Passiontide Veiling & Unbleached Candles

This morning, after our Saturday morning Mass, our crew of employees and volunteers did the annual veiling of the images and setting out of unbleached candles that we do during Passiontide.

(Since we are celebrating a Year of St. Joseph this year [until May 1], we did not veil the statue of St. Joseph, though we did take down the festive drapes around it.)

Here is the description that I shared in my parish bulletin concerning this practice:


The Sunday before Palm Sunday was traditionally known as Passion Sunday. It was on that day that the church’s principal images (statues/crucifixes) were veiled for the remainder of Lent. This was, at least in part, because the gospel for that day said that Jesus “hid himself, and went out of the temple” (John 8:59). The veiling of images of our Lord and his saints adds to the penitential “feel” of the Lenten season as we approach his death on Good Friday and mourn his time in the tomb. Thus also the use of unbleached beeswax candles: they contrast with the more festive white of the bleached candles that we traditionally see throughout the year. Unbleached candles may actually be used not only during Passiontide but whenever purple is worn – so almost all of Lent and Advent. Historically, they were most often used on Good Friday and for the Office of Tenebrae. Apart from penitential seasons, they may also be used as a sign of mourning at funeral Masses. Details such as these add wonderful variety to our celebrations and enhance their spiritual meaning. The conclusion of Lent is a more reserved and somber time; may we all strive to be recollected and unite ourselves to the liturgical movement, so to prepare ourselves for a wonderful celebration of Easter!

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