If you are a lifelong Catholic and encountered religious sisters over the years, you may have noticed that in some communities that the color of the veil can signify whether the sister has been professed or not. Not infrequently over the years, Handmaids have been asked about our white veils by others assuming they are speaking to a novice or junior sister. Our veils have always been white, even for finally professed sisters. While you can see some black veils in our archive photos, they were more like traveling veils. Whenever a sister had to travel outside the monastery she wore a black veil both as a symbol for the trip and a useful help traveling the original dirt road in the Jemez Mountains. The practice was discontinued over time and the white veil is worn at all times.
So why is the veil white? Our Founder, Father Gerald, wanted it to symbolize the Eucharist. Having recently celebrated the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, its fitting this month to share this symbol that pays tribute to the Blessed Sacrament and reminds us of our life of adoration.
Historical tidbit: In addition to the occasional use of the black travel veil, the Handmaids have had different types of white veils and head coverings ranging from the early coifs, to collars with caps and square topped veils. In 2010 we returned to use of the coif and soft veil.