In practically all the approved apparition sites Our Blessed Lady has appeared wearing a veil or some form of head covering. On the other hand, for those honoured with visions of Christ, we are told He does not wear a head covering. Divine symbols have significance. If the Immaculate Mother of God modestly wears a veil when in prayer and imparting messages from Heaven to mankind, surely this sends a message to girls and women of the Church Militant on Earth that we too should cover our heads when in Church or at prayer.
“For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.” (1 Corinthians 11:8-10)
Radical and militant feminists, who dissent from their femininity and any symbol that praises a women’s role as different from that of a man’s, fail to comprehend the sublime treasure women have been given by God.
The Church routinely uses the image of a husband and wife to understand the relationship between Christ and the Church. Like a husband, Christ loves and cherishes His Church, and in return, the whole body of the Church is to honour and submit to Christ, the head of the Church. Thus, every woman is understood to be an image of the Church. The act of veiling at Mass is a symbol of humbling oneself, a reminder to the whole Church that we are to submit ourselves to the will of God in all our affairs.
Since the early days of Christianity, wearing chapel veils has been a common practice among faithful women. Chapel veils, also commonly called mantillas, which comes from the word manta, meaning cape, are typically circular or triangular shaped pieces of black or white lace that are draped over a woman’s head when attending Mass, or in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Traditionally, the black veils were worn by married or widowed women, while the white veils were worn by young girls, or unmarried women.
But the deepest spiritual meaning behind wearing a veil (or hat) is simply because it is beautiful. Take a look inside your parish church. What things are veiled? The altar, the tabernacle, and a bride on her wedding day. All things beautiful and life-giving are veiled. It means something, and it certainly is not demeaning!
Throughout the centuries, the wearing of the mantilla is an act of veiling a woman’s physical beauty, so that the beauty of God may be glorified instead, and a way of emulating, Our Blessed Mother Mary who is the archetype of purity and humility.
Moreover, the mantilla, or chapel veil, signifies the role of women as a life-bearing vessel. The chalice holding the blood of Christ is veiled until the Preparation of the Gifts, and the tabernacle is veiled between Masses. Both of these vessels hold the Eucharist – the very life of Christ. In a similar fashion, the woman was endowed by God with the special gift of bearing new human life. Because of this, women, as all things holy and sacred, are veiled.
[Varied sources have been used for this article.]