ASK FATHER: Must images be veiled from Passion Sunday or is it only an option?

From a reader…


Is there any authoritative rubric for the Extraordinary Form that requires statues and crosses be veiled in Church, or is it simply customary?

Our Extraordinary Form community is domiciled in a location that does not currently veil, and doesn’t seem inclined to do so.

In the traditional form of the Roman Rite there is a custom of covering statues, images, etc. of the Lord and saints (except for Stations of the Cross) from after Nones (of after Mass but before 1st Vespers) of 1st Passion Sunday onward. This custom continues in the Novus Ordo as well from the 5th Sunday of Lent:

In 1988 the Congregation for Divine Worship in Paschale Solemnitatis 57 said: “It is fitting that any crosses in the church be covered with a red or purple veil, unless they have already been veiled on the Saturday before the fifth Sunday of Lent.”

On traditional 1st Passion Sunday the Gospel is from John 8, when the Lord disputes with the Jews and they try to stone him. The Gospel says: “They therefore took up stones to cast at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out from the temple.”

The custom continues in the Novus Ordo.   But it is more than a custom in the Usus Antiquior.  It is necessary.

The 1962 Missale Romanum has a rubric which prescribes the veiling of images.  If memory serves, the instruction is also in the rubrics for the Breviarium Romanum and the Caerimoniale Episcoporum.

Here’s a shot of the page in the 1962 Missale Romanum (with my circling):

“Once Mass [of Saturday after the 4th Sunday of Lent] is finished, Crosses and images throughout the church are covered; which remain covered, Crosses indeed up to the adoration of the Cross on Good Friday, but images until the Gloria is intoned at the Easter Vigil.”

This isn’t “may” be covered.  It is “are” covered.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. rhhenry says:

    Seems like this would be a great opportunity for catechesis:

    OF Parishioner: Hey, Father, what’s up with the crosses and statues being covered up?

    Faithful Pastor: Well, it’s required in the EF Mass that I celebrate at our parish every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, and rather than unveil and reveil them depending on whether we’re celebrating the OF or EF, I’ve decided to leave them veiled until the Gloria is intoned at the Easter Vigil, in accordance with the desire of the Congregation for Divine Worship which in 1988 wrote in Paschale Solemnitatis section 57 that it is fitting to do this in the OF, too.

    OF Parishioner: Wow, Father, that’s really cool! I can’t believe I didn’t know this about my Catholic heritage. I am now inspired to learn Latin and serve Mass for you in the EF at the earliest opportunity, if you find me worthy. I will also pray that God call as many of our children as pleases Him to become priests and / or religious.

    Or something like that. One can dream . . .

  2. Nathan says:

    Trying to do this was interesting in my home parish where, when we had the TLM, it was only on one weeknight per week. The “novus ordinarian” (sorry, I just find the term amusing) practice was to cover the statues and images in red on Palm Sunday, which left us trying to scrounge to temporarily cover whatever we could on our one evening during Passion Week. We always managed to cover the crucifix on the altar, but I’m not sure we succeeded in meeting the requirements of the Missal….
    We ran into the same issues with trying to scrounge three altar cloths, but that’s another story.

    In Christ,

Comments are closed.