VEILING OF. Before the first Vespers of Passion Sunday all the crosses,
pictures, statues, etc., of a church are covered with unadorned purple veils.
Those of the cross are removed on Good Friday and the others at the Gloria in
excelsis on Holy Saturday; the stations of the cross need not be covered. This
is an obvious sign of mourning and also may have reference to the words 'He hid
himself' in the gospel of Passion Sunday; but the former covering of the whole
rood-screen with a 'Lenten veil' at the beginning of Lent is probably its true
origin." (Catholic Dictionary)
prescriptions of the Roman Missal, Breviary, and 'Caeremoniale Episcoporum' for
this time [Passiontide] are: before Vespers of Saturday preceding Passion Sunday
the crosses, statues, and pictures of Our Lord and of the saints on the altar
and throughout the church, with the sole exception of the crosses and pictures
of the Way of the Cross, are to be covered with a violet veil, not translucent,
nor in any way ornamented. The crosses remain covered until after the solemn
denudation of the principal crucifix on Good Friday. The statues and pictures
retain their covering, no matter what feast may occur, until the Gloria in
Excelsis of Holy Saturday. According to an answer of the S. R. C. of 14 May,
1878, the practice may be tolerated of keeping the statue of St. Joseph, if
outside the sanctuary, uncovered during the month of March, which is dedicated
to his honour, even during Passiontide... The crosses are veiled because Christ
during this time no longer walked openly among the people, but hid himself.
Hence in the papal chapel the veiling formerly took place at the words of the
Gospel: 'Jesus autem abscondebat se.' Another reason is added by Durandus,
namely that Christ's divinity was hidden when he arrived at the time of His
suffering and death. The images of the saints also are covered because it would
seem improper for the servants to appear when the Master himself is hidden (Nilles,
'Kal.,' II, 188). In some places the crosses were covered on Ash Wednesday; in
others on the first Sunday of Lent. In England it was customary on the first
Monday of Lent to cover up all the crucifixes, images of every kind, the
reliquaries, and even the cup with the Blessed Sacrament. The cloths used were
of white linen or silk and marked with a red cross (Rock, infra, IV, 258)."
Note that the duration
& date, and other aspects of veiling, may vary.
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