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Saturday, October 2, 2010

What Color Mantilla? Black or White?

It doesn't much matter these days what color you wear. There are no hard and fast rules. 

Traditionally, however, you wore black if you were married and ivory or white if you were unmarried. 

As a married woman, therefore, I usually wear black. In the summer I occasionally wear an ivory mantilla depending on my attire and if I think that the black feels a little too dark.


  1. are there any rules about what type of head covering to wear? I read a comment about it on Fr. Z's's the post: Here is what the commenter said: "One niggling little point that always bothers me about these discussions: many people seem fixated on the sheer lace chapel veil (blessedly absent from the site you linked, Father, thank you!) as the normative, “traditional” way. My understanding is that women were expected to “cover” at Mass, not specifically 'veil'...And honestly, every time I see a lace veil, part of me asks, 'In what sense are you covering with this see-through bit of lace?' A blouse or skirt constructed of nothing but that lace would most certainly not 'cover' a woman and would be highly immodest." Anyway, I was just wondering what your thoughts were on the topic of types of coverings and what, if any, were the rules on that.

  2. I thought it was white if you're unmarried, beige/ivory if you're married, and black if you are widowed.

  3. Interesting point - I haven't been able to find anything authoritative on it.

    Here are some links with discussions on the white/black distinction. There seems to be a bit of a consensus that its light for unmarried women, dark for married women. Keep in mind that these aren't strict rules or expectations - you should feel free to vary:

  4. Hi Cathy,

    I was in mass this morning and a woman was wearing a colorful fabric scarf (not see through) which was lovely but other women in the church were wearing lace mantillas and they looked wonderful too (I was wearing a black lace mantilla).

    The blouse/skirt analogy brought up by the commenter doesn't quite work. We need to wear clothing almost all of the time in order to protect our modesty (and the gift of our sexual faculties). This is why it would be immodest to wear a see through lace dress/blouse/skirt without a under lining.

    We don't, however, need to have our hair constantly covered. It isn't immodest, for example, to have our hair uncovered when going to the shops to buy some milk or to have lunch with friends at a restaurant.

    A veil does indeed cover. Whether it is made of lace or not.

    There are no strict rules about how we cover or veil - it's not required by canon law and while I like to veil because it is mentioned in the bible and is a sign of reverence for God, how one veils is a matter of personal preference. This is in part because the whole issue of head covering, properly speaking, is a matter of discipline (and not unchanging faith and morals).

    If you want to wear a lace chapel veil, go ahead.

    I also think we should be careful of becoming too scrupulous or of harshly judging others in their good-faith efforts to be reverent.

    1. Well said.

      I have been considering taking up the tradition of veils or hats. While in my search there have been good things. Unfortunately, there have been a lot of nit pickers and nay-sayers as well.

      It makes a newbie uncomfortable to think that someone is judging her based on the choice of color of her veil and veil style.

      I think the point and emphasis being it should be a woman's personal choice in what to wear in her quest for humility before God.

      I started my whole journey because of one lady at church. Who wears a full stark white mantilla for every service. She wears it without guilt and fear. I also shall wear whatever I chooses without guilt or fear. This is for God and not others.

    2. I love your response. It is a personal choice that is for God. No shame in faith and choice. God bless

    3. I love your response. It is a personal choice that is for God. No shame in faith and choice. God bless

  5. Curious about 3 too young? I recently started wearing a mantila, and my daughter has been dying for one of her own. But I don't want to commit a faux pas by having her wear it too early. Are you supposed to wait until First Confession or Communion? If not, I was planning to sew one on to a white headband for her.

    reply at: saraskees at gmail dot com


  6. If she wants to, I say let her. My 7 and 5 year old both veil.