This beautiful chapel veil is handmade by members of the St. Martha’s Guild at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago.
"By wearing the chapel veil you are not hiding your beauty, you are revealing your dignity."
BRIDAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CHAPEL VEIL
Practically every bride wears a veil on her wedding day. It is an ancient symbol that is still cherished today. The Sacrament of Marriage ultimately points to the reality of the nuptial love between Bridegroom (Christ) and His Bride (Church). But the royal nuptials are a part of every Mass.
Every woman, even if she is not married, personifies, the Church and her bridal status. Thus, when the Church gathers to worship, every woman has the privilege of wearing a veil to signify this bridal status. By wearing a veil a woman discreetly communicates her own dignity, for we veil what we treasure and consider sacred.
VEILING THE SACRED
Just look at what is veiled in the sanctuary: the tabernacle. Like a woman with child, the tabernacle “bears” Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Since the tabernacle is sacred (“set apart”), it is not permitted that just anyone can open it to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament. The same may be said of the chalice, for only the Priest is permitted to handle it.
By wearing a veil, a woman reminds us that she too is a sacred vessel because of her God-given capacity to bear children, and thus deserves the respect similar to that accorded to tabernacles and sacred liturgical vessels, respect that entails a life-long commitment from a man in the bonds of holy matrimony open to life. This respect, moreover, goes hand in hand with the cultivation of the virtue of chastity and purity, which in turn give to both men and women the maturity that the life-long commitments of both marriage and religious life demand.
DIGNITY OF WOMANHOOD
Reviving the ancient tradition of wearing a veil in the church is a simple and beautiful way to foster respect for the dignity of women. The wearing of the chapel veil (mantilla) emphasizes the mystical marriage of Christ and His Holy Bride, the Church, which is renewed at Mass. The mantilla is a vivid reminder of the gift of womanhood and femininity. It promotes the virtues of chastity and purity.
Wearing the chapel veil is a mystical symbol that invites the woman wearing it to ascend the ladder of sanctity, by humbly following after this Biblical tradition, handed down through the ages. It is also a way of emulating the humility, purity and submissiveness of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the model of Christian perfection.
“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 ... Veiling indicates sacredness and it is a special privilege of the woman that she enters church veiled.”
- Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand
Wearing a veil does not make us more devout, reverent, or humble than the woman who doesn’t wear a veil. From personal experience, what it will do is enhance our experience of worship at Holy Mass and be a beautiful external reminder of our littleness before the Blessed Sacrament. Wearing a veil helps me to envision that when I receive Jesus in Holy Communion, my head covering forms a cocoon that helps to mentally block out the sounds around me so that I can concentrate on praying to Jesus who is now physically inside me. And veiling makes me more mindful of how appropriately dressed I am for Mass.