Humeral veil – updated

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I like to follow your daily postings and read them carefully. Your reply about the wearing (or not wearing) of the humeral veil by lay ministers made me go back to the Latin text; and I would offer the following comment.

The Latin text for #91 makes it clear that Minister ordinarius expositionis sanctissimi Sacramentui est sacerdos vel diaconus….it then goes on to mention and specifiy in a and b that lay persons may serve in this role since the priest or deacon were “absentibus… vero legitime impeditis….

This rubric, I believe, envisions that Exposition, Adoration, and Reposition are exercised “as a norm” by the ordinary ministers, and therefore what follows regarding vesture should be understood in that light. Number 92 specifically directs the priest or the deacon albam induat vel superpelliceum super veste talari et stolam albi coloris assumat. It continues: Alli vero ministri aut vestem liturgicam in sua regione forte traditam assumant, aut vestem induant quae huic miniterio non dedeceat et ab Ordinario probatam. Ad benedictionem autem impertiendam in fine adorationis quando expositio cum ostensorio facta sit, sacerdos et diaconus pluviale quoque et velum umerale albi coloris assumant, si vero cum pyxide, velus umerale assumant. NOTE: the humeral veil is specified for the priest and the deacon and not for the alli ministri. Granted that the ritual does not envision the lay minister imparting the blessing; nevertheless, the ritual specifies the vesture for the ordinary ministers–and for the extraordinary ones vesture that is suitable for their ministry and has been approved by the Ordinary.

Number 99 as you correctly note directs the priest or the deacon to put on the humeral veil to impart the blessing; however, in light of what is specified in number 92, namely,  the specific inclusion there of exactly what the priest or the deacon is to wear during the blessing (i.e. the humeral veil), since the overall liturgical principle at stake here is that ministers, clergy or lay, wear vesture proper to their “order” or “state in life” when exercising their role in the liturgy, I believe that it is incorrect for an EMHC or a non-ordained religious (male or female) or a member of an association of men or women to wear liturgical vesture (i.e., the humeral veil) which has been specified as vesture for the “ordinary minister,” the priest or the deacon. In short, HCWEOM never mentions or alludes to what other “ministers” are to wear (other than what is stated above in number 92) since they are never allowed to impart the blessing with the Eucharist. Therefore wearing a humeral veil during any part of the ritual by a lay person is inappropriate at best.

The fact that there is no prohibition for the lay minister to wear the humeral veil doesn’t appear to be valid since where the humeral veil is mentioned and legislated to be worn is always in context referring to the vesture of a member of the clergy.

Anyway, your blog makes me think and research and I thank you.


A: I still say that 93 is speaking about a generic “minister”. By not saying “ordinary minister” or “Priest or Deacon” I believe it does indeed mean whichever minister is leading the service. You correctly note that 92 instructs priest and deacon to wear the humeral veil, but that is for the blessing, which a lay minister does not give. 93 concerns transporting the Blessed Sacrament, not blessing with it, and it still calls for a generic “minister” to wear the humeral veil.

I invite other readers of the blog to help if you can clarify this further.