Wearing of Veil Inside the Church....

What is the present position of the Church as regards to wearing by women of veil inside the church or when they attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

1 Corinthians 11

1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
On Covering the Head in Worship

2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man,[a] and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.
7 A man ought not to cover his head,** since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own[c] head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.**


I believe that the Church doesn’t mandate women to wear chapel veils while in church.

However it is a traditional pious custom we see being practiced by many women whenever we attend Mass or visit churches for prayer.

Whenever a woman was in audience with the Pope she would by custom have to wear a black chapel veil (mantilla) unless she was a Catholic monarch in which case she would wear white.


Women are not required to wear veils (i.e. cover their heads). It is an optional private devotion.

Thanks for the response brother… This brings me to another question — What is the document that says it is an optional.

I really have no idea on the Church document except for the Bible verse which says women should wear veils when praying.

Thank you also for that info…Just wanted to be sure on this because the way i see it or IMOH, St. Paul is somehow very strict on this.

There is no document that says that it is required, therefore no document saying it is optional is needed.

As with all of the Bible, we must look to Holy Mother Church to interpret it. In the early church, headcovering for women was the custom - probably in no small part due to the culture in the mideast at the time. This discipline was codified in the 1917 code of Canon Law, which said that a headcover was required (though not necessarily a veil if I recall correctly). When the 1983 Code of Canon Law was implemented, this discipline was removed (as a discipline, not a dogma, this is permitted) so headcovers were no longer required.

If you are able to use the search function there have been a number of threads on this topic with some very good historical information.

Trying to attach the letter from Cardinal Burke.

trying to upload a file from Cardinal Burke

Good find.:thumbsup:

This is to inform that this Christian veil tradition finds its root in the Holy Writ and derives its authority from it. This Catholic tradition of wearing veil persisted even until the 1960s, in the form of the custom of women wearing head coverings in churches, and even exists to this day, i believe, in many Eastern-rite Catholic communities.

Let’s see what the Church Fathers have this to say on the Church’s tradition on wearing veil:

St. John Chrysostom claims that verse 6 – “if a woman be not covered, let her be shorn” – is “a severe reprimand,” being equivalent to “if thou cast away the covering appointed by the law of God, cast away likewise that appointed by nature.”

I Corinthians 11:14. 9. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on First Corinthians. 10. Ibid

St. Ambrose declared that casting off the veil is an act of lust and immodesty:
St. Ambrose, Concerning Virgins, Book III on newadvent.org/fathers/34073.htm.

St. Augustine also mentioned the veil in a letter he wrote to his brother priest, Possidius;

“Those who are of the world think how they are to please their wives, if they are men, or their husbands, if they are women, [and choose their dress accordingly]; except that women, whom the Apostle orders to cover [velare, to veil] their heads, ought not to uncover their hair, even if they are married.”

St. Thomas Aquinas commenting on the comment of St. Augustine on his letter to Possidus:

“In this case [of the veil], however, they may be excused [for not wearing it] from sin, if they do not do it from a certain vanity, but because of some contrary custom. Such a custom, however, is not praiseworthy.”

  1. See section 3.3.
  2. “In quo tamen casu possent aliquae a peccato excusari, quando hoc non fieret ex aliqua vanitate, sed propter contrariam consuetudinem; quamvis talis consuetudo non sit laudabilis.” St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae

When the 1983 Code of Canon Law was implemented, did it say that wearing veil is abrogated already?

From the 1983 Code of Canon Law

Can. 6 §1. When this Code takes force, the following are abrogated:

1/ the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917;

2/ other universal or particular laws contrary to the prescripts of this Code unless other provision is expressly made for particular laws;

3/ any universal or particular penal laws whatsoever issued by the Apostolic See unless they are contained in this Code;

4/ other universal disciplinary laws regarding matter which this Code completely reorders.

§2. Insofar as they repeat former law, the canons of this Code must be assessed also in accord with canonical tradition.

The subject of women covering their head is not coverd in the 1983 Code, therefore the Church no longer sees this as a “requirement”.
That said, it is still perfectly acceptable for a woman to cover her head if she feels so called, but no one else has the right to make that determination but the woman in question.

Oks tnx for the info…

Shall we say then that this veil tradition which was taught by the Apostles and was predicated by the Church Fathers was abrogated altogether. Was there any reason given provided why the sudden abrogation?

The only thing that was abbrogated was the “requirement”.
Veiling (or covering, most women in the US did not wear “veils”, they wore hats),is a “discipline” and the Chruch has every authority to say they are no longer going to require that the discipline is followed.

Again, no one is saying that women cannot cover if they so choose, what is being said that it is now a “choice”.

I am not sure I understand your issue with this. :shrug:

As was already said, it is not the custom, but the requirement that was abrogated. I can’t give you any quotes, but I’ve heard that one if the reasons theologians argue that it’s fitting that it not be required is because so many people misunderstand the meaning of it and see it as a sign of women being inferior to men. However, I have also heard the arguement that it is precisely because society today has an incorrect view about women that the tradition of women veiling themselves is very appropriate so that it can become a sign of the correct understanding of women which it actually represents. Namely, that women are neither inferior to men or the same as them in every respect, rather they are equal in dignity, though different psychologically and so it is fitting to have them generally be treat/act in a different way then men, just not in any way Which reduces their dignity.

I hope that’s helpful.

Some points that we are going back and forth on.

  1. Canon Law. This I think is very clear. We can all agree it’s not required in the New Code.

  2. Scripture. The New Code can’t take out St. Paul’s injunction! That will always be there, and it’s pretty clear.

  3. Tradition. Of course the practice of women veiling when in the Church is centuries old and pretty much 100% in the Latin Church until a few decades ago. Also extremely consistent in many Eastern churches but not all.

  4. “You can’t tell a woman what to do in regards to veiling.” Yes I can! Well, not you. But I do ask my wife to veil, and though I don’t force her (she’s an adult, I couldn’t if I wanted to), as spiritual head of the household I think I have the right to encourage her, and please God she is happy to do it and prefers the practice herself. I will also ask my daughter to veil, but not for a while (she’s just a baby :slight_smile: ).

Others in authority can tell women to veil too. A pastor can strongly encourage it and suggest it (he can’t bind under since it’s not in Canon Law). In some traditional chapels (even those that are canonically regular) it’s required as part of the dress code – I think given the tadition this is well within a pastor’s rights. And of course Canon Law in this regards could change.

  1. Final point. There are probably many good reasons for women to consider not veiling (personal reasons, comfort, not wanting to stand out, etc). But I do think, not as a man giving advice to women but as a Catholic talking about morality, not veiling specifically out of reasons of feminism, blurring the distinction between the sexes, rebellion, “sticking it to the traditions of the Church,” - these are probably very bad reasons.

BTW I hope I don’t come across as harsh – I would be much harsher to a man who wore a hat in Church (unless it’s a zuchetto, a mitre, or a biretta).

Just a response to your final point. Since a woman is not required to veil, she does not have to justify her not veiling or give any reason for not doing so to anyone. There is no issue of morality or lack of, here.

I agree, with exceptions. She would have to justify it to her parents if she’s a minor, or to her husband, or to her pastor if it was the dress code.

Doesn’t have to justify it to any of us, of course!

Now please don’t hate on me because I said justify to her husband … justify doesn’t mean slavishly and unthinkingly obey, but justify – explain why if it’s a good reason. A traditional husband who takes the faith seriously and takes his spiritual headship seriously would probably want to know and should, as Christ served His Church with love, lovingly accept her reasonable explanation.

But yes you are right, women don’t have to justify this decision, I just wanted to mention that if we do anything, even something good or something allowed, for bad reasons, we should re-examine. Veiling is just one example of that principle.

That would only apply to traditional families where the women are required to veil although I am not sure how it works in practice. For the most, I would think veiling/not veiling is even an issue thought about.

I agree that intent is important, however when veiling/non veiling is a neutral issue and not a rule, it is more about choice.

Just to make the point clear. Seeing the whole of what we’re discussing, i would be of the opinon that abrogating the requirement of wearing veil by women is actually abrogating the teaching of the Aposlte Paul on the wearing of veil by the women during prayer,

That;s why im looking for the reason or reasons why the abrogation the since this is matter of importance during the Apostles time. as predicated by the Church Fathers.

No, she does not. It is not a requirement, and therefore no justification is necessary. The wife does not have to justify herself to her husband or to her pastor. It would be the courteous thing to do, but even something like “I do not feel that that is the next step in my spiritual development” is sufficient enough, and basically simply a recognition of the nature of veiling as a personal devotion anyway.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.