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Cardinal Godfried Danneels wearing a humeral veil for holding a monstrance during a procession.

The humeral veil is one of the liturgical vestments of the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and some Lutheran churches. It consists of a piece of cloth about 2.75 m long and 90 cm wide draped over the shoulders and down the front, normally of silk or cloth of gold. At the ends there are sometimes pockets in the back for hands to go into so that the wearer can hold items without touching them with his hands.[1] The humeral veil is of the liturgical colours of the days on which it is used, or else is white or cloth of gold.

It is most often seen during the liturgy of Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. When the priest or deacon blesses the people with the monstrance, he covers his hands with the ends of the veil so that his hands do not touch the monstrance, as a mark of respect for the sacred vessel and as an indication that it is Jesus present in the Eucharistic species who blesses the people and not the minister.

The humeral veil is also seen at the Mass of the Lord's Supper when the Ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament is taken in procession to the place of reposition, and again when it is brought back to the altar without solemnity during the Good Friday service.

In the High Mass form of Tridentine Mass, the subdeacon uses a humeral veil when carrying the chalice, paten, or other sacred vessels, which should be touched only by the deacon.

The vimpa, similar to a humeral veil but narrower, is sometimes used when a bishop celebrates Mass. If he uses mitre and crosier, the altar servers assigned to this task cover their hands with the vimpa when holding them for him, symbolizing that the items do not belong to them.

See also


  1. "Humeral Veil". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.