Head covering?


Well, this is my first post on a board here, but I feel that I need some help. Around the beginning of the year, I read 1 Corinthians 11, and decided to start wearing a head covering. I started off with wearing head coverings in church. However, I still wasn’t sure what that passage meant completely, so I asked several people their opinions, including a priest. Everybody I spoke to thought that it was an interesting idea, but not required or necessary in any way. They either said that the passage had a less obvious interpretation, or that it only applied to women of that time. As I had no solid reason to do continue wearing coverings and getting stared at, I stopped. I figured that if I was getting more attention wearing one than going bareheaded, it kinda defeated the purpose.

Today that passage came up again, and I started doing some more research. Now I’m even more confused. I know that Church law used to state that women had to wear hair coverings and that it no longer is mentioned. When I read articles by different people on the issue, everybody contradicts each other and have equally valid arguments.

So that basically leads me to the point of this. What is your opinion on head covering? Only in church or all the time? What qualifies as a head covering? Or do I even wear one at all? And if I wear one all the time, how is it best to go about that (keep in mind that I am 16)?

Thanks! :smiley:


Notice that Paul is only speaking about men and women praying and prophesying. “But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered disgraceth her head” (1 Cor. 11:5a; DRV). So, if you decide to cover your head, you need only do it when you come into a Church for Mass.

Now, the larger question: should you or should you not. Now, I cannot tell you what to wear, but if you feel that you can wear the head covering/ veil as a sign of subordination to God, than do so. An outward manifestation of faith means nothing if the interior motivation is not there. Search your heart. If, to you. the head covering is a sign of the oppression of women that you have to put up with because the Church says so, then don’t. It will become a thing of bitterness. If you think you should wear it because it will make you seem more pious, don’t. If you see it as an act of subjugation to God and those he places in authority over you, then do so, but with reverence.


I have no personal opinion. I am guided by the Church, as you should be. You got your answer from many people you respect. It is certainly permitted but not required. Do what you want. If you want to interpret every NT passage as applicable exactly as written to today’s Church, do so, but be consistent. Personally given history of past threads on the topic, I suspect the motives of those who insist on reviving this discussion almost daily.


I’ve written quite a bit about this here. People write to me all the time and tell me it’s helpful. Perhaps it might be useful to you. The important thing to remember about head covering or “veiling” is the symbolism behind it. Paul explains this in detail in 1st Corinthians 11. Prior to the 1950s virtually all Christian women wore veils or hats, even in Protestant churches. The tradition carries on in the form of elaborate and decorative hats worn in some black Protestant churches. As a child I attended some Protestant churches where the adult women wore white lace veils. Prior to the 1970’s virtually all Catholic women wore veils, and the trend is still the same in Catholic masses celebrated according to the extraordinary form (old Latin Tridentine). Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox women still veil in large numbers.

It’s also important to remember that the ancient Biblical custom only requires the veiling of women inside the Church, or specifically during prayer and worship. It does not require it anywhere else. Nor does it require it in the presence of men (as is the case in Islamic veiling). Again, this all goes back to the symbolism described by Paul in 1st Corinthians 11. You can read more about that here.

Veiling used to be required of all Catholic women according to the old Code of Canon Law. However, the requirement was removed from the new Code of Canon Law. That doesn’t mean the tradition has been suspended. Such a Biblical custom could never be suspended. It just means the Church can no longer compel you to do it. I think that’s a good thing. Forcing women to veil against their will defeats the whole purpose of the symbolism described in 1st Corinthians 11. If you want veiling to be Biblical, it has to be 100% voluntary.


Welcome to the forum! :smiley:

This is how I look at it. Personally, I prefer to cover my head at Mass or adoration because Jesus is present. I don’t get all snarled up in what the Church says or doesn’t say about it. It is a personal devotional practice for me, similar to wearing a scapular, a rosary bracelet, or crucifix. It is how I express my devotion and reverence, and submission to my God. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.

As for what to cover your head with - I wear lace, but I’ve also worn hats before, especially in the winter, I have some cute velvet hats and a couple of wool berets that I wear. It’s not really what you wear, it’s why you are wearing it that is the more important consideration.

This is indeed a hot topic on this forum - just do a search and you will see countless discussions that often get very heated and sometimes locked down. Don’t get too caught up in it - just do what your heart tells you to do.

Oh - and good for you, at 16 years old, for even considering such a lovely way of showing your devotion to Christ! I think that’s awesome!! :thumbsup:



Thank you so much for your great replies! Catholicknight, I read your writings on the veil, and I’ve found it extremely helpful! Lots of great information.
Liza, what you said was wonderful too, and I now have a lot more motivation to wear a head covering! I really appreciate it!


~ Eru ~


Welcome to the forum, Eru!

I wear a veil at Mass most of the time, not because it it required (it isn’t), but because it is spiritually helpful to me.

It helps me remember my God-given role as a woman (which is different from the role of a man).

It helps me stay focused on prayer and less distracted by the commotion sometimes going on around me.

The following is an excerpt from an article written by one of the nuns of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration for a newsletter last year. She is writing about the nuns’ habit, but you can see that it pertains to lay women as well:

Scriptures reveal that clothing has a religiously symbolic function … Clothing in the scriptural context … serves to exhibit externally some inner reality of God’s work.

… with the veil we see a powerful symbol which itself means “mystery.” In Scriptures the things that were veiled were those most sacred. For example, the Holy of Holies, the most hallowed of all places for the Jews, was separated from the rest of the temple and the outside world by a huge veil … In Catholicism we carry on this symbolism by veiling our tabernacles and sacred vessels which hold the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

So the veil of a woman speaks of her mystery and intrinsic worth. She is a “garden enclosed” (Song 4:12), for within her is the mystery of life. This understanding unfolds a three-fold character common to all women: virgin, bride, and mother, whether realized physically or spiritually.

When I wear a veil, it reminds me that I am called by God to bear and nurture life (either physically or spiritually — we are all called to be mothers even if we never have children of our own), and it reminds me that I am consecrated to God for His purposes.


I wear a headcovering to Mass and Adoration. Doing so is no longer required, but can be done as a private devotion.

For those looking into wearing a veil, a user named Leonie on this forum had a great post on reasons to do so, and I copied saved them. Here they are again:

Adapted from a post by Leonie:

It’s a mortification of pride and vanity.

It is a reminder of the proper sense of reverence and piety that should occupy our minds during Mass.

It is a physical expression of submission both to Christ and to a Biblical tradition: 1 Corinthinas 11: 3-16.

It is an expression of admiration for the Virgin Mary who is seldom pictured unveiled.

It is an expression of obedience to a discerned spiritual prompting of the Holy Spirit.

It is a unity with a traditional practice of Catholic women throughout several centuries.

And here’s a short article by Sr Patricia Therese, OPB, Why Wear the Veil?


I’m so glad to read that you found them helpful. Please feel free to share these writings with other Catholic women (and men) who have questions about the veil. God bless. :slight_smile:


Even pre-Vatican II, women did not have to specifically wear “a veil.” They could cover their heads with a hat or a scarf or in the case of my mother when she forgot her uniform hat for Catholic school a tissue pinned over the top of her hair by the nun.

My personal feeling is that we should not be drawing attention to ourselves during mass if possible. If I believed wearing an old fashioned veil called too much attention to me and I wanted to cover my head, I would buy some hats or scarves. I doubt that a nice silk head scarf would cause unwanted gawking and it would serve the same purpose as a veil by completely covering one’s head and hair.

In fact, I was the only person at the funeral of our previous pastor who wore a hat, but a number of women commented to me after the mass that they liked the idea and had not thought of getting hats for church. In predominately black congregations in the US (Catholic or not) ladies wearing dressy hats for church has remained a strong tradition.


As a man, I find women who wear head covering at mass to be more, well, feminine. That is not to say that women who do not wear them are less feminine. Rather the head covering proclaims their femininity to all. I find it, somehow, attractive.

It is an optional devotion of course. But one with a very long tradition.

I recall hearing, but I do not know if it is true, that at St. Peters in Rome, women are still required to wear head coverings at Mass. Does anyone know if this is true?


Hi there and welcome to the forum!

I wish that I had your wisdom and mindfulness of scripture when I was only 16. God bless you dear!


I agree with what others here have said. I wear a head covering for Mass and Adoration, however, the decision, as a new Catholic, just swimming the Tiber this past year, was a long and difficult one. Finally, after deciding that first, it’s what I feel I need to do, it’s what at one time, the Church wanted women to do (tradition with a little t) and it’s what God wants me to do…I am comfortable in my headcovering at Mass and …well…I don’t even notice the stares if I get any.

I think everyone knows that this on-fire convert is a headcoverer :stuck_out_tongue:

As for daily head covering…you are really going to have to pray and discern about that one on your own. The Church doesn’t require it nor condone it, so…it’s up to you. For me, some days I feel the need to cover all day, so I do. You may want to just start by covering at home, during personal prayer time and go from there.

Cute bandanas look hippie, I’ve made myself some kerchief like Devorah sells on her website…I have about 6 or 7 See here, they are real easy to make… Even wide headbands work for me.

Endless options and only you have to know that you are covering for the Lord.

God bless, Dana


Thank you so much everyone for your great feedback! I feel very much inspired, and although I’m going to pray about it a bit more, I think I’ll probably end up with a head covering when I go to mass on Sunday! Everyone is so great! :smiley:



Thanks for the links! I have wanted to cover my head, but I don’t want to draw a lot of attention. As much as I adore the beautiful manilla scarves that Devorah has (what girl doesn’t love beads and lace?), I don’t know that I could wear one. I would feel like I was trying to draw attention…even if that is certainly not my intent.

But your headscarves are a great way to cover my head; now it will only be obvious to the Lord and me. :slight_smile: Excellent idea!

We do have several women who use lovely lace scarves/veils in our church. And they are truly lovely and the picture of femininity.

By the way, thank you, Catholic Knight, for your article. Excellent. :thumbsup:

Peace to all.


Welcome to the forum!

I read what Dr. Alice von Hildebrand wrote, and that secured my wearing the headcovering. Pray about it.


I didn’t know what Dr. Alice von Hildebrand wrote, so I looked it up. Here is what I found:

Prior to Vatican II, women entering church wore a veil, whereas men took off their hats. Feminists interpreted this as a clear sign of discrimination. Now women go bare-headed like men. By allowing this change, according to the feminists, the Church is “slowly” trying to correct her ill-treatment of the female sex. But once again, a profound symbolism has been eliminated. Not only are we now disregarding a recommendation of Saint Paul, but we no longer understand its deep meaning. Because Mary, the Woman par excellence, was privileged to carry the Savior of the world in her sacred womb, and sacredness calls for veiling, women wearing a veil were reminded that their bodies have the very same structure as the one of the Theotokos. Mary has given life to the Savior; women are also “mothers of life” and this implies a unique closeness between them and the One who is the Life of the world. To be veiled indicated clearly the sacredness of the female body, and once again, this sublime message has been lost.



replying to two posts.

  1. St Peter’s does not require head coverings.

  2. Pre Vatican II all that was required was some sort of head covering, not a veil. In fact in my church I hardly ever saw a veil, only hats. For mass we school kids had beanies…sort of like Brownie beanies. We also wore large headbands or bows and in a pinch a kleenex. Some women wore small round chapel veils but not the long mantillas that are spoken about on these boards. In fact, just this week we viewed a 1950’s film about Mass and the women all wore hats of all shapes and sizes but mostly smaller type pillbox hats or what were called Juliette caps.


Yes! And she also wrote this on the subject:

"Women are definitely more mysterious than men, not only because their affective life is more complex and more refined, but especially because there is something in women that calls for veiling. It is not by accident that women traditionally wore a veil, and that, up to Vatican II, they wore veils in Catholic churches. This custom was deeply symbolic, and alas this symbolism is now lost. Under the influence of feminism, many Catholics were led to believe that veiling indicated some sort of inferiority, and for this reason it was abolished.

This interpretation rests on a misunderstanding. Far from indicating inferiority, the veil points to sacredness. While we do cover what is ugly or decaying, we also veil what is sacred, mysterious, and sublime. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he covered his face to hide the glow that was apparent because God had deigned to speak with him: Moses’ body reflected the depth and mystery of his experience.

Every woman carries within herself a secret most sacred, mysterious, and sublime. This secret is life. Eve means “the mother of the living.” In the mystery of the female body, human life finds its beginning: not in the male semen but in the fecundated egg, hidden in the cavern of the female body. There God creates a new soul which is exclusively his work, and in which neither father nor mother has a part. This creation takes place when the male seed fecundates the female egg. Thus at that very moment a closeness exists between divine action and the female body which marks the latter as sacred ground. This is why the way a woman dresses, the way she sits, walks, laughs, should always be marked by a note of holy reserve. A woman conscious of her unmerited privilege will necessarily adopt a bodily posture- what is today called body language- which adequately reflects this calling."

And this:

“And this is why the female body should be veiled because everything which is sacred calls for veiling. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he veiled his face. Why did he veil his face? Because he had spoken to God and at that very moment there was a sacredness that called for veiling. Now the stupid feminists after Vatican II suddenly ‘discovered’ that when women go to Church veiled, it is a sign of their inferiority. The man takes off his hat and the woman puts on a veil. My goodness, how they have lost the sense of the supernatural. Veiling indicates sacredness and it is a special privilege of the woman that she enters church veiled.”


Veils were worn very often in other places around the world, instead of hats.

There is something special about a veil that a hat just cannot symbolize as well.

In Scripture, what is veiled? The Ark of the Covenant was veiled at the command of God. The Table that the Ark sat on was veiled at the command of God. Everything, the chalices, the bowls, the utensils, the Holy of Holies, the door, even the entire tent, everything that was sacred to God was veiled. To God what is sacred is veiled out of respect for the sacred. According to the thought of Alice von Hildebrand, women are very sacred and it is their priviledge ot be veiled. The ark was not covered with a hat… it was “veiled”. I think, and this might just be me personally, that the veil better symbolizes the sacredness of the woman then does a hat. That is just me though. It is a reason I wear the veil instead of the hat.


Like the previous poster said, it is not required.

I have made a pilgrimage to the Vatican recently, and I have worn my veil both times I made the pilgrimage. It actually is rather out of the ordinary… well, I guess not so out of the ordinary, but it is not common. It is certainly not required. Both times I did see another woman (or maybe two) who wore veils. Both of these times I either saw them in the adoration “chapel” in St. Peter’s or coming out of it. lol. And this is in the space of a year, so it must not be very, very rare to see a woman veiled there. I do believe some tourists took my picture both times. :blush: :nope: :rolleyes: , so that will give you the idea that it not required and certainly not a usual.

Actually when I wore the veil throughout Italy I was always asked where I was from by priests that I spoke with in the churches or by some women. The mantilla form of the veil is not common in Italy at all.

Another thing about the Vatican and the usual-ness of veiling: there is a tour guide ( orbiscatholicus.blogspot.com/ ) who has a blog and he lives in Rome. He gets a lot of pictures of women veiled in Rome and even numerous in the Vatican. He always posts. That of course is not what he blogs about. It is just one of the things I often see on the blog. He gets a lot of awesome pictures of religious in the Vatican and he gets pictures of other very cool events happening in the Vatican and in Rome.

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