Thursday, 16 January 2014

Why men don't wear mantillas in church

No matter how handsome the hat, it should
not be worn by men in church. The late Roy Campbell.
There's the obvious reason, of course, a mantilla, veil or headscarf is an item of feminine attire.

But. why then do men not wear a cap, a fedora or trilby at Mass?

Because, in Western Catholic society, the norm is for a male to remove headgear upon entering a house.

It is a mark of respect to the host.

If I, or any of my brothers entered the family home still wearing a school cap or a hat my dear father would immediately challenge such behaviour with the words: "Is thy father a Jew?".
At which point the offending article would be removed with haste.

Now, leaving aside what St Paul had to say on the matter, it is a fact that a woman may enter a home without removing her headgear and not cause offence. Do you see where we are coming to?

The protocol has been set; men do not wear hats in the home. Women may.

In Church, the same applies and, I hate to use this well worn phrase, but.....before Vatican II, all women wore the veil or mantilla to Mass. It was plain good manners.

I am not going to go into the reasons why and the beauty that such humility brings because this post on Catholicism Pure and Simple covers it so very well.

I am also, I suspect, preaching to the converted.

But, if you are not one of the converted, and, provided that you are female, give the matter some serious, mature, non knee jerk reflection - (please).


  1. So, what about these praying mantillas?

    1. Please Patricius, I am still in recovery from "thurible".

  2. A few of my Catholic female friends are just plain too concerned about their hair getting smashed down. Also they are too concerned about how they look in a veil. I find both attitudes to be shameful, selfish and sinful. I have hair from hell. What I look like with or after removal of my veil is of no consequence. They need to get their focus on Him, not themselves.

    I began wearing a veil in reparation for religious sisters who abandoned their habits for polyester pantsuits. This was when I still attended the Freemason approved Prot service. I must say that I delighted in the reactions of the polyester sisters. Fangs and claws out, cowering in a corner and hissing like someone was about to throw holy water on them. I loved it!

    As far as Novus Ordo females, they show up for Adoration in shorts. What good would a veil do them??

  3. Under the Jewish faith men wear a head covering signifying the Law which they are under..... a Christian is under Jesus Christ and the forgivness of sin.... therefore a man's head is not symbolicly covered

  4. Actually, the requirement for a woman "back in the day" was simply to wear a cover, which could be a mantilla, but was often a hat, perhaps one that matched their outfit. The requirement was strict enough that schoolgirls attending daily Mass would have to put a Kleenex on their heads, attached with a bobby pin, if they had nothing else. (Seriously. I'm old enough to have seen it.)

    1. By the time we got to 7th grade if we forgot our hats for mass, we opened up a clean tissue and pinned it to our heads with a bobby pin. It was very common. We didn't care. I have searched the web for an old photo showing that and can't find one. Does anyone have an original photo? It would be great fun to see.

  5. In the US, one never saw a mantilla at Mass in the 1950's. Women wore hats or headscarves. Catholic school uniforms included hats. After Jackie Kennedy was photographed wearing a mantilla to Mass, they became acceptable, even fashionable.

    1. Laura, it was much the same in the UK except, at a rough guess I would say that around 40% of the women wore mantillas, the rest, scarves or hats.

  6. Men haven't worn hats regularly for more than fifty years. If I wore a hat in Church people would still look at me askance. Why? It's a holdover from those times. It has no meaning anymore. Yet it still occurs. Perhaps there's a deeper reason which escapes me. I am very thin man. I have sat through many miserably cold church services wishing I could put a small woollen hat on my head so I could spend more time praying rather than being aware of how cold I was. But I never have. One day I will but I'm sure I will spend more time worrying about what others are thinking than praying anyway so it won't be worth it. Would it be a sin to wear the hat? Am I disturbing someone else? What to do? The world is a strange place. I don't understand a lot of it.

  7. Ron, the wearing of a hat does still have meaning, or, rather, it should. In this country, men should raise their hat when they meet a priest or a woman. Also, when passing a Catholic Church, the hat should be raised. It is still considered rude to wear a hat indoors.

  8. The reasons for veiling are numerous: humility, reverence, modesty, bringing tradition back to the Mass. The reasons against veiling are just as strong: subjugation of women, false humility, holier-than-thou attitudes, taking the Church back to pre-Vatican II days.


  9. I like the way the author of this article put it. Its just good manners. I am among the non catholics but when in Rome, well you know.....
    i dont have a hangup about wearing a nice feminine piece of lace on my head because its a special occasion and keeps us mindful of respectful dress and behavior.
    my only beef here is in the practicalities of attaching that piece of lace to my head. I have thin hair and the sewn in comb or bobby pin is useless. The alternative is constantly straightening and adjusting the mantilla that has slipped off to one side.
    your spanish mantillas seem to have the solution but no one sitting behind you is going to see anything behind that high peineta comb.
    Also while i really like the formal long mantilla length we see during Holy Week processions, thats a bit much for the average woman who wants to be respectful but practical.
    The low peineta seems to be a good pick. You can anchor the lace to your head and forget it and not suffer the sin of being a better door than a window.
    if combs arent for you i have found that the stretch lace works well, as does the infinity veil now being made.
    i love being a girl and cant think of a more pleasant tradition than wearing a nice piece of lace. But i dont want to work that hard at it.
    Hope this encourages the ladies, and thanks for reading.