Baptism - must baby's head be covered?


#1

We are having our 10-month old baby baptized soon and have purchased her an ivory dress that is not specifically a Baptism gown. I have noticed that the traditional gowns come with a bonnet. Does her head have to be covered during the Sacrement? If so, we might have a problem because she cannot stand anything on her head and would likely pull it off. Thank you in advance for your replies :slight_smile:


#2

A child’s head is never covered during baptism because the sacrament involves either immersion or pouring water over the head.


#3

I have seen infants, usually little girls, wearing bonnets but as pointed out they are removed for the actual ceremony…and then put back on for pictures. :thumbsup:

I have also seen headbands and those little bows that are apparently taped on if the poor little things don’t have enough hair to hold the clip. These may or not be removed depending if they are in way.


#4

Ah. Makes sense. Thank you for your replies!


#5

Neither is there or was there (as far as I know) any requirement for the baby’s head to be covered at any other time during the baptismal rite.

I’ve never heard of any religious significance for a bonnet at baptism: probably the most “necessary” reason for one was to keep the baby’s head warm.


#6

In the Extraordinary Form:

  1. The priest puts a white linen cloth (in place of the white garment) on the head of the child (on each one), saying:
    Take this white robe and keep it spotless until you arrive at the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you may be rewarded with everlasting life.

The parentheses are in the original—not my addition.

The bonnet could be that white cloth which replaces the white garment–it doesn’t need to be, but it could be. So, yes, there is a proper place for a white bonnet in the Rite of Baptism. I’ve seen variations on this. Sometimes a simple white square, sometimes a square with cords, and sometimes an outright bonnet.

This is done AFTER the actual Baptism, so not only is it not worn during the pouring (naturally), but it shouldn’t be worn before the Baptism because of the symbolism that the old way has been left behind.

This corresponds to the presentation of the white garment in the new Rite of Baptism.


#7

So in the EF there is no provision for an actual presentation of the white garment? I ask because the only EF baptism I ever saw was my baby brother’s when I was 5 and what I remember most from that one was his reaction to the salt.

Was it practicality that led to babies being brought to the Font fully dressed in their baptismal garments? I remember how people had a real problem when we started asking them to bring the babies in regular clothes and do an actual presentation of the white garment. Then one day we asked the question “Did you put your wedding ring on before you left for the church to get married?” Of course they all said no, exchange of rings was part of the marriage rite. “The white garment is a symbol that the child has been baptized. That’s why we present and dress them after the Baptism.” In 14 years we’ve only had one family object and do their own thing.

I remember my surprise when I read the Canadian Rite of Baptism and saying to Father, “Everything here presumes Baptism by immersion!” Today we offer both methods to parents and about 25-30% opt for immersion. Father wishes it was 100%


#8

Thank you for posting that! I’d skimmed and searched on this corresponding page on rules for infant baptism in that form but didn’t catch the reference at paragraph 64 (“A white garment in the form of :l little mantle, or a small piece of white linen to be placed on the infant’s head.”), for some reason. Maybe I caught “white garment” in the list and assumed it to be the gown itself, but I had used “head” as one of my search terms and should’ve found it that way.

The bonnet could be that white cloth which replaces the white garment–it doesn’t need to be, but it could be. So, yes, there is a proper place for a white bonnet in the Rite of Baptism. I’ve seen variations on this. Sometimes a simple white square, sometimes a square with cords, and sometimes an outright bonnet.

How often, at least in your experience, has the item been provided by the church, and how often has it been provided by the parents, other family, or equivalent?


#9

The cloth on the head “is” the white garment—that is, it replaces the whole garment. That’s why I pasted the rubric.

Was it practicality that led to babies being brought to the Font fully dressed in their baptismal garments?

I suppose maybe perhaps…
Remember thought, that technically, the white gown is not the baptismal garment; exactly because it’s worn before the Baptism. In order to be a baptismal garment, it must be presented after the baptism.
I just don’t know enough about the history to be able to say that “yes, indeed, the white baptismal gown of today evolved from the original white gown of the early Church and what was done after baptism is now done before it” It does seem that way, but we can’t assume too much. It’s a good theory, but I don’t know if it’s ever been proven.
For example, people often make much about the bride’s white dress, thinking there’s some profound history or deep spiritual meaning. There’s no such thing because the history is simply a matter that brides copied the wedding dress of Queen Victoria in 1840.

I remember how people had a real problem when we started asking them to bring the babies in regular clothes and do an actual presentation of the white garment. Then one day we asked the question “Did you put your wedding ring on before you left for the church to get married?” Of course they all said no, exchange of rings was part of the marriage rite. “The white garment is a symbol that the child has been baptized. That’s why we present and dress them after the Baptism.” In 14 years we’ve only had one family object and do their own thing.

Here, we “usually” just present some kind of white cloth (could take many different forms).

I remember my surprise when I read the Canadian Rite of Baptism and saying to Father, “Everything here presumes Baptism by immersion!” Today we offer both methods to parents and about 25-30% opt for immersion. Father wishes it was 100%

That’s a personal choice.


#10

The experience of just one priest won’t prove anything, but I’ll try to answer anyway.

I’ve found that most of the baptisms I’ve done, the parents dress the baby in white, and don’t bring any other garment (we have some little bib-like garments to give the baby)

The exception is that the families from Mexico almost “always” bring a little kit to the baptism that includes a shell, a bonnet, a candle, etc. etc.


#11

Thank you for your insight! We are planning to just bring our daughter in the ivory dress - no bonnet, but we still have to meet with our Priest to make sure we have what we need. :slight_smile:


#12

That’s great.

If you have anything in white that you want to be used as the “white garment” for after the baptism, feel free to mention that to the pastor. Unless there’s something unusual (like a pastor who sees too much disparity between rich and poor parents that he says “the parish will provide all white garments from now on”) he will probably welcome you to bring whatever you like. It would have to be very rare circumstances for a priest to disallow you to bring something.


#13

Does the EF exist for everything done by the church? I have seen that term applied to the Mass only.

Are there places where they do everything according to the 1962 ritual instead of just the Mass?


#14

The EF (is a new term used by pope Benedict XVI to describe the pre-conciliar form of the Mass) Because the old form had all the necessary Rituals for 100’s of years in a different format, they are often referred to as EF Rituals when used within a group that uses the older form. I hope I made myself clear on that issue. If not please ask again. :wink:

And, yes, there are an increasing number of parishes that offer only the EF of the Mass and ALL of its Rituals. The Fraternity of St. Peter being one and the Institute of Christ the King, another.


#15

No. There are limits.

*Edit: * For example, there was no RCIA in the older rite (there was a ritual for reception of converts, but not anything near as elaborate as the current RCIA).

Obviously, it applies to the Mass. Pope Benedict specifically included Baptism in the law.

Art. 9. § 1 The pastor, having attentively examined all aspects, may also grant permission to use the earlier ritual for the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick, if the good of souls would seem to require it.
vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/motu_proprio/documents/hf_ben-xvi_motu-proprio_20070707_summorum-pontificum_en.html

I have seen that term applied to the Mass only.

Are there places where they do everything according to the 1962 ritual instead of just the Mass?

Almost. We can’t go so far as to mean literally “everything.”

The 1983 Code of Canon Law always applies, so for a wedding, the earlier wedding ritual is used, but the laws are always those of the 83 code. So a marriage that would have required a dispensation in 1960 might not need it today. The permission applies to the rituals only.


#16

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