More Examples of Lenten Veils -- the "Velum Quadrigesimale"

In the past, we have spoken of the Lenten veil before -- the "velum quadrigesimale."  To summarize in brief, it is a kind of visual or aesthetic form of fasting. Just as one might opt for more sober vestments during Lent (not necessarily of course, but it was an option some chose to exercise), so too would the beauty of altarpieces and/or sanctuaries sometimes be covered over, replaced with Lenten imagery.  This point is noteworthy, it was not the utter absence of imagery so much as was a replacement of it with more liturgically thematic images and symbols. The English tradition was perhaps the most austere in this regard (where it is typically referred to as '"Lenten array") which was typically manifest by unbleached, coarse natural fibres covered in purple and red designs tied to the Passion.

These veils are not the same as the veils of Passiontide but in many regards they are very similar in purpose, covering up not merely the beauty of particular images or statues, but of the entire altarpiece or sanctuary  The esteemed German liturgiologist, Josef Braun, commented as follows on Lenten veils:

Whereas according to current Roman use Crosses and images are only veiled during Passiontide, in the Middle Ages the common thing was to cover them right at the start of Lent, be it from the Terce of the Monday after the first Sunday of Lent, be it – although less frequently – already from Ash Wednesday. Here and there the veiling was even done on Septuagesima. Moreover, not only Crosses and images were withdrawn from the view of the faihtful by means of veils, but also reliquaries and chandeliers, and even evangeliaries whose covers were ornamented with pictorial representations were sometimes veiled. […] The custom of veiling Crosses and images during Lent is apparently not of Roman, but of Gallican origin. It was already known in Gaul in the 7th century... As material for the veils which covered Crosses, images, reliquaries etc. chiefly white linen was used in the Middle Ages. 
-- Die Liturgischen Paramente

One of our readers sent in some further examples of Lenten veils, all of which come from Sicily where this tradition is still more common, and we are pleased here to share these with our readers.

Join in the conversation on our Facebook page.