Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Made-To-Measure Mantillas

I have been wearing a mantilla since about Summer 2005, maybe slightly earlier. I took private vows in 2002, dedicating my life to God as a woman in the single state, living and working in the world. Looking back, I feel that my understanding (and love) of Our Lord in the Eucharist was cranked up a notch. I became more aware of trying to be properly disposed when receiving Holy Communion, not only through regular Confession and daily prayer, but also in my outward manner, to be aware that I was receiving Our Lord, and to be more reverent in my movements.

Because of the operations I've had on my knee, I can't kneel. I can genuflect after a fashion, but not well. Some days I'm so stiff that I can't even do that: and to my intense discomfort, I am reduced to making a bow. I liked the idea of wearing a mantilla as a sign of respect in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, veiling my hair as a sign of humility in the presence of Almighty God. I looked up mantillas on the internet: I could only find three articles, but what I read was encouraging. I thought I'd only wear a mantilla at Classical Rite Masses...

...and was promptly challenged by my Spiritual Director as to my reasoning. I explained that I thought that mantillas weren't supposed to be worn at Novus Ordo Masses. I knew, from my reading, that they hadn't actually been banned, but I thought they were discouraged as old-fashioned...

On being told that this was most definitely not the case, I examined my reasoning. I wanted to show reverence in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. I wanted to make a deliberate act to remind myself in whose presence I was, and to indicate that I wished to shut out all outward distractions. And I wanted to show humility before Our Lord... So, did I believe that God was any more present at the Classical Rite than at the Novus Ordo? Absolutely not: I've said before that I love the Novus Ordo when it is carried out with reverence and love (and in accordance with the rubrics!) And so, the conclusion was inescapable: I would wear a mantilla whenever I was in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

Having made the decision, my next problem was finding a mantilla. Not an easy task. And I had no idea about materials, sizes, patterns... I knew I'd be able to get a mantilla in Lourdes, but that seemed ages away, and I wanted to get going. A priest who was a chaplain at my school went to Rome - he promised to get me a mantilla: unfortunately, the death (and funeral) of John Paul II meant that black mantillas were not to be had for love nor money... Luckily, a woman who wore a mantilla at the Classical Rite Mass was able to give me a spare, to start me off.

In Lourdes, I was able to get a look at the mantillas on sale in every shop. Unfortunately they were either viscose-and-polyester monstrosities which wouldn't stay on without at least three hair clips (and were badly made to boot) or they were stiff netting with pictures of St Bernadette and Our Lady (and the word "Lourdes") appliquéd in felt.

By chance, a priest known to Fr Tim was staying with his group at the same hotel. He was very involved in the Latin Mass Society, and he told me that a woman in his parish made mantillas. Needless to say, I got in touch. The mantillas she made were excellent. My favourite is quite a large one: it is a soft lacy material, not slippery, with a delicate lace edging, and it just sits on my head without the need for pins (unless I'm in an outdoor procession.)

However, since it is frequently just stuffed into a handbag or pocket, it's getting a little ragged at the seams. Time to get a new one. I phoned June this evening, and she's making a few for me (I like to be able to leave one in the car, and one in a bag...) and will do a few for the Parish Repository as well. The photo at the top of this post (my profile photo) shows the mantilla from the back...

And in case anyone is unclear as to why any woman these days would want to wear a mantilla, check out the posts I've written before: Wearing The Mantilla and More On Mantillas.


Mulier Fortis said...

Several people have asked me about where to buy mantillas.

June Wood agreed that I could put her name and number on the blog. She charges between £5 and £6 (around $12) or thereabouts for a beautifully made mantilla (black or white, I don't think she does any other colour) plus postage. She can be contacted on + 44 (0) 1582 708 374. It's a home address, so if you're phoning from abroad, remember the time difference!

Stephen Wikner said...

And can I just say, ladies - and I know this is not the reason for wearing a mantilla - that there are few women who don't look very good wearing one? It is a most becoming garment.

Jay said...

Formally, mantillas have never been abolished, it happened that during V2 the press wrote a bit inflated reports about 'reforms' and included news, a totally false one, that the mantillas are no longer a 'must'. Unfortunately nobody corrected the 'news', maybe other more important issues were pressing, however, the fact is that it quickly became 'norm' and mantilla disappeared from Churches. Similarly to TLM, they have never been abolished, they should be used during Mass. This is the will of God. Women that wear the mantillas at Mass are certainly pleasing to Him. God bless!

the owl of the remove said...

Mac - I have a growing number of women, mainly young, wearing the Mantilla in my little parish - and the little girls are very keen!
By the way - I've managed to get one image on my blog - can you put anything on you like if you find it on the web - will I get sued?

Cathy said...

Great comments.
Jay, some people split the atom of the Canon Law and swear up and down the law doesn't stand.
That may be (I disagree) but an immemorial custom by its very nature has ACQUIRED THE FORCE OF Canon Law,(and indeed can override Canon Law - Canon 26, CCL 1983) and veiling is a true immemorial custom and should be practiced. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're part of being a Roman Catholic woman.
"Custom is the best interpreter of Law." - Canon 27, CCL 1983
Having said all that, I am sick to death of talking about Canon Law and frankly, if people don't agree, I am not going to force the issue.
"Whatever floats your boat."
-Ma Beck, 2007

Ginny said...

Great Post!
I also wear a mantilla to Mass.
It shows great respect to Our Lord
I only wish more women would do so

Mantilla With Me said...


Would you like to write a post on your mantilla experiences for our new site: http://www.mantillawithme.com?

Perhaps a combination or redo of the posts you've already written on the topic?

You can email us at mantillawithme at gmail dot com


Rhoslyn Thomas said...

I've just ordered a mantilla for myself and for my Mum from lovely June! She was really friendly and the prices are very reasonable. Can't wait to start wearing my new one :)

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