In chapter eleven of the First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul exhorts women to cover their heads when "praying or prophesying." For much of the last two thousand years, the Church has interpreted this to mean that women must keep their heads covered during Mass. While most canon lawyers agree that, due to changes in canon law made during the twentieth century, women are no longer obligated to cover their heads, some traditionalist Catholics continue the practice, especially when attending the Traditional Latin Mass.
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Choose how you would like to cover your head, remembering that you are obligated to cover only your head and not your face. Historically, most women have chosen to wear veils, but scarves and mantillas have also been popular options. A mantilla is a scarf that is worn over the head and shoulders, often over a high comb.
Decide what shape of head covering you would like to wear. Common varieties include rectangular, semicircular, and triangular-shaped veils and scarves.
Determine whether you would like your head covering to have scalloped or non-scalloped edges, if you select a triangular-shaped veil. Both types of edges represent equally pious options.
Select a colour for your head covering, keeping in mind that above all, you must seek modesty. While black and white are the most popular options, head coverings are also available in rose pink and other soft colours.
Tips and warnings
- Recognise why you are wearing the veil or other form of head covering. Catholic women do this in imitation of the Virgin Mary. By covering her head, a woman acknowledges that she must submit herself to the will of the Lord.
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- Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible: 1st Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians
- Catholic Planet: Headcovering for Catholic Women
- Roman Catholic Sacramentals Foundation: Chapel Veils/Head Covering/Mantillas
- Roman Catholic Sacramentals Foundation: Triangular Veils
- Catholic Planet: The Veil of the Virgin Mary