Veil, Ecclesiastical Coverings of this kind have been used in various ages of the Church and for various purposes.
1. In the Greek Church the nave was separated from the chancel by a partition of lattice-work with a curtain, and the entrance to the choir was by folding-doors in this partition. The doors were provided with a curtain called καταπέτασμα, which was drawn aside during the celebration of the eucharist, and, in the earlier times, during the delivery of a sermon. Generally, however, these veils were drawn, and concealed this part of the Church from catechumens and unbelievers, and covered the eucharist during consecration.
2. A veil or curtain was hung in front of the church door in early times. Jerome tells us that Nepotian was very careful to see it in its place.
3. Bankers were placed at the sides of the altars, let down when the priest entered the sanctuary, and raised every Saturday during Lent when the Sunday office began. Dorsals and frontal veils were also used at the high altars of large churches until the end of the 16th century.
4. Curtains of great richness were used only in Lent, one to veil the altar, a second the sanctuary, and a third the choir. They were succeeded by permanent screens; hence in Spain, as marriages were permitted or forbidden, such seasons were called "veilings open or shut."
5. A white veil or coif, called velamen dominicale, was worn by females at the time of receiving the eucharist during the 5th and 6th centuries. These veils were ordered by the councils of Autun (578) and Angers.
6. The velamen nuptiale was always used at the marriage ceremony, and during one part of the service was spread, over both bridegroom and bride. It was worn by the bride as a symbol of maiden modesty and obedience to her husband.
7. A nun's veil was .an ornament used in the time of St. Gregory (740), given only to a woman twenty-five years of age, and, except in cases of extreme sickness, at no time but Epiphany, an apostle's day, or Low Sunday. The color was sometimes purple or flame-color.
8. A cloth called the white birrus, shot with red thread in memory of Christ's Passion, was worn like a crown, to preserve the chrism, by the baptized, and was laid aside with the alb. It fell into disuse in 1090, when the chrism was wiped off with some light material like silk.
9. At a solemn high-mass the subdeacon muffles his arms and shoulders in a scar for veil in token of humility and reverence when he elevates the paten to announce the time of communion. The priest also used it to envelop his hands at the time of the benediction.
10. Female penitents wore veils (the velamen penitentice) and cut their hair short or let it hang loosely about their shoulders. The third Council of Toledo (531) expressly enjoined the use of these veils.
11. Veils were also worn by females at confirmation.
12. A black veil for the head was used by Greek priests in reading the prophecies, in allusion to 2Co 3:13-16.
13. A white damask with fringe, called the churching-cloth, was used in the latter half of the 17th century at the churching of women in England.
14. At Christmas and Easter, formerly, in France, three veils were laid' upon the altar and then removed the first black, to represent the time before the law; the second, pale, to signify the time of the law; and the third, red, to show the time of grace. One was removed at each nocturn of Christmas.
15. The covering for the cross and images used .in England during Lent is called a veil. It signified variously, according to the different authorities, the darkness of infidelity which covered the face of the Jews in the Old Test., "the mourning and lamentation of sinners for their ungodly manners."
16. A covering of silk, embroidered and of the color of the season, was used for placing over the chalice and paten when prepared for the Christian sacrifice, and for the same purpose when the sacrifice was completed. This is called the veil for the chalice. The "white linen cloth" of the Church of England communion-service is also called the veil for the chalice.
17. At Winchester College a canopy of linsey-woolsey powdered with stars of gold was used to fall over the pyx on Palm-Sunday and Corpus Christi. This was called Sindon, pyx, or Corpus Christi cloth.
18. A veil or curtain of silk, satin, velvet, or cloth of gold or silver is used to enclose the tabernacle for the Blessed Sacrament when reserved in the Roman Catholic Church. It is called the veil for the tabernacle, and came into use most probably when the setting-up of tabernacles became general.
Taking the veil is a term used to designate the act of consecration to the Church, when a female takes upon herself vows, after, which she never appears in public unveiled. SEE NUN.