POLL: Covering images for Passiontide, 5th Sunday of Lent – 2023

We are now in Passiontide.

From this Sunday, traditionally called 1st Sunday of the Passion, it is customary to veil images in churches. In the Gospel in traditional Form of the Roman Rite we hear:

Tulérunt ergo lápides, ut iácerent in eum: Iesus autem abscóndit se, et exívit de templo. …

They therefore took up stones to cast at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out from the temple.

And so, on this Sunday, the Church traditionally hides the Lord and other images with veils, usually purple.

This is a fine old tradition. It has to do with deprivation of the senses and the liturgical dying of the Church in preparation for the Lord’s tomb and resurrection. We do this to sense something of the humiliation of the Lord as he enters His Passion, something of His interior suffering.

We are also being pruned during Lent. From Septuagesima onward we lose things bit by bit in the Church’s sacred liturgy until, at the Vigil, we are even deprived of light itself. The Church is liturgically dying.

We are our rites.

What did you see in your parish?   Let’s have a poll.  Anyone can vote, but only registered users can comment.  Please use the combox.  You may also send or post photos of what you saw.

At my Latin Rite church, for this 1st Passion Sunday (5th of Lent) - 2023 - I saw:

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  1. redneckpride4ever says:

    I’d wager I’ll see everything veiled today. Its an SSPX chapel I attend after all. I’ll vote after Mass.

    On a pleasant note, I went to confession yesterday at a NO church about 15 miles from my home. This parish has a reputation for leaning liberal (to be fair not nutty like Holy Family in Iverness, IL). I was pleased to see that all images were veiled properly.

    To anyone thinking “why would an SSPX guy go to a liberal leaning parish for confession?” I say this: why should I wait to make sure I have sanctifying grace? Unless the priest is a kook who will deny absolution by insisting my sins aren’t sins, why wait?


  3. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Thank you for explaining the “Jesus hid Himself” quote in relation to this custom! That is really cool!

    Sure enough, both the Latin abscondit and the Greek ekrybe (from krypto) have secondary meanings about being concealed or physically covered up, or even disguised.

    So you could picture Jesus pulling His cloak close around him or even covering His face with it, and veiling the statues really does represent a slightly different literal meaning of the text.

    I like that a lot. It is clever and nifty, and looks forward to the veil in the Temple being rent in two. And since Mary traditionally helped weave the veil and curtains for the Temple, and she is sometimes pictured as being the Holy Spirit’s loom for weaving Jesus’ incarnate body, it goes right back to the reading about “a body you have made for me.”

  4. makreitzer says:

    I attend the SSPX chapel in Linden, VA. All the statues were covered and we had catechism after Mass with a detailed explanation of all the Holy Week liturgies including Tenebrae. I learned more about the tradition of our worship in 30 minutes than I have in my long 76 years (today is my birthday). God bless the SSPX priests and their devotion to passing on the faith in its fullness. We have catechism twice a month for both adults and children. What a blessing to form parents so they can form their children.

  5. lfandrew says:

    I have a dilemma in our church every year (I am the sacristan, so one of my duties is veiling the statues & images). Our parish is blessed to have Adoration in the church continually from Thursday evening until the beginning of the Anticipated OF Sunday Mass on Saturday Evening. Thus, my choice each year is either to veil statues early, on Thursday before Mass, or after the Anticipated Mass. I always choose to veil a few days early, but question my decision each year. Does anyone have any thoughts?

  6. jflare29 says:

    redneckpride4ever, I’d say that seems to me an excellent example of prudence. I’m not ecstatic about some of the theological ideas expressed by a Jesuit college in this city. ..I still have need to seek confession there, for scheduling reasons. My regular parish is still an FSSP apostolate.
    As you might expect, our nave crucifix and sanctuary statuary had everything covered in purple. ..I didn’t think to look at the Stations of the Cross.
    lfandrew, I’m not entirely sure I understand the question–I’m not familiar with Anticipated Mass. In general, I should think it fine so long as you don’t violate any rubrics or canons that would apply. ..*sigh* It may also depend on how traditionally oriented your parish might be. You DO want to emphasize these worthy norms as much as possible, yet not at the expense of a sound working relationship with your pastor.

  7. L. says:

    Our pastor said that the veiling starts after the last Mass today.

  8. Rod Halvorsen says:



  9. Charivari Rob says:

    lfandrew, veiling a couple of days early sounds entirely reasonable to me.

    I visited a different parish this Sunday (well, Saturday evening) for a month’s mind Mass. It had been a while since I was at this church (and I was scurrying in quietly to not be late for Mass), so I didn’t take note of veils. It might be that Father veils only the periphery pieces the first week, but to be totally honest I wasn’t paying attention to statues on the way in, so I’m not sure how much there is that would take veiling. It is a beautiful old church with much to contemplate in windows, murals, and stations of the cross.

  10. JPCahill says:

    “all statues and images that could be were covered or veiled.” Indeed. And some things were covered that I didn’t think could be covered. There is a large crucifix on the wall behind the altar and father puts a smaller standing crucifix on the altar before our Mass. The small crucifix was put on the altar today and covered. I probably would’ve left it in the sacristy if it were up to me. But there’s probably a rule somewhere. In the good old days of the SCR there was always a rule. We also have ceramic holy water fonts with angels on them that were covered. Personally, I think that last may have been over-doing it. But full marks for trying.

  11. TonyO says:

    I kind of understand why our dear Fr. Z put in the last option to vote for:

    my church has no images or statues

    It completes the logical possibilities, i.e. that nothing was covered because nothing was around to be covered.

    What I don’t understand is that there is a Catholic Church in the world without one single image anywhere. Worse, (as of this writing) there were SEVEN (based on 7 votes)? This is shocking! It is positively confounding. And, I suspect, that it could only happen due to some kind of unrelentingly tyrannical effort by a series of pastors and chanceries to accomplish: it is quite difficult to quell every single one of the busy-bodies who insist they know how the church can be “better” with some image of X.

    Besides, isn’t the altar or sanctuary required to have a crucifix?

  12. Imrahil says:

    In the parish (and our FSSP apostolate does mutatis mutandis the exact same thing, but it’s easier to describe for the parish):

    All altar crosses are veiled, precisely since Passion Sunday.

    The big crucifix which is on the opposite site of the pulpit is not veiled (it never is).

    The main altar decoration with picture, statues etc. has been “veiled” in a sense, i. e., a so-called Lenten cloth (violet and depicting, in the case of the parish; our Lord as He is about to take up the cross, just having suffered the flagellation and being crowned with thorns; plus a nice little moneybag with the number 30 on it aside; just violet in the FSSP apostolate) has been hung before it.

    Other statues and images are not veiled, nor will they be.

    So that is “some statues, etc. were veiled”.

  13. Imrahil says:

    Dear lfandrew,

    I’m not saying that was entirely wrong. But for the two reasons that 1. the veiling especially does belong to Passiontide and 2. long Eucharistic adoration is pretty much a white-vestments thing, I personally would veil after the Anticipated Sunday Mass. And argue by saying “it’s unveiled because it is, while Sunday, ‘only’ Anticipated Sunday as it were, because of practical necessity, and because it’s the Mass Concluding 40h (48h?) Adoration which is a pretty festive thing.

    I mean, after all, this is an occasion where a Votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament (or was that a Votive Mass for Peace?) could be held, and would, by can. 1248 § 1, count for the Sunday obligation just as much as a Sunday Mass. Which would, frankly, be a nice solution to the difficulty; but that the sacristan does not get to decide that.

  14. Imrahil says:

    Dear lfandrew,

    that was a general comment, obviously. The solution for this year would have been easy, but obviously it’d have required the celebrant to do something: Let that evening Mass be of the Annunciation.

    It does count for the Sunday duty (unless the Annunciation itself were a holy day of obligation), and there are zillions of Catholics that would attend both in the evening and in the morning, at least for occasions festive enough such as this, but virtually no Catholic at all who is particularly eager to have a Sunday Mass on Annunciation Day evening, having obviously been to Church in the morning for the feast and now almost bored with the topic. Hence, I do not get Anticipated Sunday Masses on Annunciation Day evening, anyway, and it would have neatly solved the problem.

    (The only explanation I can remotely understand is: “Well, I know you’d rather celebrate the Annunciation, but I have only so much time to write sermons; I’m not leaving the Saturday evening Mass without a sermon; the sermon is for the Sunday; so, I am sorry, but for the Annunciation you can come in the morning to a Mass without sermon.”)

    What people, and legitimately, are interested in is getting their Sunday duty fulfilled; and sometimes they do not know that the Annunciation Mass, when in the evening, does this trick as well; and consequently. But they could be told.

  15. JonPatrick says:

    Traveling so I don’t know what my home parish is doing, but the church I attended yesterday St. Mary Broadway Providence RI (FSSP) had all statues and images covered.

  16. Charivari Rob says:

    TonyO, I’d say one or two logical possibilities were missing. My experience was “didn’t have time to go looking”

    As to “how could a church have no images?”…
    Well, I’d lean to interpreting that as “no statues” (rare, but happens) and/or “nothing that could or would be covered” (like the windows or Stations of The Cross (or murals)). In my parish, I think different pastors have gone to different degrees in at least adorning or draping in some way (I keep wanting to say bunting, but there must be a better word than that) features that are not completely covered or shrouded.
    Also, allowing for some differences between actual churches and temporary or multifunction spaces. Or, worse yet, ongoing impermanent space. My home parish was in farm town that became sprawling suburb. We had an actual medium-size church (huge for where/when built) but at least 35-40 years of at least half of our Masses (and all of the big ones) in the school gym/bingo hall/etc… – the diocese, somewhat reasonably, couldn’t/wouldn’t back our mortgage until* they got through years of backing the mortgages of parishes in smaller farm and seaside towns that were also becoming burgeoning suburbs (as the ripples of urban flight reached further) and needed to enlarge from small churches. That gym setup tended towards using purpose-built (but portable) fittings (altar, ambo, holy water fonts) without sinking to “folding tables”, but didn’t get as far as statues. Maybe the occasional banner but that was about it. There was a fairly large (but fortunately light) crucifix that was suspended from the stage light rigging above the altar. It would have a stole added sometimes, I think. Also, it would be taken down and shrouded in time for procession and veneration.
    (* eventually, diocese got back around to our turn and a large, beautiful church was built – haven’t had Mass in that gym in, oh… a dozen years)

  17. cmfzed says:

    Stations of the Cross: veiled with the rest of the statues and images or left unveiled? I have seen it both ways.

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