More Pre-Vatican II Catholic Women

Yet another in a continuing series of pictures, proving that mantillas are scarcely the epitome of pre-Vatican II women’s wear.

“In a Chapel”. Painting by Aloysius O’Kelly, 1905. The chapel is a pilgrimage site, Chapelle Locmaria-an-Hent, in Pont Avi, Brittany, France. The woman is wearing a round Breton hat with a tail or backpiece.

Bretons have all sorts of hat shapes, depending on what village they’re from, and they were a favorite subject for 19th century artists. This is immediately obvious if you click on this Pinterest about Breton Women.

National Geographic has a whole photo gallery full of contemporary Breton women and their multifariously-shaped hats and coifs, including the famous thirteen-inch-tall starched-lace towers. You’ll notice that each village has its characteristic local dress style, too. The gallery also shows some differences between funeral, mourning, and normal social occasion clothing, girls, younger women, and old ladies.

Here’s a painting of “Breton Women at a Pardon,” aka parish festival for a saint. They are dressed for Mass, pilgrimage walking, and dancing, singing, and bonfires all night! “A Pardon in Kergoat” by Jules-Adolphe Breton shows attendees doing the church procession part. Unusually, this village has girls carrying the statues of various saints.

Paul Gauguin’s “Vision after the Sermon” shows Breton women at Mass, having a vision of Jacob wrestling with the angel. “The Communicants” by Jules-Adolphe Breton shows French or Breton girls dressed for First Communion, in that brand new bride style. I think the branches are in lieu of tapers.

Aloysius O’Kelly also produced the lovely Paris Salon painting, “Mass in a Connemara Cabin” (aka “A Station Mass in a Connemara Cabin”). You can click for a larger version. In this picture, girls and unmarried young women don’t wear scarves over their hair during Mass, while the married and old women do. (One dark-haired older girl clearly brought a scarf, but ends up wearing it around her neck. Apparently she wasn’t old or married enough.) Since this is a picture of pious people who are making an effort, clearly this was the established custom in this part of Connemara.

Here’s a 1950’s painting of “Going to Mass in Eire” by Myrtle Greenaway. Notice the ladies in hats and the old ladies in shawls/cloaks.


1 Comment

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One response to “More Pre-Vatican II Catholic Women

  1. Joy

    Those really tall hats in the National Geographic photos are neat!

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