth says:

    Female. Voted yes, and it should be made obligatory (or the obligation, if it still exists should be made manifest to people again). I was torn between it being voluntary or an obligation, as I came to wearing one first through an act of reparation for all the grossly immodest dress I was witnessing at OR Mass, and I do think that that is something that seriously needs sorting out (plonking a bit of black lace on yer bonce when you’ve got on skin tight jeans, and your belly showing, as I have even witnessed at an EF Mass, seems a bit of a joke) so it should perhaps be a priority that more preaching is done on what exactly is suitable attire for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for both sexes. I would never want to see a ban on women entering Church without a head-covering though, but I for one am grateful if someone can lend me a scarf or mantilla if I have forgotten mine, as I now feel inadequately dressed if I enter the Lord’s presence without one! (after having worn it for the past 5 yrs). I don’t give a toss what people think of me, that’s their problem – and it’s a real one if they think that I think that it’s “more pious” to wear a mantilla, it has nothing to do with that. But it has been a great aid to focusing my mind on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and when I think that I am actually present at the foot of the Cross, with our Blessed Mother during Mass, and on my knees before my Maker, it seems so appropriate to have my head covered. I would hope that if it were made obligatory once again, then it might enable people to see how necessary it is to dress in a decent manner before Our Lord and the whole Heavenly Court.

  163. Supertradmum says:

    One of the criticisms which the Catholic Church throughout the ages had to deny was that it was a “cult”. This was the original criticism of the Romans, who saw Christianity as a threat against the national, pagan religion of the Roman Empire, as just one more Eastern cult. One should always ask one’s self whether a particular custom or rule is based on Doctrine or Dogma, given to us by Christ and through the Tradition of the Church, and whether something is custom, whether laudatory or not, temporary or not. The beauty of being a Catholic, besides belonging to a Church which is the One, Holy, Universal (Catholic) Church, is that we can use our reason to separate out Faith from deceit, Hope from unrealistic fantasies, and Love from Emotion. Part of the reasonable process for us Catholics is to accept and accept the changes of cultures around us with an eye to what is good and what is truly bad. Conformity may be good or bad. Non-conformity may or may not be a good. Obviously, with regard to morals and doctrinal truths, conformity must be to the Teaching Magisterium, and our consciences must be formed likewise.

    What concerns me about the question asked here, and the excellent discussion, is that we must never confuse Cult with Church. Various practices, devotions, customs, all in my family, can be enhancements to the life of holiness, but not substitutes, nor even necessities. The practices of St. Teresa of Avila in her convent were and are very different than those of St. Etheldreda, or St. Hilda, or Mother Theresa in their convents or monasteries. Many nuns wore hats or bonnets and not veils for years and years, even in America. The same is true for St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a man who had very different daily routines, clothes, goods than St. Ignatius of Loyola, or St. Damien the Leper. If we make exclusions for the highest offices in the Church, that is those great saints who lived in various manners according to their state in life, their Rule, their times, should we not look upon the laity with the same eyes? Americans are not all Central Americans are not Inuits are not Australians and so forth. We live in the 21st century, women vote, work, drive, rule countries (as some did in much earlier times, bar the driving and voting). St. Olga, Equal to the Apostles, was a empress of supreme authority and power. St. Genevieve was a shepherdess. Why do we demand such conformity in externals, such as fine distinctions of dress, except for manners and respectful behavior in certain situations-to which I firmly agree? I paint and write poetry, short stories and plays. I am extremely sensitive to symbolic actions and language. I have writtn articles on the importance of Christian and Catholic symbolism, when it is real and sacred and the tragedy of the passing of Western symbolism. Yet, I think that the symbols must truly be sacred and not arbitrary. I do not address anyone in particular here, but I am musing on the larger question which is why we expect women to have certain symbols in dress and not men–even if the symbols are not universally agreed upon as to meaning and importance, and why we have not seen that the Church has actually emancipated women more than any other institution from the types of evils we see in Islam and other cults? I am concerned that the Church will become split not only by doctrinal and liturgical differences, which are very serious and lead to great evils, but by customs and attempts at conformity, which may not at all be necessary, or even “universal”. As people of the West, we have tremendous freedoms and tremendous responsibilities. To be a Western Catholic is to be one of the most fortunate persons in the world.

    An Inuit woman many years ago, when I lived in Alaska, told me that her tribe over a hundred years ago, became Catholic rather than Orthodox. I asked her why and she told me the story of how the Catholic priests allowed them to maintain their tribal dancing, which told the ancient stories of the tribes, and the Orthodox priests would not let them dance. To me, the wearing of veils, or even hats, which I do wear, fall into the same category. These are not essential to the Faith. I voted yes, not mandatory, but voluntary, as I am a person of the West and not the East.

  164. MaryRoseM says:


    Interesting comments! I do it because of the verses in 1 Corinthians 11 but also because I was touched by the Jewish tradition of wearing the talit (or talis), which is a prayer shawl. When I first saw this beautiful tradition, I was reminded of Moses as he entered the tabernacle to commune with God. Later, he veiled his face. To me, there has always been a sense of awe toward our Lord when I’ve used either a shawl privately in my home or the veil in church. For me, when I veil, I feel as though I am going into a secret place that is sacred.

    I do not think obligatory would work. Too many men and women in the Church would feel controlled over something that to me is a personal choice. Our culture no longer supports modesty and reverent behavior, but brick by brick, perhaps some women can at least cause others to examine those traits. I also would like to see an end of other people looking at a woman who is veiled and think she’s either being distracting or trying to show off her piety. I love how I’m seeing younger women veil and many do at my local TLM. As for me, I’m 48 and can barely remember my mother and grandmother wearing a veil to Mass, but I do have fond memories of it.

    I like the femininity of veils, hats, scarfs, and mantillas. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I miss those years when women wore hats more often. I always thought it added a tone of gentleness and grace to a woman’s appearance.

    Fr. Z, I asked my readers to come over and vote. I’m finding this discussion intriguing. :-)

  165. webpoppy8 says:

    Why does the head covering always have to be a 19th-century mediterranean mantilla – or whatever it is? You might as well wear an ancient Athenian helmet. What’s the idea here? Cover the hair? Cover the top of the head? Look almost like a (habited) nun while retaining enough distinction to show you’re not? Would a zaccheto do? Would a chador be too much?

    Which of the Easter bonnets in the movie Easter Parade would suffice?

  166. kah10161 says:

    I voted yes, voluntary, because it does take some time to get used to veiling when you didn’t grow up with it.

    BTW: I’m an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, and I wear my mantilla when I am in my position. I’ve even been complimented by one lady when I presented her with the Precious Blood for wearing my lace. I do feel a little self-conscious, but I get over it quickly.

  167. Jayna says:

    I voted female and yes but optional. I wear one and I think it should be encouraged, though I don’t think mandating it would do much good. How many other laws are summarily dismissed by those who disagree? Honestly, if enough women started wearing them, which they would if their priest said or wrote something about it, I think others would fall in line (unless they’re entrenched liberals and, let’s face it, they’re a dying breed).

  168. Supertradmum says:

    I am sure St. Joan of Arc wore a helmet to Mass, at least when in the field….I am sure, too, that many other female saints wore different things to Mass than we would expect, according to the time, culture, necessity, and rank of person. Empress Zita wore amazing hats and berets. I think women have a choice in these matters…or, I would hope so. And, I do not want us to lose our own identity to become something we are not, such as Middle Eastern, for example. Not all of us are from Spanish backgrounds. And, for the record, most mantillas I have seen are ugly, and more distracting than not, as they need ironing and are frequently torn. Some of my friends at the EF know this is a problem and have mentioned the problem. I apologize to those ladies who keep theirs in good condition. But, I am a hat person, and always have been, even way before the EF was allowed again. My mother still wears a hat to the OF. But, then, my grandmother on that side was a milliner, as well as a writer, and an administrator of a hospital in a large metropolitan area in the 1930s. Her mother, who died in 1918, was a editor of a Catholic magazine, under a man’s name. She wore hats, small and large, not veils. Her mother was an upper class Bohemian Jewess, so I am not sure what she wore to synagogue in the 1860s, although the styles were snoods, little lace caps on the top of amazing hairdos, or large bows. Even then, the hair was not hidden, either in Catholic or Jewish circles, at least not in the places these ladies were from…as far back as the 18th century.

  169. Jitpring says:

    Yes, mandatory, primarily on the ground of a step towards re-introducing the spirit of mortification into the Church and thus sticking a thumb in the devil’s eye.

  170. ampaxx says:

    I vote as no, but say that it should totally be voluntary for people who wish to do so.

  171. NobisQuoQue says:

    I’m female & voted yes, it should be voluntary. I would like to see more apologetics as to the use of the female head covering, since I think there is some confusion about the use of a head covering in church. It would also be nice if Catholics would not criticize women who choose to wear a hat instead of a veil — I think some Catholics think that the veil is superior to the hat and somehow women who prefer to wear a church hat are less “traditional”. May I also rant that I don’t think a woman’s head covering should look anything like a Moslem head scarf? We’re Catholics, not Moslems.

  172. elaurier says:

    I Love hats. Often rock a black fedora in the winter with a slim black skirt, black turtleneck, tights and high boots; very stylish. I just can’t do the Amish look. A straw panama in summer. Never wore veils growing up until Jackie O did….then we all wanted one, too. I don’t wear them anymore. If I go the lace route it’s usually just a little saucer shaped thing. There’s no “glory” to my very, very short hair. A hat takes care of that pesky bedhead look, too.

    My reasoning is purely love of fashion and I’m sure I’ll catch some criticism for being shallow. But…I dress well and put on my best face for my job, so why not for Mass?

  173. I grew up wearing a veil and I miss it. I bought a beautiful mantilla a few years ago and wore it to mass a few times. I felt like I was being a show-off, so I stopped it.

    I wish it were mandatory and then everyone would cover their heads, just like they always did. It reminded us that we were at Church. It reminded us that we were in a place set-apart, in the presence of God, and we weren’t to behave there like we did everywhere else.

  174. I voted yes and mandatory. Maybe it would help some of our sisters in Christ to reconsider their what they wear and dress more appropriately. So many these days fail to appreciate that modesty and reverence are much more beautiful than immodesty and irreverence. Then again most women would probably refuse to do it. As a soceity we now prefer to do want we want rather than what is right and personal freedom/ rights as unfortunately taken precedence in the mind of many over personal duty/ obligations.

    Then again I believe it is still mandatory currently due to its being an immememorial custom but the explanation too lengthy to put in a combox. However, I don’t usually remind women unless it is to encourage those who do or are unsure. There are too many other issues that outrank it in importance.

    I do find it interesting that women who do veil are often ostracized by those who don’t- sometimes even reprimanded. I think there is a deep underlying reason why this is so common and often so mean spirited. Satan himself and the spirit of worldiness does hate the tradition as it reminds them of our Lady who triumphed over the world through humility even though unknown to it. I do find it admirable when I see a woman who does wear a veil. They have already conquered the fear of what other people think and that also helps encourage me in my own life.

  175. dc5kap3e says:

    I think it is a good thing. I think that educating folks on WHY would have people think about it more. So the Pastor uses a portion of the Homily to outline the why. It can probably be tied to quite a few Gospel readings. Then those who have wanted to wear a mantilla for a while, will start covering up. Those who aren’t paying attention won’t. Those who are listening will most likely start as the message sinks in.

    By some measures, that process does become a “holier than thou” type of thing. On the other hand, the mark helps others discern things that they DO need to discern. Particularly young men discerning what vocation they are called too.

    Now how do we mark those young men for the young women. Altar Service maybe? :-)

  176. Even if it was mandatory if a woman isn’t aware of the law or doesn’t possess one or have access for some reason then as usual the law doesn’t apply. In those situations the person most likely wouldn’t be refused Communion, etc. Of course there should be major catechesis- there are a number of very sound theological reasons. Personally I find one of the best ways to be persuausion by example- some people can be upset if it is brought up- then I have never brought it up as most people that are receptive do it of their own accord usually.

  177. Agnes says:

    I voted Yes, but voluntarily. A small spattering of women veil at my parish that has both EF and OF Latin Masses as well as the run-of-the-mill English. Personally, it doesn’t matter which Mass I’m attending – at my parish, my spiritual home, I’m most comfortable praying the Mass with a veil or scarf. I see it as a kind of “lay habit” and I had my veil blessed. A simple reminder of my dignity in the pew, my active participation as a matter of the movement of my soul (rather than flapping my arms around).

    However, when I go a-visiting, if it’s not the custom, I usually don’t veil. Comfortable at “home” but elsewhere, not so much.

  178. I voted that it would be nice to go back to veiling but voluntarily. I always wear my veil because I feel naked without it. I wear my veil each and every time I am in the presence of the blessed sacrament. I’ve been wearing it for more than a year now. At first I was the only one wearing a veil at the Sunday mass I attended, but now I see more women (predominantly young women) wearing them. I have issues when older (often bitter) women try to scold the younger ladies for wearing a veil. I have been told that I need to stop moving women backwards in the church. Even my mother-in-law and my own mother look at me wearing my veil with contempt. I happen to like some of the more traditional aspects of the church such as veiling and attending masses ad orientem (I personally still prefer the English over Latin). I have also begun attending an Anglican Use mass on occasion and the vast majority of females veil there. Even the very young girls veil. I find that veiling tends to promote a more modest dress among parishioners. This might be happenstance, it might just be the same women who veil dress modestly, or it might be by veiling the women learns her true worth and therefore feels it’s more appropriate to dress modestly. It’s just an observation.

  179. Hidden One says:

    Yes and voluntary. Yes would be good, involuntary would cause a lot of entirely unnecessary problems.

  180. I voted “no strong opinion”, which is the closest to my thinking, but not a perfect fit.

    I think it is beautiful to see women wearing a chapel veil, and would like to see it more often. However, it’s not my place to say that they should wear one. I leave that to the Church, and if the Church doesn’t require it, to the individual woman to decide.

    My hangup, and what stopped me from choosing the “voluntary” answer, is the should. If women should wear head coverings, then it should be law. If it’s not law, there is no “should”.

  181. green fiddler says:

    female – yes – voluntary

    As a child, I did not realize it was a rule that girls wear head coverings at Mass. I believed it was something we did naturally out of reverence and adoration for our Lord. We always had our little Easter hats, but I do not remember wearing a mantilla or the lace doily-type covering until after my First Holy Communion. On some level, I believe my chapel veil reminded me of my First Communion veil or a bride’s veil, that it was a symbol of belonging to Jesus. Much more than a scrap of cloth, the veil had importance because of what it represented.

  182. As a post-Vatican II baby, and a woman, I would LOVE to see chapel veils become law (although I hold out no hope that they will). I grew up with the casual Mass — lots of folk songs, jeans, chatty latecomers (I was one) and other things that kind of subconsciously trigger people not to take the faith seriously. My turning point came when I wandered into a Traditional Latin Mass. I could not believe what I had been missing.

    At church now, though I’m in my 40s, I identify more with the 20-somethings than the women 10 years older than I am. Many of us who grew up with casual Masses love wearing the veil. It’s beautiful, it looks great (face it), it is not a hassle and for me it is a reminder that something sacred is going on, which is a sense I never had before.

    Here is why I would like it obligatory. If it were law, it would free us to wear the veil without being self-conscious. While many women at my church wear it, many do not, and some who do not wear it see it as affected. You have to be kind of brave to wear one. You have to worry about being looked at or judged. And it distracts you. That’s a shame and it isn’t fair. You should not have to stick your neck out just to do what Catholic women did freely and unselfconsciously for centuries.

    On one Catholic discussion forum I saw a comment that summed up this ridiculous situation. It was from a young woman, a convert, who was brimming over with love for her new Catholic faith. She dreamed of wearing a mantilla but she was too shy to. She wrote, “I wish the Church would make this law again because then I would be able to wear it.”

    Any chance, Father Z, that this could happen?

  183. MichaelJ says:

    Voted ” am male and YES. And I think it should once again be obligatory according to law” but only because there was no “It is still obligatory but the law is unenforced or ignored”

  184. GeekLady says:

    Simple justice requires me to vote “No, This Custom Should Not Return” regardless of my own personal opinion on the matter. It is not an accurate vote. I think the Church should decline to put its oar in on the matter, period.

    The options here are fundamentally ignorant of the social dynamics of women as a group. The two governing principles for understanding women are:
    1) Where men focus on rank/status/position/etc, women work under principles of inclusion and exclusion.
    2) Women have the overwhelming tendency to couch disputes in moral terms, even when they aren’t applicable. Also, our way is the right way, and your way is the wrong way, and we will defend our way till the heat death of the universe. This applies to anything from abortion (despite a clearly moral answer of No), to whether the dishes were sufficiently washed last night (which has amoral answers of Yes or No), to which route should be taken to x location (which doesn’t have a ‘right’ answer in any sense, except maybe hindsight in the case of a traffic jam).

    The responses available in this poll can’t help but divide battle lines in another pointless argument. Even the ‘voluntary’ options lend moral support to one side and can only fan the flames. A better neutral option (or at least an additional one) would be “I am [sex], and this custom should not be prohibited.”

  185. Robert_H says:


    I see some benefits from making it obligatory (gives the shy/weak an excuse to veil) but since there seems to be enough defiance to Canon law as it is (female altar servers, communion in the hand, magesterium of nuns, etc) I don’t think it would be wise to give the juveniles yet another opening.

  186. JulieC says:

    I doubt veil-wearing will ever be mandated in the future, and for that I am thankful. If it remains completely voluntary, that could go a long way towards eradicating the often repressive attitudes towards women associated with the Catholic mantilla.

    While veil-wearing is a lovely custom, younger Catholics may not realize that veils carry with them a great deal of emotional/psychological “baggage” for Catholic women of a certain age and for 40 y/o+ Catholics who have been reared in very strict traditional Catholic environments. It may seem ludicrous to veiling enthusiasts, but like it or not, to a great extent, the veil, in Middle Eastern cultures, and in Catholic culture, has become a symbol of the unfair subordination of women.

    Case in point: when the nuns discarded the habit and veil forty years ago, it wasn’t because they had all suddenly lost their minds. It’s indisputable that back in the day there were many instances where teaching and nursing sisters endured humiliating and sometimes abusive conditions. As much as most of us would revere a nun in full habit if we were ever blessed to encounter one now, they were not always treated well. I’m not a feminist, by any means, but Gloria Steinem and Sr. Mary Hip-Hop were not 100% wrong.

    There were some legitimate reasons for the feminist revolution, and as much as I hate to rain on the parade here, a word of caution is in order before everyone embraces this custom wholesale.

  187. Sue says:

    I voted yes and mandatory. I would love to go back to wearing the mantillas and veils (not the kleenexes, though), because it seems so reverent and obedient and that’s how I feel in front of the Lord. I just don’t want to draw attention to ME which, right now I would be the only one I know wearing one. If mandatory, no one sticks out. And if not mandatory, maybe the Church could at least publicly strongly recommend it.

  188. Tony from Oz says:

    I am a male (obviously) and votes ‘yes, but non-obligatory’. The practice is clearly ticked off as a venerable custom in the New Testament biblical box – and is one of the practices which serve to reinforce the appropriate roles in church between men and women (as opposed to the unfortunate recent practice of women – and laity in general including layMen – participating in the conduct of the Mass, which was completely unheard of prior to 1972, BTW!).

    However, actual obligatory enforcement of a ‘hats-on’ rule would be impossible. I think that example by way of a rediscovery of the beauty of this practice by women would have a better and more lasting effect in leading the way to a widespread revival. Incidentally, I do remember a certain lady of my parish in the days of hats who DID NOT wear a hat – and she was never put under any censure (although it was remarked upon occasionaly by other women of the parish, privately, including by my mother). The difference bewteen then and now was that you had a venerable custom plus the fact that hats were routinely worn by everyone. Hats (and gloves) went out of vogue, almost overnight: they were there in 1967 – and were gone by the end of 1968, as I recall, at least downunder here in Australia!

  189. KerryLee says:

    I am female, 26 and voted yes/voluntary.

    I think that this is an absolutely beautiful practice. The reasons that I often hear for wearing a head covering are modesty and/or reverence, both laudable goals! I, personally wish to increase my reverence for the Lord in the Eucharist so I am going to try wearing a veil when at Mass/adoration. I am getting one this Saturday. If I find that it doesn’t help increase my reverence, then I will stop. But I think that it is worth a try. I think that it is important to always try to improve our relationship with God and it is also important to revive Catholic culture. So, I will try.

    I do admit that I am a little nervous, mainly because I do not want to draw attention to myself, but I think it is worth a try for the above reasons.

    I don’t really think that it should be made mandatory, but if it was made so tomorrow I would have no problem with it.

  190. Yes, I’d like to see women wear head-coverings in church once again because this is an ancient tradition with so much meaning and reverence. The tradition was taken away from us, but we can easily bring it back, at least to an extent. And if it veiling before the Blessed Sacrament continues to increase, I’m betting it’ll be the women themselves who bring it back, not Canon law.

  191. jflare says:

    I voted yes, but voluntary.
    When I began attending Mass at my current parish, I had to adapt to several things fairly quickly. While I hadn’t been pleased with folksy music, tendency towards jeans and t-shirts, and the like, I still took a few weeks to become accustomed to seeing several things in Latin, singing some other things in older English, and seeing women in chapel veils, and whatnot. It wasn’t bad, but I hadn’t been accustomed to it til then, so I took some time to acculturate.

    I think it’d be a poor idea to try to mandate chapel veils for ladies, primarily for these reasons. Any mandate right now most likely would lead to a good deal of insisting on exemptions and people being too legalistic about the requirement; many would likely miss the heart of the idea entirely.

    Then too, in all fairness, I think it’d be great to see the Church offer stronger encouragement to men to wear suits. Or at least button shirts with ties.
    I once tried–for about one month–to be a good example for others by dressing up in a suit, tie, and a topcoat. I gave up after that month because I felt VERY out of place….

  192. bluemaydie says:

    Feminine. No.

    IIRC, Paul (in the oft-cited-above passage from Corinthians) says “IF it is a shame for a woman to cut her hair, THEN it is a shame for her not to cover it.” I’m paraphrasing, of course. But to me, that conditional speaks volumes. Our communal worship of God is not an excuse to break social norms and cause scandal. We’re not there to have our day in the sun. So women who would have caused scandal and gotten their 15 minutes of fame by uncovering their heads were told not to. But our society no longer finds short hair on a woman shameful.

    I tend to dislike exegesis that discards the rules because this or that is “cultural,” as in, not of our culture. But I think covering women’s heads, per se, is a cultural norm that doesn’t apply any more. And I think Paul’s actual prohibition is against stepping out of line (out of our place in the cosmic hierarchy) and making a big deal of ourselves. And that’s a rule that applies in all cultures.

    On a more pragmatic level, I fail to see how translucent lace, in the case of chapel veils, covers the hair. I mean, you can see right through it. Plus, chapel veils tend to be part of a whole get-up–heels, makeup, the whole nine yards. If women are to cover their glory, then it seems to me that makeup shouldn’t be worn to Mass. In other words, chapel veils don’t, in my opinion, actually address the issue of how to be humble.

  193. capchoirgirl says:

    I started wearing one about a year ago, where I joined a conservative parish that still has communion rails, and altar boys ONLY. I’m not the only one to veil at my parish, which was part of the reason I started considering it. I’ve seen eight-year old girls do it. I prefer a long black veil, as opposed to the little chapel veils, since it stays on my head better. FWIW, I’m 28 and single, so this was totally my decision. Not only does it help me focus (you can’t be whipping your head around if you’re veiled, and your peripheral vision is limited), but it reminds me that I am in a holy place, doing something unique in my day. I wear it whenever I am at Mass. I don’t tend to wear it for Vespers attended in church, however, and I don’t wear it when I’m singing in the choir because I *need* peripheral vision then.

  194. joan ellen says:

    I have covered my head with a tied in the back scarf for at least 10 years now…for Mass and every other hour of the day and night…(my young neighbor said we need to cover our heads at night in case we awake and want to pray.) I have many different colors, and dressier scarves and ones for work. I hand stitch most of my scarves with a rolled stitch. Some, both Catholic and Protestant, have tried to get me to not wear a scarf. The comment above about increased disposition is so very true. In my case, anyway. Since wearing a scarf the increase in joy and peace in my heart is such that I could never remove my scarf. Our Lord seems so near as well. Am still a sinner though which means, for me, that I sometimes don’t act so joyful nor peaceful. :(

  195. SegoLily says:

    I am in my mid 50s but cannot at all relate to my contemporaries in the Church. I have friends who embrace gay marriage, abortion, contraception, divorce, cohabitation and are all active members in the Catholic Church. One was even voted the model Catholic Woman of the Year in one parish! We should bring back mandatory head coverings–hat, chaple veil, manitilla, whatever, but along with that, there must be catechesis from the pulpit. Your 50 and 60 something typical Catholic woman doesn’t even know what it means to be Catholic. All her children have co-habitated, she has practiced birth control, and she has a gay activist grandson she is sympathetic to. She wants to be cremated and have her ashes scattered over the local botanical gardens or beach. Anything that can make people stop and stand in awe before the majesty of Christ and His Church and Her Teachings is a move in the right direction.

  196. Moonshadow says:

    As a female, I voted no, this custom should not return because too many people are unfamiliar with it. Until we can all learn to mind our own business, head coverings would be a distraction from the liturgy – the exact opposite of what they are supposed to be.

  197. BrownieGirl says:

    Hi Fr. Z
    I’m brand new to post here and I’m rather afraid my comment and question will get lost, but I’m going to post anyway.

    I voted more along the lines that it is a personal decision. Just as some enjoy the Tridentine Mass, some enjoy the Novus Ordo. Some love the Franciscan spirituality, some Dominican. The variety is one of the things that makes our Faith great. Variety has it’s limitations, of course, but head coverings are “small t” tradition, it seems.

    My question is this: I have heard it said that head coverings at one time indicated that a woman was not “loose”. Loose women let their hair be free, such as the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair. Women of virtue and modesty covered their hair.

    Today, however, wearing your hair free is not considered “loose”. Many many holy women do not hide their hair. No one thinks ” oh my, that one gets around”. Now, if she were wearing a top cut to there and a dress up to there well, then, yes many of us think “hmm… she, gosh. It seems she has little respect for herself and might she get around?”.

    So, the need for a veil, in this view, seems mute. If we cover our heads for a type of modesty that no longer exists, what is the point? Seeing a woman’s hair is not seen as immodest, so why a veil or a covering that indicates some sort of modesty that isn’t even recognized?

    I do not wear a veil. Mostly because I know my heart before God. I have gone to him with sin in my heart and no veil is going to make me more holy when I’m not right with God. I think God wants our hearts. What we do on the outside counts, as in, actions do count but I don’t see a veil as making one more or less holy. I honestly do not see any need for it, but if women want to do it, let them.

    Bonkers to the men who think it should be a law. Pinheads.:)


  198. BrownieGirl says:

    I need to add that the wearing of a veil for the sake of being holy or set apart leaves out the men. What is expected of the men in the same way? Nothing? Really? I don’t see any intelligent discussion (here OR in the Church discussions around me) on why a veil should be worn. I’m pretty without it. I’m holy without it, I am “set apart” without it. So why wear it? Where is your heart? Shouldn’t that be the most important question?

  199. MaSweet says:

    Hello Fr. Z,
    I tried to preview my post before this and I think it was lost…so I am sending it again, sorry if I wasted your time…
    I looked on Fisheaters ( http://www.fisheaters.com/theveil.html ) to find the biblical quote from St. Paul and found their information/arguement on veiling very compelling. In particular, this qoute, “We don’t veil ourselves because of some “primordial” sense of femine shame; we are covering our glory so that He may be glorified instead. We cover ourselves because we are holy — and because feminine beauty is incredibly powerful.” This is so perfectly said!!! It also mentioned, as does the bible, that we women should veil because of the Angels, who see the Face of God. They are assigned to us and so to respect our dear God who, as St. Paul says should be glorified in our prayer. As women we would humble ourselves, it is true, by the wearing of the veil. I know that I spend enough time on my hair as a woman to look good at Mass and everywhere I go. I think that I should be humbled in such a way that my hair (whether it is a disctraction to myself and to others or not) should not come before our God’s glory. I know that I would be so sad if my beautiful daughter was a distraction to any man, young or old, at Mass.

    As far as the legallity of it, I believe that I and many women would not do it unless it was required of us..and for how long would we really keep it up?

    It is always good to see what the Bible (St. Paul) says exactly;
    1 Corinthians 11:1-17:
    “Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that in all things you are mindful of me and keep my ordinances as I have delivered them to you. But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ: and the head of the woman is the man: and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered disgraceth his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered disgraceth her head: for it is all one as if she were shaven. For if a woman be not covered, let her be shorn. But if it be a shame to a woman to be shorn or made bald, let her cover her head. The man indeed ought not to cover his head: because he is the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man [c.f. Genesis 2-3]. For the man was not created for the woman: but the woman for the man. Therefore ought the woman to have a power over her head, because of the angels. But yet neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, so also is the man by the woman: but all things of God. You yourselves judge. Doth it become a woman to pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you that a man indeed, if he nourish his hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman nourish her hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor the Church of God [i.e., if anyone want to complain about this, we have no other way of doing things, this is our practice; all the churches believe the same way]. Now this I ordain: not praising you, that you come together, not for the better, but for the worse.”

    Father, I have often wondered if this meant covering our heads at home praying as well, or just before the Blessed Sacrament.
    Thank you Fr. Z!

  200. PaterAugustinus says:

    There is a deep connection between the feminine, and that which is veiled and mysterious, and even that which must be covered. In the writings of Hildegard of Bingen, for example, she describes how women really only flourish as women, when they do so within the context of the “veil of the masculine,” i.e., with men covering, protecting and surrounding them.

    In cosmic, archetypal levels, this expresses a great deal of truth about the universe and our relationship with God. God is the masculine archetype – yes, beyond gender Himself, but ultimately the masculine gender is the “shadow” of whatever the Deity is as the active, creating, fecundating force. And the creation is the archetype of the feminine – acted upon, fecund, cooperating with grace in her nature. The creation absolutely depends upon the masculine to flourish. The depth of this mystery is not yet revealed, and so the veil represents not only the covering and protecting of the masculine, but also the veiling of an ultimate mystery.

    As St. Paul says, “it has not yet appeared what we shall be,” and “the creation groans in labour pains, awaiting the revelation of the sons of God.” When that day comes, the veil will be removed. In the meantime, the veil is a powerful witness to some great and ineffable cosmic truths. Women should feel great veneration and awe at their unique *privilege* of wearing the veil on behalf of the creation, just as men should tremble in holy fear as they bare their heads in prayer (and in the company of women), giving witness to their own manhood and to the might of Him, Who is the Head over all creation.

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