Monday, October 09, 2006

"Sartorial statement"

Why I wore a veil when I met John Paul II
by Cristina Odone, 10/10/2006,

The framed photograph sits proudly on my bookshelf: Pope John Paul II stands in the Sistine Chapel, surrounded by intellectuals from across Europe – and, in a black mantilla, me.

In 1999, the Vatican held a conference to prepare for the Jubilee Year of 2000. They invited a group of academics, writers and broadcasters. Despite some raised eyebrows from Westminster Cathedral about my eligibility, I was Britain's representative. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I was nervous: would my speech on religion and the media be OK, would my fellow delegates discuss the Summa Theologica over their cornflakes, would I have to kiss the Pope's ring?

The one thing I felt certain about was what to wear: the mantilla – a lace head-covering, usually black – perfectly blends humility, modesty and respect. This doesn't mean I choose to wear it to Mass every Sunday. For one thing, although it was once the must-have accessory of Catholic womanhood, only a very few, very pious women use it any more; and, anyway, the mantilla seems a bit ostentatious now that it has adorned Diana, Princess of Wales and Cherie Blair. But as a sartorial statement of my Catholic faith, there is nothing to beat it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love this post. .... I did have a brief moment of mild shock, however, when I inadvertently breezed by the story's by-line and thought that the writer was the owner of this blog! A fella, a priest in a mantilla! (Not that there's anything wrong with that...) Could just be a priest trying to look at things from the perspective of a woman. You know, as in a female writer dying her hair to see what life is like as a blond. Or, as the male writer did in Memoirs of a Guisha, applying makeup to himself in order to be able to write from the perspective of a woman. (Lesson 1: Read carefully. Lesson 2: Never assume.)

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting story, from top to bottom.

7:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sad because head coverings are as much required for baptised women today as they were back in Paul's era but they're seen as a mark of repression and so this particular commandment is ignored. Once again, society eeks into the gaping holes of Christianity.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Ginny said...

I don't go anywhere without it! Actually I was on my way to Mass this weekend when I realized that I switched pocketbooks and didn't have my veil. I travel almost 45 min to go to the Latin Mass and I felt that awful feeling when you know you have forgotten something. When I got closer to the Church I realized that I didn't have my veil with me. I have a spare chapel veil that I keep in my glove compartment for an emergency. I would have felt very uncomfortable without it. Also, I never attend or enter a Church without being in a dress or skirt. This is the most reverent way i can show The Lord his due respect. I just wish more women would follow this

3:13 PM  

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