Shrouding from the beginning of Lent?

We visited St Mary’s in Cowes today for Mass. It’s a fairly normal parish, with the unusual fact that it has an even higher than normal proportion of pensioners (local retirees on the Island), and parish priest of the “good old” sort. Today it was packed with holiday makers for the long weekend (actually its nice to see lots of young families, on holidays, turn up for mass). The music is presented by a fairly enthusiastic guitar and flute group (with a choir of sorts) even though the repertoire is limited (you can always expect “Here I am Lord” or “Come as you are”). It is singable at least.

As I said, the parish priest, who can’t be more than a few years off retirement age, is a traditional kind of guy. Not a “traditionalist”, but the sort of guy who does what is “traditional”. For instance, I have never seen communion offered under both kinds at St Mary’s. They still have two collections (“Hobbit first and second collections”, as I commented to my daughter – that got a giggle).

But is this a “tradition”? Or was it ever? I know that it is usual to shroud the images and statues and crucifixes etc. from “Passion Sunday” onwards (6th Sunday in Lent in the new money, 5th in the old), but I was never aware of a custom in which the shrouding took place from the very beginning of Lent.

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
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4 Responses to Shrouding from the beginning of Lent?

  1. Never mind the shrouding , David, what about the mangled Mass? Not offering both kinds? Surely, you don’t buy concomitance? After all, if true, why would our Lord bother with the wine anyway? Another reason not to be Catholic, I’m afraid.

  2. Clara says:

    Interesting. Perhaps there is a new trend. My boys were outraged last year when there was no shrouding on Holy Thursday at Port Fairy. I am pretty sure that the statues were not shrouded in our parish church which happens to be the cathedral parish. This year the statues were shrouded on Ash Wednesday. Go figure!

  3. Tony Bartel says:

    The Sarum (English) tradition was to veil all statues for the whole of Lent.

    The Roman tradition was to veil from the Fifth Sunday in Lent onwards, that being the old Passion Sunday before the changes to the Liturgy. When Passion Sunday was moved to the Palm Sunday, then the date of the veiling changed.

    In the East, of course, there is no veiling as indeed there is no tradition of abstinence from “Alleluia” during Lent. In fact, if anything, the word occurs more often during this time and features quite prominently in the Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God which is sung on Friday nights during Lent.

    The First Sunday in Lent is the Sunday of Orthodoxy, celebrating the defeat of iconoclasm. There is a procession around the church at the end of Liturgy with the people carrying icons. So Lent begins not with the veiling of images, but with their veneration.

  4. Tony Bartel says:

    I can think of a few reasons not to be Roman Catholic, but this would not make the list. After all, those who receive only the host still receive the whole of Christ.

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