The Case of the Missing Veil

One of the most consistent appeals to tradition is women wearing veils. (I have written more about it here, here and here.) For the record, I love to see women wearing veils and hats at Mass, but as a general notion, nothing says tradition as much as the veil.

But how traditional is it? I have been collecting photographs from Catholic tradition and was surprised to see that in photos prior to 1960 most of the women were not wearing veils. It seems that the period during which veils were worn was short—not more than ten years (early to late 1960s). Rather, women wore hats. Most but not all the photos were taken in the United States, but they consistently show women in hats, not veils prior to 1960.

Do we need to adjust our notion of what type of headwear is traditional for women? I love veils and think that most women today are more likely to wear a veil than a hat. Veils also link more closely to the biblical tradition. However, the photograph evidence is clear that hats predominated prior to about 1960.

The photograph above was taken in my parish in 1954; it shows hats, no veils. The video below contains photos from various places in the U.S. and Europe as well as various times, nearly all from the early 1900s to the late 1960s. I provide some commentary as well. (The video is quite lengthy (more than 12 minutes long), so I have put the pictures into a pdf document and posted it here: Find the Missing Veil.)

70 Replies to “The Case of the Missing Veil”

  1. Sigh, God bless, Msgr. everybody’s got a damn complaint, best wishes, everybody is entitled to their opinion, I’m just done.

    1. What a rude response. It’s a legitimate topic and well-written as usual. Thanks you, Msgr.

      1. Insight gain sometimes comes with a cost, I guess its been a costly day but no hard feelings and perhaps better days ahead.

    2. I`m with you here. I`m done with morally bankrupt churchmen but who still want its women to cover their heads. I mean no disrespect to the msgnr personally here but, really!

      The church has slipped far, far down the line and is up to its bereta in sin and yet we read drivel about hats and veils.

      1. Hmm… I feeling really scolded now. For the record I do not “want women to cover their heads” and I am not a “bankrupt churchman” (Saying you don’t mean it personally is gratuitous). I only said I like veils because veils and hats are pretty on women. My other articles explore the theology of it but I conclude it is NOT required and is more a matter of custom and that women are free to do as they please.

        Secondly, I think the Church (and my blog) can talk about more than one thing at a time.

        Finally, for the record, I am not up to my biretta (you spelled it wrong) in sin any more than you are up to sin in your hat. Really, shame on you (and I do mean it personally) for your unnecessary dismissiveness and ad hominem attacks on me and the “churchmen”. It isn’t necessary. Stick to the issue. Say what you mean, mean what you say but don’t say it mean.

        1. There is so much division in the Church with Tradition, how
          many souls are lost because of TRADITION, and their ripping
          apart the Church , they don’t say it with charity, the fuel
          is so hot from some clergy, high and low to drag these souls
          down with them with their SAVING THE CHURCH, so many souls
          that can become so bitter and they started out well but the
          constance this and that, everything is so poison from my
          point of view that I have not come across much virtue, most
          have been harmed for the worse because its so easy for them
          to be crude, prideful,(they speak for God over the Church
          guidelines, everything is going to be torn down, they rejoice the end is almost near with her impending destruction and her restoration by their hands, one can barely talk anything about tradition in this climate without another soul becoming embittered for the worse, its just too much poision going around and it didn’t have to be that way with the gift given but show me their virtue and how they are uniting the Church, I have only seen it under 5 times otherwise its been a disaster for the Church, to have two Masses if their is no love and unity, I was really happy for the people who wanted the EF Mass but for me I don’t see a great love and respect for the Church, I see a great love and respect for their Church, I guess I’ve just been to beaten up to recognize a harmless article with tradition involve and wonder about incoming fire, oh well each his own, I’ve always said you have a great blog and hope it can be a bridge for the good of the Church.

      2. I guess we’re all kind of jumpy these days, I’m not done with the clergy, don’t give up on them, I’ve been blessed with priests and love them dearly and unfortunately have had some unpleasant encounters, its not perfect but find one that relates to you and loves the Church and you will have found a treasure, I hope you find that treasure, I think Msgr. is a treasure and has the good of souls always forefront. God bless.

  2. Interesting commentary. Thank you for examining it.

    I remember that until I was 18 or so, hats were necessary apparel at Mass. Here is my impression of those hat days: I suspect in most cases the significance of the reason for hats as the biblical call for women to cover their heads at Mass had long been lost. We just knew that women were required to wear them, and we even kept mini-veils with Bobbi-pins tucked in our purses for when we found ourselves in situations when we had no hat available to us. We did not think to question. We just wore hats in church.

    What ended up happening, at least in North America, was that a hat had become less a head covering at Mass, and more a fashion statement. Instead of gazing at a woman’s groomed tresses, were we now gazing at their hats? Did it look good on her? Did it match her outfit? Was it stylish? Women fussed over hats for Sunday, and for many it became a kind of slavery because there was that knee-jerk fashion sense it truly did have to match / look good / be stylish. I, for one, was grateful that societal Sunday slavery ended.

    But the more serious spiritual concern was that hats as Sunday fashion led to pride and unnecessary absorption in one’s appearance.

    Veils better fulfill the meaning of a woman covering her head. They are inexpensive; they are not fashion statements. They can even act as a sort of wimple. This is not to say hats are not fine head coverings. The problem is when they become a source of pride of appearance. Of course one wishes to dress in better clothes for Sunday to honour the Lord’s Day, but it should never be a reason for pride.

    1. Veils are “inexpensive”????? Not in my experience! When our youngest daughter was confirmed at at Tridentine Confirmation in the Madison Diocese in 2013, we were told that all women had to wear a veil. Grrrrr. I hate wearing anything on my head & never do–even in the coldest winter season. But, I shopped for veils for my daughter & myself. The cheapest one I could find that fulfilled the requirement was $32.00! Multiply that by two & add S&H–on top of that, we had all the travel expenses, overnight stay & meals. We are a one-income family, so money is tight. But, we wanted our daughter confirmed before age 18! The veils were worn once & will never be worn again. No one we know wants to wear them. We attend very reverent, ad orientem, silent Masses–very faithful Catholics. But, no women want to go back to the days when we had to have something on our heads!!!

      1. Please, refrain from attempting to speak for all women, ma’am.
        I would love to go to church one day and see a room full of other women so reverent and humble that they choose to wear the veil. But, maybe I’m just too young to understand.

        And I don’t know what kind of Town and Country Magazine tier mass your church was trying to hold, but shoot, I dropped a fiver on Amazon and I got a very nice black mantilla that no one has ever said boo to me about, and I wear the thing every week.

      2. I beg to differ. Just this afternoon I made my own veil, without sewing, by simply making cut outs In the outer edges of lace fabric. It took me all of 30 minutes. BTW, my veils are attractive enough to be successfult sold at a local Catholic book and gift store.

      3. “No women want to go back to the days when we had to have something on our heads!!!” What?!!!!!! You could not be more wrong, Sue! I was convicted to start wearing a veil (not a hat … I’m not on a Paris runway, thank you!) over a decade ago while still at our liberal, Novus Ordo parish. My experience at Mass changed dramatically … my prayer life intensified … my Communions were more efficacious. More than ten years later, that continues to be true.

        I am saddened by women who have thrown away such a long-standing, beautiful tradition. You have no idea what you’re missing, or more importantly, what you’ve lost….

    2. Hats do the same “job” of covering the head as a veil. Both hats and veils can run a risk. Hats could lead to some vanity, sure, but veils can lead to comparison and pride. Who’s holiest. Yikes! My mom wore a small”pill hat” with a “birdcage veil'” Very lovely and subtle.

  3. Hi Father that was really fun to read and brought back Many memories: and you are right: upon reflection, I have no memory of any of the women in my family wearing veils: for a very brief period, as you say, in the early to mid-60’s, we wore hats with fancy veils, very sheer lace things: and only as a Fashion Statement (!) did we wear ‘veils’ which we called Mantilla’s. Scarves, triangular – or square and folded into triangles and tied under the chin, were pretty common: but for Church, for Sunday Mass….hats hats and hats. and gloves. Even I, born 1953, as a very little girl wore a hat and gloves to church. It was such fun for everyone to don their best and present themselves to God ! It was formal and yet ‘familiar’.
    I graduated from high school in 1971: I went to a Catholic girls boarding school, run by the Sisters of the Society of The Sacred Heart of Jesus: or, RSCJ. At the end of the school year, 6’69, the sisters (whom we called Mother) were still all in full-dress black habits, and looked elegant and beautiful. At the beginning of the school year 9’69, suddenly they were in a modified habit, with a bit of hair showing: a sort of blue serg dress with a hem at mid-calf. Now we called them “Sister”. When we returned to school in fall ’70, they were all in what we then called ‘street-clothes’, and it was so sad. Interestingly, not until your piece today did I even think about how unusual it was that women who never went without a veil of some kind until that year never wore anything on their heads to Mass ! After that year I do not think I ever again saw a church full of hats. *sigh*.
    Thanks for your article ! sorry this is sooo long !
    also: as hats became more and more minimal, hair-bands came into fasion, even ones made only of ‘fake’ flowers which we would make ourselves: this was on the cusp of no hats at all, and yet something was expected….

    1. Yes, it also seems clear as you point out that hats became more minimal. I think what you describe about the flower bands I have in the video and picture list, depicted at my mother’s wedding.

      1. HI, yes I did go back and I see them now: I now wear a hat every time I step out of the house: for a variety of reasons: and at Mass I feel it provides me with much appreciated ‘face privacy’ (about a 3 inch brim)- just a simple, very inexpensive hat: I cannot tell you many comments I get
        Everywhere I go as hats are so Uncommon now. I also vividly remember that Men wore hats all the time too, long ago, and how cool it was. Of course, not in church.
        Regards !

  4. Msgr. Pope:

    I left a comment over on FB – but this has been something I’ve long commented on – the ahistorical perspective of the contemporary spiritualizing of “veiling.” I mentioned it in a blog post a couple of years ago, and the only reason I bring it to your attention is that I think you might enjoy watching the old Irish video I link to on “Manners in Church.”

    1. Loved the video – quite funny really. I have seen some of these behaviours in different Masses I have assisted at – and I too am guilty of sitting in my spot in Church too.

  5. I was born in 1954 and when I was growing up we wore veils. This was in the Archdiocese of Chicago. If you forgot your chapel veil one of the sisters would bobby-pin a tissue to your head. I began veiling again about 8 years ago. I had a strong inspiration to wear one again. It took me a few weeks to work up the courage to do it. I am so glad that I did. Among other things, to me personally, it is a sign of my submission to Christ.

    1. Susan, I, too, was born in 1954 (Diocese of Pittsburgh) and had the same experience as you with veils and tissue. I went through chemo a few years ago and lost my hair. I started wearing hats and decided, after my hair grew back, to continue with head-coverings at Mass. I bought a mantilla and switch between it and my hats. In addition to the submission aspect, it adds another element of transcendence to the liturgy … the aspect of “there’s something special going on here” that the folks in shorts and jeans tend to miss. I get nothing but positive comments from fellow worshippers.

  6. Veils were always worn in the East. Hats? No. The veil symbolizes Our Lady as does the Veil of the Tabernacle. Or, as Saint Paul says, women are veiled “because of the angels.” That is to say, to cover their glory in the presence of the glorious angels.

  7. Interesting observations, Father. I love wearing the veil–it immediately stops all the distractions and there’s an intimacy with Jesus that I cannot describe. My sister, who is an excellent seamstress has made beautiful veils in different colors from cream to a soft pink and dark blue to eggplant and black, so that I can be color coordinated. Dressing for Mass is like getting ready for a date! We laugh about it but it’s true.

    I think you’ll find more draped material than hats in other cultures though. My mom always wore a sari and adjusted her palloo to cover her head. Women who wear salwar-kameez drape their chunni to cover their heads. And then there are the shawls.

  8. Born in 1960,San Antonio Texas,veiled until ’71. Reluctantly stopped, except the old church ladies. Pictures of family members in veils, all the way back to the 1920s (Texas). I long for a veil. Again, only the old church ladies wear them. No worries, I’m almost there!

  9. Thank you for this post. I wonder what the custom was in other countries at the time you are talking and before, I am thinking especially of those countries whose connection with the customs of the early Church were strong such as Italy, France, Spain, Ireland, Malta, etc.

    Thanks be to God always

  10. I was born in 1947. Hats were worn for church, yes. But grown women wore them most of the time when they went out of the house, especially in the city (I grew up in Manhattan), unless they were going to the park or something else that was very casual. Remember that men wore hats as well at this time.

    Then came 1960 and the election of John Kennedy as President. He didn’t like wearing hats and men began to drop them in imitation. Women also began to drop wearing hats as often as they had just a few years before. The bouffant hairdo really made it difficult to keep a hat on your head too. It’s at this period, say 1961-1966 that the veil was most popular. Both my mother and I had them. But the tiny circular “chapel veil” and the hankey with the bobby pin were popular. After 1966 hats pretty much had disappeared frm both everyday life and church, except as fashion statements, and they have never really returned.

    Head coverings for women have a long history, going back to the ancient world. In more recent Western history they were the sign of a married woman. Then they just became general. Now they barely exist.

  11. I find it strange that I know catholic women who come very close to mocking other catholic women for wearing a veil. They seem to snear at ‘nostalgia’ with some condescendence but are all a-gaga when they see a muslim woman in a hajib. A veil is at mass only but the hajib is public and the catholic woman gets mocked. Strange.

  12. In the NYC area, we wore hats in the winter, spring, and fall. We only wore veils in the hot, humid weather of the summertime.

  13. I hate to say it, but I don’t think that all these flowery see-through veils are quite the spirit of what it was intended by the Bible saying that women should cover their heads in church. If you look at the ancient pictures, women’s veils in Bible times were heavy and opaque, obviously intended to obscure the female shape & quality & attractivity, rather than accentuate it. In this light, hats actually make way more sense than veils. The hat says “I’m all business….” The flowery white veil says “I’m available.”

    1. My wife veils at Mass, usually brown or black lace. I guarantee that if you approached her and asked if she were “available,” you’d end up with a right cross to the kisser. From her!

  14. Back when my dad was a kid if a young lady forgot her chapel veil she had to put a napkin on her head with Bobby pins. Or at least that’s the way it was here in Southern Ontario.

  15. In the forties and fifties the weekday Mass saw the women in a babushkas, Sunday Mass the women were in hats.


  16. We came to the US in 1960 and was surprised to see most women wearing hats in church. I was used to seeing women wearing veils, unless there was a wedding. At the age of 12 I was not thrilled to attend weddings, so it was very annoying to see all the women wearing hats. It took me a couple of weeks to realize that it was normal and stop wondering whether there was a wedding just before or after Mass.

  17. I did not grow up wearing a veil, it seems the ‘requirement’ was rescinded prior to my ability to keep one on my head as a child. I have seen pictures of my mother and older sister wearing them, however.

    I can tell you I have no desire or call to veil. I have given it much thought and the more I reflect on it, the less drawn to it I feel.

    It is strange how I perceive other women who veil today. On some women it looks completely natural, yet on others it looks like a costume. I find it odd that I see that distinction because I cannot tell you why it looks right on some and not others.

    If the Church were to require veiling, I would be obedient out of love for Her and do it. But as a voluntary act, it is a devotion that I simply cannot personalize; it makes no sense to me no matter how many articles and testimonials I see. Perhaps someday the Lord will move my heart toward it, but today is not that day.

  18. Ellen:

    I graduated from Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, MO in 1968. Everything you say is true about Sacred Heart schools and the RSCJ’s. We were always required to stop and curtsy to any nun wherever we encountered her, even if hurrying down the hallway on the way to class! We curtsied every time a nun entered our classroom, etc. We even curtsied to the larger-than-life statue of Mater Admirabilis, located at the intersection of two main hallways! We were taught respect and veneration very well!

    We wore veils to Mass at school then, (yes, we called them mantillas), but I had a collection of hats and scarves and veils, which I wore to Mass in the years prior to high school.

    How sad that casual and even sloppy dress is now the norm at Sunday Mass! It breaks my heart that people can’t see how much God deserves our very best! Our Sunday best!

    1. Oh my gosh ! I just happened to return to see replies to Father: I do not remembet the curtsy: but we had to kneel on Mother Superior’s carpet so she could Be Sure that our hems touched the floor ! many memories: concurrent with this time of course, in a parellel universe, was The Sixties: and honestly we students lived a double life.
      the picture of Matre Admirabilis is what we had, no statue. I have tried to find a little picture but no luck so far.
      I am so grateful that I went to Sacred Heart schools – briefly went a college, too, run by the nuns, but which closed of course.
      Regards and God Bless you !

  19. The first photo (of a French painting) on the PDF document cannot be dated 1750, but possibly 1850.

  20. Thank you, Monsignor. I like veils (having never grown up with them). Their demise tells a story about the overall casualisation (I am not American, so no ‘z’ for me) of the Holy Mass. Together with the increasing lack of modesty in Western culture, this has meant that REVERENCE is lacking. For what it is worth, I did try it for God. I liked wearing them (and they do cost). It did not elicit a positive response from some people who insinuated that I was somehow trying to pass off as ‘holier than thou’. All I wanted to do was love the Lord and disappear, focusing only on Him, it drew very negative and unwanted attention for a teeny chapel veil. It was not worth continuing for all the negative spew (lack of charity and reverence for the traditions of the Church) it seemed to encourage and the fact that people sadly saw it as a political statement rather than an act of reverence. Oh well. Veil my heart and pray for those who did me a disservice. God bless.

    1. How sad that you dropped off wearing the veil. I wear the veil and it doesn’t bother me if I get weird looks or frowns from anyone. Matter of fact I don’t even notice it because I am caught up in prayer prior to Mass and engaged in Mass. it has been five years or more since I started this tradition and I never looked back. If you like the veil, develope a thick shin and remain in peace. Life is to short to allow such nonsense from keeping you from doing something so simple as wearing a lovely veil.

  21. My 86 year old mother inlaw remembers always wearing a veil until the 1970’s. She says if they’d forgotten their veil, in her teen years, the would even put a napkin on their heads before entering the church. She grew up in Mercedes Texas and is of Mexican heritage so maybe in Mexico it was different?

    I’m a Catholic convert of about 10 years and read about wearing a veil long before my conversion. I loved the whole idea. It is hard at times because most of the time I’m the only one wearing one, but it helps me to remember the reverence for the Real Presence and I love that it helps me remember we are in a sacred place.
    Thanks for the history lesson.

    1. I wear the veil for reverence and because it allows me to cover my face when I am deep in prayer. I am a person that will shed tears during some meditation. This is a privacy issue for me and the veil helps me to cover while I can compose myself. The stares of approval, disapproval or any other distraction never has bother me or make me uncomfortable. After five or more years, the parish people have gotten used to seeing me and it doesn’t appeared like it bothers anyone. Matter of fact, some have joined me in veiling. 45

  22. This article reinforces my belief that 1 Corinthians 14 is the most studiously ignored chapter of the Scriptures.

    1. Forgive me, ‘J’ – this is not intended as a criticism – but – in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul is writing about speaking in tongues and prophesying. So I think you must be referring to 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. This is where Paul writes about a woman covering her head – but I have to say, is much misunderstood and misconstrued, as he also goes on to say that the woman’s glory is her hair, and that beautiful and full hair is probably sufficient to cover her head in worship. I won’t bore you with a long and complex exegesis – I truly do not think it matters at all!! As Paul himself says, it’s all a matter of tradition really! Circumcision – non-circumcision?? Paul has a lot to say about that too! It’s also about tradition – and certainly not necessary for salvation!! And, all through scripture, it is made clear that God is rather more concerned with us approaching Him with ‘a pure and contrite heart’ – not ‘show-dressing’ or even ‘sacrifice’!!
      By the way, in your chapter 14, Paul says women have to ‘KEEP QUIET’ in church too – and leave the serious stuff to their husbands and the other men!! Are you happy about that?
      I really do think there is rather more to the development of our deep spiritual lives and growing in closeness to God than in worrying about the traditional covering of women’s heads when we speak to Him!
      God bless.

  23. Hi
    I also felt compiled to wear a veil a few years ago. It is interesting to read the different reasons people think they should not be worn. I do it to remind myself of the need to be humble and obedient to my God and savior Jesus Christ.

  24. I wore a mantilla in grade school (60s). In the past 5 years, I began wearing a veil again at Mass. I do it as a reminder that the rite and the place are sacred. There are so few things in our culture today that are held as sacred; it seems important to me to be mindful of the sacrifice of the Mass as being one.

  25. Thanks for an enjoyable essay! I was born in 1957 and do remember hats and veils at church. Most women wore hats and gloves in most social settings, not just at mass. I liked wearing a veil at mass—my mother had several black and white ones for us. I remember being at St. Peter’s basilica circa 1967 and my veil slipped a bit as I went to receive the Eucharist so an Italian woman rushed up and fixed it for me. The local bookstore run by the Daughters of St. Paul sell veils in all colors—pastel blue, pink, yellow—how I would have loved those! There is something to be said about setting one’s self apart in gesture, diet, clothing to mark one’s religious affiliation and practice. Now I would feel self-conscious wearing a veil : it isn’t done in my Happy-clappy parish.

  26. As a convert, almost, it’s good to see that I will still have the arguments on silly things ( Music style, pews vs. chairs,etc.) that Protestants have. I would have missed them so… (Yes it’s sarcasm)

  27. Dear Monsignor- Intentionally or not, by this post, you may have received a cogent and fundamental answer to your perhaps less broad survey. I thank with many prayers those who have commented here with their actual life memories and current actions.
    I also pray for those who are moved to the acting of reverence, but who yet are struggling with earthbound psychological impediments such as political statement considerations, how does a symbol of reverence look physically on each person, and who is available.
    I daresay that each single Catholic woman and man who present reverently are available to a faith-filled life. I daresay that they and each once-single Catholic woman and man have the same ambition: reverence to the Lord in prayer and the Liturgy. That reverence does not eschew knowledge of public events or being male or female. It is their action which indicate they are at the same time human and reverent to the divine. The irony is that those who would seek to divide the two understand not that the two are one, a strong Catholic personality who is committed to their faith and a human being at the same time. I shudder to think that a woman would be attracted to a man wearing a hat, or a young man would be attracted to a woman wearing a veil of any color. Who would have thought that is possible, given the modernist attempts to separate and even degradate the potential of goodness? Ah, they mock and despise even the attempt at purity, let alone its successful lifestyle.

  28. SO! Who’s keeping score on the comments then?
    Well – I am, actually!
    As at this moment in time, they stand as follows:
    “Are You Ready For The Lord’s Return” = 7
    “Veils And Hats” = 35 . . . . !!!!!!
    Even Msgr Charles joining in – for a change!!
    So now we ‘really’ know what is most important to most people . . . . . . .
    Veils and hats v Our Lord’s Return!!

  29. Faithful reader here. Of all the topics right now Msgr I think this was the one least necessary and the most likely to cause both hurt feelings and “haha I knew it!” Just more fodder for division. My parents are from Ecuador. I have pics. They all wore veils. I wish I had known enough to sace my mom’s veil. Veiling is a sacramental. Can’t we just leave those of us who veil alone.

  30. Born in 1956, also Arch Chicago. I never thought that a desire to see veiling meant anything but going back to head covering, because we did that with hats, primarily. We Catholic grade school girls wore uniform beanies in the lower grades, and the upper grades wore a kind of expanded headband thing. By 1965 or so, those had both been replaced with chapel veils, the round ones. On Sunday, though, it was still hats for women and girls alike. Mantillas were a fashion choice or used by the older Italian ladies.

    I think we see using veils as head coverings today because we simply can’t buy hats like we could then, and our fashions don’t allow for hats. Imagine a pleasant skirt or pair of pants, a cardigan sweater and a hat, or a turtleneck knit dress, and hat. That’s just odd. But if hat’s were again required, then perhaps some styles would come back, berets, for example.

    Make us wear veils to the exclusion of any or all head covering and you are not being faithful to history, or fair.

  31. I have been reflecting more definitely every Sunday about purchasing a veil for Mass. After receiving Holy Communion I often find that I am deeply touched both spiritually and emotionally by Christ’s presence in such a personal way, and find that I get tears in my eyes. Not wanting to distract others, I of course am very subdued, but I am quite sure that if I had a veil to cover my profile I would feel much freer to express my gratitude to Christ for His “unspeakable gift” with more depth of feeling without causing a distraction to others.

    I found Father’s study quite interesting, and I do remember my mother pinning Kleenex to the top of my head on a few occasions as the 7 kids and parents raced out the door for Mass, and I always thought it had to be an anomaly, so thank you Father, for mentioning that small point of (almost) humor.

    I wonder: if the same pics were taken in Italy and Spain during the same period if there would not have been many more veils. The Biblical mandate is for a woman to pray with her head covered, so even though a woman is “free” to do as she wants in this regard, I think it is pleasing to God to see a woman reverently praying with her head covered.

    And I agree with Father: it is “pretty”.

  32. Born in 1944. In grade school we wore beanies or tams. Hats on Sunday, like the adult women. In high school in the late 50s and early 60s we started the little circular lace thingy held in place by a Bobby pin, but still hats on Sundays. Then came JACKIE KENNEDY who was always photographed wearing a manilla coming out of church. In my experience that started the manilla fad – also bouffant hairstyles, so even a mantilla on Sunday.
    One commenter nailed it – we were used to dressing up wearing heels and little white goes to church, to shop downtown and to go to movies on a date. I remember handwashing those white gloves. That all went away with a combination of V II and the hippy era. When I sang in the choir until recently, I was astounded to see all the girls in jeans and low neckline dresses and even flipflops. Never saw any veils, manilla or the little lace circles. Interesting topic.

  33. Forgot to say that the big d own town department stores had really big hat departments and a good size glove counter on the first floor.


  35. I started wearing a veil a couple of years ago. (It was less than 10 dollars from a woman on Etsy) It goes a little past my shoulders, it’s a giant triangle of brown lace, basically my hair color. I have never observed anyone else in my parish wear one but I don’t really look. I have seen a couple of cute hats though. One of the reasons I like it is because I can make a kind of a cave with it on the sides. I get privacy and it helps me concentrate.

  36. I don’t want to go back to women HAVING to wear them but i love veiling. When i first started a few yrs ago it was kinda expensive which is why I wore scarves but i buy veils for $5 now.

  37. In the corners of the U.S. trad movement I’ve been involved with over the past forty years, a veil is almost without exception the preferred head covering for ladies and girls. I think this is explained by the fact that hats for women (and men) went out of style just about the same time that the liturgical changes were introduced in the 1960s.

  38. As a priest I have been kind of ambivalent toward it and have never preached one way the other about it. I recently had a discussion about women using veils in Church with one of the religious sisters from my religious family, who where traditional habits. Our order is orthodox minded. We both noticed more women in our church, even teenagers voluntarily wearing it. Yet, we are both ambivalent toward it. If women find it good for them okay. I do wonder sometimes it seems more of a fashion statement about “looking traditional” or reverent, especially when I see women “modelling” them in traditionally oriented magazines and teenage girls using them while wearing shorter skirts. Some I know wear them out of reverence for Christ and I respect that. I do not think the historical theology behind a necessity for veiling is not so clear in the tradition. Interestingly, I know of at least one order of religious sisters founded before Vatican II that did not wear the veil. I am interested in learning more and revising my understanding based on tradition.

  39. Growing up in the 50’s I remember my mom and her friends always wore hats to daytime events, including Mass. At my Catholic school girls were required to wear the school beanie to Mass. One First Friday, I forgot to bring my hat. Sister would not allow me to to up for Holy Communion because of my lack of head covering. One of my elderly neighbors crossed the aisle and plopped her hat on my head and sent me up to the Communion rail. I remember Miss Lottie in prayer. When it was announced women no long had to cover their heads. I stopped as all women did. I have since learned ending head covering was done in the “Spirit of Vatican II”. When the recent sexual sins were revealed recently, I was crush by the Bishops, Archbishops and CARDINALs covering up abuses for decades. I decided that wearing a veil or hat for Mass would be one of my “sackcloth an ashes” actions. So I am now wearing one now.

  40. kelleyb, you perfectly described the reason that the perception that head coverings were some kind of supernatural requirement, was done away with. It was nothing more than a lame excuse for your busybody “Sister” to try to receive communion. Her fussiness was somehow satisfied when an old lady “plopped” a hat on your head. This was all obviously just “Catholic OCD” and looking back on it with any fondness at all, is just plain silly.

  41. Head covering for me is about modesty. I don’t veil because no one else at my parish does and I don’t want it to become a distraction. However, I have thick and long blond hair and I always wear it in a bun for mass so as not to cause distraction and to be humble about it. I also dress modestly. A man is a bit disgraced when he has to show his bald head or hat hair in Texas 🤣 in mass and a women is humbled when her hair is covered or restrained. I love this post. Thanks for writing about this.

  42. Sigh, so many people, both men and women, have such hostility against women who cover their heads. While, I enjoyed your article, Monsignor Pope, it is disheartening to see the negative comments. No one is trying to force any woman to wear a veil against her will. On the other hand, however, neither should anyone fault a woman who chooses this optional devotion. Our reasons are varied and should be respected.

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