Caller asks Patrick: Should I veil at church?

In most Latin Rite churches, it’s uncommon to see a woman wear a veil in church. Some Catholics remember the days when this was the norm, but for others, it’s a totally foreign concept. Trina called The Patrick Madrid Show to ask if she and her daughters should be wearing veils, and what the bible says about the practice.

“The custom in the Latin Rite of the Church … does not require this in the way that it used to. It used to be not only a custom but also a requirement that if at all possible, women were required to wear something on their heads. It didn’t have to be a chapel veil or a mantilla, as they’re sometimes called, but they did have to have some kind of covering,” said Patrick.

woman wearing veils“So I recall as a kid back in the 60s, times when we’d get to Mass and my mom had forgotten her veil. So—I kid you not—I saw my mom and in a couple of instances, my younger sisters, put a napkin on their head. Like a paper napkin that you’d get at the donut store,” he recalled.

When did this requirement change? “Since the Second Vatican Council, that custom … fell by the wayside and it’s no longer practiced. And it’s rather unusual nowadays to see a woman wearing a veil at Mass,” explained Madrid. He likes the custom and would like to see it make a comeback, but says that his wife and daughters do not veil based on their own preferences.

It might seem odd that men remove their hats before entering church, but women were once required to cover their heads. It’s a practice that Saint Paul speaks about in scripture.

“I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head.” – 1 Corinthians 11:3-5

“It was the custom of the time. And just from a purely historical standpoint, there’s no arguing that this custom of women wearing veils on their heads during Mass goes back to the time of the Apostles,” explained Patrick. “Now it was changed, granted, at the time of the Second Vatican Council and that’s the prerogative of the Church to either permit it or not permit it, so it’s not for me to say one way or another. … But if you compare that to the longstanding history of the Church, what we see today with women not wearing veils is extremely recent.”

Veil or not, it’s up to you. In a nutshell: “The Church does not require you to do it. But if you wish to do it, you’re free to do it. I think it’s beautiful,” says Patrick.

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Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.