Were Genders Segregated at Mass pre-VII?


All of this ancient history is not relevant to anyone alive today. How other churches did/do things, including the Eastern Orthodox, is not relevant to Roman Catholics.



Of course, ancient history is relevant to those of us alive today. You stated that Catholics did not sit segregated by sex prior to Vatican II. The OP asked about whether Catholics sat separated by sex at any point in Church history. I assumed the question was meant to include those centuries of the Church going back before living memory.

As to the Orthodox - in many cases, our Orthodox brothers and sisters have retained practices once embraced by the undivided Church. If we are looking at the entire history of the universal Church, current Orthodox practices are certainly relevant if they shed light upon the practices that were once shared, or even practiced exclusively in the East.



I have a hunch it was referring to the 1917 Canon, where it describes separated seating as being “desirable” [but not required], and in consistence with ancient customs. My guess is that this isn’t something that ever was considered a custom in the US, rather in certain eastern cultures.

"Canon 1262*

§1. It is desirable that, consistent with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church."

(*This Canon was from 1917, and so was abrogated when the 1983 Canon was released.)



Me too. We children were all with our mother and father.



This would be my thought. At least for English speaking Catholics. Parishes consisting mainly of Eastern European or Asian backgrounds may have had different practices.



Where you lived, yes. But as shown in the post above you, separation of the sexes was encouraged, though not required, by the 1917 Code.



You have to be more specific. Which churches are doing something wrong? Catholic Churches are not doing it.



What is your point?



The question was whether genders sat separately at the EF Mass. You answered no. I just elaborated that it varied.



In the early 2000s in DuBois, PA, I asked about the hat clips on one side and not the other, and was told that it came from men sitting on Joseph’s side, and women Mary’s.

it’s certainly relevant to Eastern Catholics . . . and the references to St. John Chrysotum are from a time when East and West were in communion . . .



Not to nitpick, but this is only true at the most Orthodox of Jewish services. I’ve never seen it in action, but I’ve only attended Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist services.



Ladies´ blouses have the right part over the left so men sitting on the right side couldn’t peek and see the ladies showing skin. The opposite for men´s shirts and they sat on the right hand side so ladies couldn’t see skin either.



Now, that’s interesting — but surely: a) gender separation, to the extent it was practiced in the west, must pre-date the modern designs of shirts and blouses; b) back at that time people presumably were attending church in a lot more than just a shirt or blouse, with at least a suit jacket or other item of apparel on top; c) it’s hard to believe the evolution of modern clothing was so influenced by church-going Catholics. Just some thoughts.



If you Google it you’ll find many theories but nothing definite. For men it usually boils down to ease of using weapons and for women having someone else do up the buttons. Nowhere have I ever seen church attendance mentioned.

I thought Paula Poundstone had the best explanation “Some costumers speculate that at one time, both men and women held animal skins over themselves with their left hand, making a right-over-left closure, in order to free up their right hand for more important tasks, such as signing their Discover card receipt at the belt store.”




I know of some Protestant Churches in America where the sexes were segregated up until the mid 1800s I believe.

I’ve been fortunate to experience a Byzantine vespers and when I heard that phrase I took it as having the tone you suggest. I thought it, taken as such, to be perfect.



He was ahead of his time



It isn’t relative to us today, per se. However, I do think it is important for us to know the history of how and why things were done; or at the very least, understand that the history is important to some people.

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Extraordinary how many people argue from the specific to a general in what is supposed to be a catholic (universal) Church. Yes, in the past, in living memory in some countries were segregated by sex.



I am pretty sure that it did occur at one time long ago, as in sevceral hundred years ago. I have been on guided tours of several old churches where the guides said so and one even pointed out curious vestiges from that time, such as pegs for hanging hats being provided only on the men’s side.

But I have no idea when the practice ceased, or indeed how universal it was.



I think there is also some more complicated stuff in here, such as the concept and practice of the “Churching of women”. If you figure that there was no such thing as ABC, there would have been plenty of pregnant women around, who may or may not have been “confined” (i.e. kept out of sight, or in the home, etc) depending on the society. Plenty of nursing babies, and plenty of little ones to look after. Plus, I figure a majority of people in most societies were living in abject poverty, so this would affect who could actually get to church.
If we’re talking about centuries before 1900 or so, that is.


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