Concerning head veils and contexts

In Islamic Saudi Arabia…


In the audience with the Holy Father…

Melania_Ivanka_Pope Francis

So, in the Arab Muslim country where women have to cover their heads, nothing.

In Rome, where it is the custom of women to cover their heads for audiences with the Vicar of Christ, veils.


Also, I noticed that Melania Trump asked the Pope to bless her own Rosary, before they were given Rosaries by the Pope.

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  1. Interesting that her spokeswoman confirmed she is a practicing Roman Catholic …

  2. Jacob says:

    I have an internet acquaintance who posted on Facebook that she was upset that the Trump women had not foregone veils and hats and scarves in both Saudi Arabia and the Vatican. One comment in reply mentioned that it is not required by law that foreign women wear head coverings.

  3. pelerin says:

    Sofia DeCesare – So that’s where the Daily Mail got the information. How do we now explain to non-Catholics how she can be a ‘practising Catholic’ as stated by the Mail and yet married to someone who has been divorced?

  4. GordonB says:

    Melania has admitted that she is a Catholic!!!

  5. WVC says:

    Wait, a Catholic involved in a divorce and remarriage situation?! Aren’t these EXACTLY the type of folks that Pope Francis wants to shower with mercy and love and outreach and hugs and more mercy and welcoming and forgiveness and Holy Communion and mercy? One would think this was right up the Holy Father’s alley!

    That being the case, I wonder why he looked so glum in all the pictures.

  6. mamajen says:


    We have no idea when she became a Catholic. We also have no idea of the current nature of her relationship with President Trump. We could try to educate non-Catholics about the richness of the Catholic faith and the options available to those in complicated situations. In my opinion, we are the most inclusive religion, albeit not in the sense that the liberals mean it.

    Personally, I was very moved and comforted by the images from Rome/The Vatican and Melania’s apparent devotion to Mary. I feel like I have a line, through Mary, directly into the White House.

  7. tzabiega says:

    Pretty simple, just like in a marriage. You tell your wife to do something or you ask your wife politely to do something: the response will be much different. In Saudi Arabia women are told to wear veils, so the strong Trump ladies said no. In the Vatican, it is a matter of politeness and not forced on them and therefore the Trump ladies obliged.

  8. MaryW says:

    Just curious: I understand that when Trump married his first wife, Ivana, it was her second marriage. Now, if both were baptized Christians at the time what is the validity of the marriage according to the RC Church.

    [We don’t have enough details of their private lives, so it is not a good idea to speculate.]

  9. Giuseppe says:

    Mrs. Trump seemed to glow in the presence of the Pope. She seemed truly moved. And Slovenia is a predominantly Roman Catholic country.

  10. Joy65 says:

    I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO glad that Melania and Ivanka did what they did (not covering and covering their heads) in both places. Although I would have preferred Ivanka’s veil to actually be a veil like Melania wore but at least she did wear a head covering. I did not know about Melania being Catholic. Yes a lot of questions if she is Catholic, about her and Presidents Trump’s marriage but I leave that all up to them and God. I pray for them and for our country and our world. Hopefully some good positive discussion came out of our Presidents meeting with the Holy Father.

  11. hwriggles4 says:

    One thing that the mainstream media is looking for is for anything to discredit the Trump administration. I do watch Fox News, and I had no idea that Melania is fluent in Italian and speaks four other languages. Ainsley Earnhardt mentioned that this morning, along with Melania visiting a children’s hospital. Would Rachel Maddow, Chris Mathews, or Katie Couric bring that up?

    About the veils, they were showing respect and their outfits were modest. In contrast, there’s a funny story about St. John XXIII that was told by Dr. Italy when a dignitaries’ wife showed up at a dinner (circa 1960) in a revealing dress. When the fruit plate was passed around, he handed her the Apple, made eye contact, and said, “it was when Eve had the apple she realized that she was naked.”

    Both of these ladies are fairly bright, and the mainstream media looks down on them thinking Melania and Ivanka are airheads because they both used to model (Ivanka was a teen model in her younger days). I knew a girl in college who modeled and did commercials – she’s now a dentist. Ivanka is also an involved mother of three, and it’s nice to know that Melania enjoys being around children showing “spiritual motherhood.”

  12. I don’t see the television &c, but someone pointed out that in Saudi Arabia the two ladies were received by the head of state i.e. their presence was exclusively political in its context while in Rome at the Vatican they were received by the Pope, both Pontiff and head of state, in which context the observance of the custom was a matter of etiquette and not of politics. That may be a salve to the feelings of any offended Saudis, maybe.

  13. Simon_GNR says:

    I’m hoping it was a calculated insult to the Saudi leaders, not to cover their heads when meeting them, but to do so when meeting the Pope. Were not nearly all of the 9/11 terrorists subjects of the Saudi king?

  14. Chiara says:

    I think Melania and Ivanka represented us beautifully, in demeanor and appearance. In fact, I think Donald was uncharacteristically humble and diplomatic in the presence of the Holy Father and the Papal staff. Well done, all around!

    Whether Melania is or is not a Catholic, she was certainly well-prepared, charming, and properly respectful in the presence of Pope Francis. She and Ivanka were dressed flawlessly. So much for all the sour grapes from the fashion designers who refused to “dress” her for the inauguration. She does not need them. She seemed to be delighted to meet Pope Francis, and right at home in the loving Catholic atmosphere of the Vatican. He seemed likewise very happy to meet her.

    On the Aleteia website, for anyone who is interested, there is a very interesting, touching story about the rest of Melania’s morning in Rome, which she spent at the Bambino Gesu hospital with poor sick children –

    One little girl, who had a white cotton bandage wrapped around her hand, told Melania (who speaks fluent Italian) that her hand hurt. So Melania smiled and said maybe she could do something to make it feel better. She drew a heart on the bandage, and the little girl loved it. The rest of the kids wanted her to do the same for them, and she obliged. She seems to have a nice touch with children, and she obviously enjoyed her time with them.

    She also visited the chapel of the hospital, and spent some quiet private time in prayer. Afterward, she laid a bouquet of flowers at the feet of a statue of Our Lady of Grace, and blessed herself.

    We have a lovely, elegant, First Lady who seems to be able to conduct herself with dignity in every situation her position has placed her while representing the USA. We, and Donald, are very lucky.

  15. Giuseppe says:

    Thanks for sharing those anecdotes. Mrs. Trump also sounds like she is a fantastic mother to her son Barron.

  16. KateD says:

    I read that she just came out as a Catholic…..!!!!

    Reading about her trip to the children’s hospital was really touching.

    Regarding their attire, why were they wearing black? Is that a standard formal color for meeting the Pope?

  17. un-ionized says:

    KateD, Yes, women meeting the Pope are expected to wear black dresses, rather formal looking, and a veil or tasteful hat (think Jackie Kennedy type hat). It was remarked on in the press when the Queen of England met the Pope wearing a lilac dress or something like that. I suppose attire fit for a funeral Mass would be appropriate.

  18. Kukla65th says:

    This scene seemed simple to explain in my view. If Melania is Catholic, she may have personally felt the desire to veil, etc. in Saudi Arabia, veiling is enjoined by law, which happens to be coterminously civil and Wahhabi, and thus religious and not if her faith. So not veiling there made perfect sense to me. In Ivanka’s case, my feeling was that her decision to veil, notably in something a bit more fashion-driven I thought in that it wasn’t a veil associated with the sort really employed traditionally, did so because she did not wish to create a division publically even though she’s no longer Christian. At the same time Ivanka may still hold a kind of reverence for Christian figures because of her past before being Jewish. Her mother is Czech and likely came from a Catholic background though many Czechs for decades have been non-religious in the wake of the Soviet era affecting their culture. Who knows.

  19. Filipino Catholic says:

    There is also the old custom of “privilege du blanc”, wherein no woman is permitted to wear specifically white during an audience with the pope, with a handful of exceptions. Tony Blair’s wife once caused some consternation when she showed up to meet the reigning pope (our current Pope Emeritus, bless him) in white, despite not being eligible for the privilege du blanc.

  20. Akita says:

    Ivanka only thinks she is Jewish. She is a baptized Christian. You cannot erase or iradicate that.

  21. Akita says:

    Pray for Ivanka that she baptize her children into the one, true faith and that Mr Kushner follows suit.

  22. Akita says:

    Pray that the POTUS becomes Catholic and that he and Melania live as brother and sister. Why not shoot big?

  23. Nan says:

    Slovenia has been Catholic since the time of Cyril and Methodius. It is the homeland of the first Bishop of Marquette, Frederic Baraga, whose cause for Canonization is open.

    Churches were open under communism. I think emigration in the early 20th century did more to close churches than communism did. My cousin is a priest there, in the county from which my family emigrated.

    Melania would’ve learned Serbian in school, along with the Slovene spoken at home. Slovenia borders Italy and Austria, so people learn Italian and German. Most people her age would’ve learned English.

  24. Nan says:

    That privilege belongs only to certain European Catholic monarchs.

    Being Catholic would explain Melania’s veil. It’s no different than what women wear to Mass although many who visit the pope end up in veils big enough to double as tablecloths.

  25. Nan says:

    Ivanka may have been told she had to veil if she wanted to go to the Vatican. I view the overdone veils as being a result of ignorance or overkill. Hers said Goth wedding veil to me. I saw a series of Papal visit photos featuring women in varying degrees of veil. Many seemed overdone and that was usually non Catholics.

  26. Filipino Catholic says:

    Nan I fear I may have been unclear in the wording. The *exceptions* to the no-white rule are those who are eligible for privilege du blanc. The ladies in this case are adhering to the general rule, since they are neither eligible for said privilege nor have they received the dispensation that gives it to them.

    Does anyone else think Francis was looking a little miffed because they stuck by the traditional dress code? I have heard that he is less uptight about such sartorial matters than his predecessor (q.v. HRM Elizabeth II in lilac instead of black).

  27. Maltese says:

    I taught my friend how to baptize his Jewish three year-old daughter before she went into surgery, at his request.

    I understand the form, intent, and water necessary. His wife is Jewish, but he is a nominal Christian. Now that little girl is running around in Temple school, not knowing that she is actually a Christian!

  28. Simon_GNR says:

    un-ionized: “Queen of England”

    No-one has held that title since Queen Anne in 1707. Between then and 1800 the title was “King/Queen of Great Britain” and since 1801 it has been “King/Queen of the United Kingdom”.

  29. KateD says:

    Thank you for the responses regarding the wearing of black. I still wonder why, though, beyond tradition.

    Nan, I had assumed that Melania would be Russian Orthodox, but her veil definitely gave away that she’s Catholic, because you can see her hair through it.

    Nice to have a Catholic First Lady.

  30. KateD says:

    See, they don’t have “white privledge”

  31. Nan says:

    Kate, why Russian Orthodox? Because she’s Slavic? Because you don’t know the full array of Orthodox churches? Am pushing soapboxes behind me…

  32. AnnTherese says:

    “Per Vatican protocol, women who have an audience with the Pope are required to wear long sleeves, formal black clothing, and a veil to cover the head,” Stephanie Grisham, spokesperson for the First Lady. Exceptions would include royalty.

  33. KateD says:


    Yes and yes.

    Instructing the ignorant is a work of mercy. If it helps, don’t be shy! Jump up on those soap boxes :)

  34. Nan says:

    Kate, the soap boxes would take me way off topic, so they’re best left back there. Slavic countries vary in church, in part due to who evangelized the area, but also for historic political reasons.

    Yugoslavia was a mixed bag, with Slovenia and Croatia having been part of the Catholic Austro-Hungarian empire, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia Orthodox and Bosnia Muslim.

    I’m Byzantine-Ruthenian due to the Union of Uzhorod, which brought Orthodox people into communion with Rome after the area became part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Ethnic Rusyn.

    I’m also Slovenian. Like any Slav, stubborn and opinionated.

    My canonical parish is near the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and the Ukrainian Catholic church, all of which were founded by immigrants from the same place and use the same liturgy.

    I’m from babushkaville but wear a mantilla.

  35. Nan says:

    Yes, but I thought it helpful to let people know the type of ladies who might have privilege du blanc although I can’t remember where I found the list of which European royals have it.

  36. KateD says:


    The area is steeped in so much rich tradition and history, that it seems one could take several college level seminars on the topic and still of have scratched the surface. It’s certainly not something one can easily brush up on through an Internet search, the history is much too intricate. It is nice to get a native perspective.

    I’m not familiar with Ruthinian, but we did attend a Byzantine Catholic Church. It is beautiful! We wore mantillas, but were told it was not the ‘norm’ in Byzantine Catholic Churches, that it was a distinction between Orthodox who wear head covers (babushkas?) and Byzantine who do not. Is that true?

    A friend who is Russian and Orthodox took me to a monastery that had several churches on the property…or altars? For the different Orthodox Churches, Russian, Greek, etc. Ahead of time she mentioned we’d have to cover our hair and wear a long skirts. Since I was traveling, I had them with me and indicated it was covered. When we arrived, she said the head cover could not be transparent like my mantilla, the skirt was fine, but I needed to cover my feet and legs…The monastery had several large plastic storage boxes with loaners….So sporting a socks with sandals look, (in southern Arizona in the heat of Summer!) and after having passed inspection from a stern woman at the front gate to ensure there were no loose wisps of hair, in we went. It really reminded me of our Byzantine Church, with the icons, incense, even the mom sitting in the vestibule with babies…she looked like every other Catholic Homeschool mom I know…..tired! Lol

    This is why I thought the First Lady was Catholic, rather than Orthodox….you could see through the head cover.

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