8th Century Byzantine Laywomen Adulthood Blessing

It’s maybe a blessing for a woman “binding up her head” for the first time — ie, formally wearing an adult woman’s headgear.

Whatever the blessing is about, what’s interesting is that it includes tons on the theology and Biblical interpretation of women wearing headgear.

Namely, by referring to all Christian women as ideally “fully armed” (kathoplismenai) “in the Faith,” the prayer pictures headgear/veils as helmets, as well as quoting the bit about Christian women adorning themselves with good works, and living with modesty and sobriety.

Early Western scholars associated the prayer with bridal veiling, but apparently this is not it. Nor is it about the veiling of nuns. Now scholars aren’t sure what it’s about, which is something this article tackles.

The blessing refers to “the one who binds her [head] up,” who is referred to as a female person. So maybe this was the woman’s godmother or another sponsor, or her mother, or another female relative or friend. Obviously the prayer instructions do not think this needs to be explained or decreed, so who knows?

UPDATE: How I forgot to link the article, I don’t know. So I’ll link it twice this time.

“The Veiling of Women in Byzantium: Liturgy, Hair, and Identity in a Medieval Rite of Passage” by Gabriel Radle. This scholar seems to have several papers about liturgy, prayers, Eastern marriage traditions of Christians, etc., which are linked in the right hand margin.

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Supercool Revival of the Carecloth!

New Liturgical Movement has an interesting article about a recent nuptial Mass that revived a Christian custom that goes back to the 300’s — the velatio nuptialis, the imposition of the veil.

In pagan Rome, the bride was veiled in a flame-orange or flame-red cloth called “flammeum,” flame. (Interestingly, a lot of other cultures also used red, yellow, or orange veils, including China.) To put on the bridal veil was “nubere,” to cloud, and that’s why the marriage rites were “nuptialis.”

But in Christian life, a white cloth cloak (pallium) or cloth, was held (by two servers) over both the bride and groom at once, during the bishop or priest’s blessing of their marriage, to represent the Holy Spirit coming down upon the couple, as in the form of the shekhinah cloud of glory coming down on the Temple. Since the bodies of Christians are temples indwelt by God, this is very fitting. St. Ambrose talks about it, as if it were already a common custom from time immemorial.

Marriage in the early Church was not yet formally defined as a Sacrament, and didn’t take place inside most churches, but rather on their front porches where everyone could see. But yet we see this ceremonial, which is almost liturgical and features a sort of marital vestment/not vestment, almost an altarcloth/communion cloth. And it does seem to happen inside church, taking place at the same time as the special nuptial blessing by the bishop or priest (which was an inside-church thing).

Now, when the Church moved everything inside and clearly defined marriage as a Sacrament, this continued until very recently, and the old Sarum Mass had a ton about this. And since Matrimony is performed by the bride and groom, not by the priest (who is there as a witness and helper), the equal opportunity “vestment” is very fitting.

When I looked into Sarum use of this custom, years and years ago, all that I was told was that it was an imitation of the wedding canopy in Judaism. But that’s not right, either, because the Jewish wedding canopy is more about creating a sort of mini-Temple or mini-Holy of Holies, with the canopy seen as its roof. (Which is why there is or was traditional pickiness about the size of the area under the canopy. It’s also supposed to be a cube-shaped area, like the Holy of Holies.) It would be interesting to know if there was originally a common ancestor, in Second Temple tradition, to both the Western Catholic velatio nuptialis and the Jewish bridal canopy.

The Latin word “velum” means literally, “covering.” It can be talking about a cloak, a sail, a sun awning over a street or stadium seats, door curtains, window curtains, or a length of cloth, as well as a veil. But “velatio” is a Christian word, talking about the imposition of veils on vowed virgins (and later, nuns) or its use in the Sacrament of Matrimony over both bride and groom.

The English name for the couples’ veil is “carecloth,” and in medieval times it was often made of noble materials like silk or silk-velvet. It wasn’t necessarily white, either, perhaps because clouds can be different colors. It was only for first marriages — ie, both bride and groom were to have been previously unmarried.

St. Isidore of Seville talked about the cloth being white with a red pattern or a red string, which represented the bloodlines of the two families. (Possibly this comes from the wedding ring association with the heart vein.)

In many places (possibly without tall servers or extra attendants), the carecloth was draped over the shoulders of the couples, and was associated with them being equally yoked. This is probably where the term “carecloth” comes from, because bride and groom were supposed to share all their troubles and cares. (Giving the bride and groom a crucifix is similar, as a warning that there will be suffering and work for both, in imitation of Christ.)

Sometimes the veil was held high over their heads on one side, but pulled down at a diagonal slant behind the couple, to veil them from the congregation.

It occurs to me that the “velatio nuptialis” is yet another example of how the early and medieval Church really disliked marriages to occur without lots of witnesses. If you’ve got two servers or two attendants or two sponsors holding the veil high over the couple, that’s two more witnesses.

Also, it explains a lot of art motifs.

I like this mutual veiling idea. I like it very much. It’s Catholic, it’s equal in dignity, and it fills in a sort of gap in formality, without being expensive. If a parish church had its own carecloth, it could offer this to all couples. It’s not in the rubrics, but it’s also not forbidden.

The couple in the article seem to have made their carecloth from white linen, with some colored embroidery motifs. They also seem to have kept the cloth (which is understandable because it involved heirloom cloth), but obviously this is the sort of thing that one could donate to a church instead.

One more note — In the Middle Ages, if the couple were marrying after repenting of premarital fornication, and if a child or children had resulted, it was the legal custom in many places to legitimize the children by also putting them under the carecloth. (Laid down, carried, or kneeling there.) Obviously this was meant to remove all questions by doing everything in public and in a memorable way, but it also has a lot of dignity and beauty.

Obviously it’s better for people not to have sinned. But there is such a thing as repentance and forgiveness, and it’s a beautiful way for parents to formalize their new family, dedicating all the household to God, and making a public parental statement that is humble and dignified.

Now, the Sarum Rite was the rite in force when the Philippines were discovered, and the Filipino people never gave up the “couple’s wedding veil” or velo. Two sponsors drape the veil over the groom’s shoulders and the bride’s head. The medieval “red string” has become a white figure-eight cord that helps hold the velo in place, and represents the infinite nature love.

In Mexico, they don’t usually have the carecloth, but they do have a cord — a giant set of two linked rosaries looped around the couple’s heads.

This may be related to the old old custom of binding the bride and groom’s hands with a wedding cord, or with the priest’s stole, which is associated with betrothal and marriage.

Another interesting article about the religious meaning and ancient Christian nature of Western marriage customs, including “a sixpence in her shoe.” This has pictures of carecloth use.

In this article, there is also evidence of Christian brides being veiled at their betrothal ceremony, and receiving a formal blessing from their bishop or priest. This was taken seriously enough that, if a Christian girl had been betrothed and the betrothal fell through due to death, the girl still could not receive the “conjugalis velatio” and the nuptial blessing at her wedding to another, at least according to early Western canon law.

The article also has the quote from St. Ambrose, with wording indicating that the veiling was _of the marriage_, not of the bride and/or the groom, but of the joint new thing. He calls it “velamen sacerdotalis,” priestly veiling, or literally, sacrifice-giver veiling.

Medieval names for the carecloth included “velamen caeleste” (heavenly veil – possibly associated with sky blue as a carecloth color), “pallium album” (white cloak, silver cloak), “velum”, “linteus” (linen cloth), “pannum” (cloth, garment), and “mappa” (cloth napkin). Carecloth’s etymology may be from carre (Fr. cloth square) or carde (ME fabric used for curtains).

This article views the “yoke over the shoulders” form as tons and tons older than the “veil held over heads” model. They all sound good, though.

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Probably This Isn’t Fair

The late Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., seems to be one of the reasons that the Jesuits declined so fast, so far. Bad stuff happened when he was running the Society of Jesus, so logically it’s his fault. And he let them keep electing him for almost twenty years, so it’s definitely his fault. And when you see Jesuit websites talking about “the renewal of the Society” (when it’s almost gone) and “the second founding” (when he drove it into the ground)… well, it just makes you want to lose your cookies.


And part of the reason he seems to have gotten power in the Society was that he was in Japan when the bombs were dropped. He was from a neutral country, he was associated with the Jesuits of Nagasaki who miraculously survived, and he seems to me to have milked it for the rest of his life.

And yes, maybe this isn’t fair. But he’s the kind of guy who didn’t just learn Zen meditation so that he could understand and do Buddhist outreach. He’s the kind of guy who kept doing it to the point of disregarding his own Jesuit traditions of meditative prayer.

And then he’s the kind of guy who not only decided to meditate upside-down in a headstand, but also who publicizes his headstand meditation.

If he were a goofy guy who didn’t seek power, you’d understand it as just a thing he did, just exploration and quirkiness. But he’s the kind of guy who got power, held onto power for 18 years, and wrote cruddy books about his new idea for the Jesuits being better than that of his founder. The whole thing just screams, “I want to be quirky as a power play.”


Arrupe supposedly coined the term that Jesuits were “men for others.” Actually, it’s a phrase from Bonhoeffer about Jesus… but let’s not be intellectually honest and correct a misquote. A misquote on every freaking Jesuit university webpage I can find is not a technicality. It’s on purpose.

Jesuits are supposed to be men for Jesus, soldiers under His command. Now, that would entail doing things for others, also… but military service is icky, so we can’t use that as an analogy. Even if it’s been working for the Benedictines for 1600 years or so.

Apologies to any good Jesuits out there who liked the guy, but… bleh.


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Pope Francis at Sastin National Shrine, Slovakia

Finally, finally, I’m watching a dignified Mass during a Pope visit. Boy, this is unusual for papal visits. Usually the music is terrible, the vestments are terrible, and so on.

This time, it’s a competent orchestra and a really good Slovakian choir. Wearing nice, sharp suits and dresses, like normal people at a formal occasion.

The occasion is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, something that Slovakia knows something about.

“Shashtin” would be the English spelling, I guess.

Amusingly, it turns out that Bishop Marini is still needed as papal MC, even though he was supposedly banished off to a tiny diocese with a fairly bad lack of vocations.

Gorgeous psalm setting sung gorgeously by the cantor.


This is a partial “canon” setting. Basically, there’s a verse in male chant, a verse in female chant with organ, and then a harmony/counterpoint verse with all voices. (For those who don’t know, there are some difficulties with doing chants in some ranges with both male and female voices because it’s less… impressive. This is a good way of getting past that.)

HAHAHAH! Orchestral Celtic Alleluia setting that is ridiculously better than usual! French horns! Kettledrums! Good trumpets!

And then the choir just does a darned good job. Antiphon setting that basically says “We ignore the Celtic Alleluia, in favor of setting the propers text,” and then brings it back around to the chorus, very gracefully, with extra harmonies. Hahahahahaha!

Look, I know this sort of thing may seem nitpicky. But if you love doing something to honor God, and you do it every week, you should be doing it well. You should be using best practices, not worst practices or stupid practices. You should be able to show your heart for Him.

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EWTN 9/11 Memorial Mass

For some reason, the EWTN Mass today is showing up as “unlisted” on YouTube. So here’s a link.

As usual, EWTN’s choir and music direction was amazing and on point for the occasion. The propers are appropriate too.

Later today, there will be a 10:30 memorial Mass for firefighters at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. So I’ll link it here now. Here’s a link to their Mass from this morning.

(Okay, that link to the firefighter Mass is going to Cardinal Dolan’s ecumenical memorial service this afternoon, for some reason. Not finding the firefighter Mass livestream at all. Sorry.)

If you need a big organ and a big New York solemnity, this channel is what you want. All Cathedral Masses today are being offered for the 2996.

And because we need to remember the other September 11, I’m linking Sabaton’s “Winged Hussars” song, about how Poland’s cavalry arrived unlooked-for, just when Vienna was about to fall.

Eternal rest grant upon them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.


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Project 2996: Philip M. Rosenzweig

How can you capture a man in a paragraph or two?

The New York Times profile says that he was the reliable, methodical one in the family, who always remembered tasks and always got them done.

But he was also the sportscar guy in the family, who managed to buy himself a Porsche.

He was a vice president at Sun Microsystems. Today, that innovative company no longer exists; it was acquired in 2010 by Oracle.

He died on Flight 11. His home was in Acton, Massachusetts.

Three months later, his company’s stock price fell to $100, as part of the general dotcom bubble collapse. He wasn’t there to help or be hurt.

We live in a time when many tech companies are unbelievably corrupt, when voicing an opinion is worthy of cancellation, where being male or having Jewish heritage is an automatic mark against you. Mr. Rosenzweig isn’t suffering from that, but he also didn’t get to help fight against that.

He would have retired three years ago, to drive his Porsche and enjoy his family, but he missed that too.

I don’t know his religion or heritage, but I pray for him; and I hope he is in a position to pray for us.

The Ashkenazi surname Rosenzweig means “rose twig.” It refers to people whose shop sign showed a little sprig of roses. And roses mean love – the beauty and the thorn.

He was survived by his wife and two sons.

Here is his widow, Lauren Rosenzweig Morton, speaking on September 11, 2018, at an Acton, Massachusetts 9/11 memorial service. (The sound is not good, and the service took place outside, so you’ll have to turn it up.) Part 1. Part 2. She also mentions the Sweeneys.

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Project 2996 Postings

David Seima Aoyama / AOYAMA Seima/ AOYAMA David Seima / 青山 世磨, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11.

Brian E. Martineau, a businessman at the World Trade Center.

Dora Marie Menchaca, a passenger on Flight 77.

Sanae Mori /MORI Sanae/ 森早苗 , who was attending a business meeting at the World Trade Center.

James P. O’Brien, a trader at Cantor-Fitzgerald at the World Trade Center.

Myrna Yaskulka, an executive secretary at the World Trade Center.

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Project 2996: Missing Post for Heather Lee Smith

When the old Neptunus Lex blog was still running, before the blog owner passed away, he did a Project 2996 post, in memory of Heather Lee Smith.

His blog was moved and reposted by his friends, so his Heather Lee Smith post from September 11, 2006 is still extant.

Five Years On (Project 2996: Heather Lee Smith)

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LOTR Insight

The reason Faramir could resist the Ring was that he’d spent his entire life in Denethor’s house, getting mentally yelled at, with all of Denethor’s strong Numenorean will and mental powers.

Boromir didn’t get this inadvertent training, because Denethor got along with his eldest.

So Denethor’s being a telepathic pain in the butt and a danger to his household probably saved Faramir’s life, while being too much like his Palantir-gullible dad probably killed his beloved Boromir.

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Fatima Stuff III

If people want to understand Fatima, you’re supposed to be familiar with the whole European popular devotion milieu in which it came to be. It has a lot of connections to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque’s visions calling for more Sacred Heart devotions (the devotion already existed, btw), and for France and the world to be consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She also was told to ask people to receive Communion on nine First Fridays of the month, in honor of the Sacred Heart, much as Mary asked at Fatima for people to receive communion on five First Saturdays.

(Alacoque was a much more interesting person than the holy cards make her out to be. She was a farmgirl, smart and kind, and was assigned to be a novicemistress at her convent for many years. Like a lot of convent visionaries, she had longterm visions on the one hand, and lived a very practical normal convent life on the other hand. Her visions were eventually publicized but her identity kept secret during her lifetime.)

The fact that the three kids were shepherds, and that they had visions including Hell and divine punishments, led to an immediate comparison to the apparitions of Our Lady at La Salette, in France, right before bad events like the potato famine. The two kids at La Salette had a disastrous adult life, being celebrated and vilified, and themselves having a lot of trouble finding a place in life. St. Bernadette and Sr. Lucia were both hidden from the press and the public to prevent similar events disrupting their lives.

And of course, there’s a comparison to St. Bernadette and the apparitions at Lourdes.

That said, I have a feeling that there are also lots of connections to rural Portuguese devotional life, which are largely hidden from us. Sarah Hoyt often talks about how different areas of Portugal have totally different traditions, to the point of being almost separate countries. Sr. Lucia’s memoirs do talk a lot about her mother’s work as a lay catechist with the neighbor kids, and I wish we knew more about that. What are the local saints and festivals that were important to the people Lucia knew? I don’t know.

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Fatima Stuff II

So I’ve been reading Kevin Symonds’ Fatima book, and it seems to be pretty good. He did a ton load of research, and spends a lot of time tracking down where various erroneous ideas about Fatima come from. And yup, urban legends have multiplied while I haven’t been paying attention, but some of them have been around since the 1940’s or earlier.

Most of them seem to come from, “This dude speculated something, and everybody else took it as gospel truth.” There’s also, “This dude didn’t know Portuguese and didn’t record what Sr. Lucia said, even though it’s known that she had a thing for evading intrusive questions, through exact wording of her replies. But he’s sure he remembers accurately, even though his story changed down the years!”

You get the idea that a lot of people were not particularly interested in Sr. Lucia as a person, or even in other people in general. Theory is everything, and trumps reality. Since she was a person from another generation and from the Portuguese countryside, and since she also had a deeper understanding of God than most of these guys, everything she said seems to have whooshed over their heads, and been replaced by their own thoughts, hopes, and fears.

Later on, you get people disappointed that Lucia chose to be a Carmelite in the mold of St. Therese of Lisieux, a stay at home visionary, instead of someone in the mold of St. Teresa of Avila, bustling around. Apparently she should be living a vocation from them, instead of her own vocation.

It’s very frustrating.

Of course, it comes from a place of insecurity turned into zeal. People want somebody they can trust, who has mystical knowledge, and who is also an action hero. Well, too bad. The message of Fatima is to pray and make reparations yourself, and to let others know. It was not to wait around for Sr. Lucia to save your lazy butt with magical powers, while all the villains suddenly turn penitent.

I mean, the fall of the Soviet Union was pretty darned good results for those actually praying the Rosary daily, but obviously the last few years have shown that the errors of Communism are still having a lot of success ruining our days. Obviously slackers like myself cannot put this all on mysterious baddies thwarting Fatima by hiding secret messages, but apparently a lot of people would rather have this be the problem.

Anyhow, the local Coimbra Carmelites’ biography of Sr. Lucia, A Pathway under the Gaze of Mary, came out in English a few years back, and it is apparently full of good good information from her unpublished papers, as well as interpretation by the women who knew her best as an adult. And hoboy, what a difference it makes, to know who the heck you’re talking about. So I’m going to buy that book before inflation hits; but if you’ve got Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free.

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Fatima Stuff

Watched an interview with Kevin Symonds on the Reason and Theology YT channel. I wasn’t too interested in the political stuff. Frankly I don’t expect a lot of knowledge of the history and status of apparitions to be accurate among bishops, unless it’s something the bishop has personally had to deal with.

(And the same thing is true of most stuff with picky internal details, however important the details are. The kind of person who advances to become a bishop or a manager is not the kind of person who does detail work or memorizes historical details. There are exceptions, but not many.)

Mr. Symonds has a book out about the Third Secret, which apparently takes the amazing radical approach of _dealing with the text_, as it stands, _in Portuguese_. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this is important. OTOH, he also reproves people for thinking the vision of the mountain was all about St. JPII, when it has broader application to all the suffering and death caused by Communism, and all of its anti-Christian actions. I’ve been meaning to check out his book, and now I’m going to do it.

Anyhoo, I watch this stuff for spiritual and prayer information. But usually apparitions stuff devolves into keeping updated on shady unapproved apparitions and crazy conspiracy theories, because it’s very seldom that anybody on YT has time to present actual spiritual and prayer information about apparitions. That’s what we have EWTN for.

The current crazy conspiracy is the “Sr. Lucia’s double” theory, which is how you get around Sr. Lucia refusing to go along with other crazy conspiracy theories. See, it wasn’t her; it was a double! Bleh. As Mr. Symonds said, it’s not just ridiculous; it’s also insulting to everyone at the convent and to Lucia’s family.

Amazingly, women can look different on different days, if they have a tendency to bloat and be chunky, but also do a lot of Carmelite fasting. Also, women can look different at different ages, especially if they get different pairs of glasses or have dentistry or dental surgery done.

I get tired of this junk emerging. If people have time for crazy theories, they have time to say another Rosary or help a neighbor. Prayer and good works are more helpful for the world.

OTOH, we live in a world where lies and coverups have caused a lot of distrust, so you can’t really blame people for worrying.

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St. Bedelia?

Bedelia is an Irish name — a form of Brigid or Bridget — and still gets a fair amount of use in Ireland. Bédélia, or more commonly, Bédélie, is also a French female name. Bedelia is an uncommon English and American name, and there’s an even more uncommon spelling of Bedellie.

The idea was to make a more Latinate form of Brigid, which was a fashionable thing to do to names in the 1700’s and 1800’s — and that might be why “Biddy” is a nickname for Brigid or Brid. Bidina is a similar name.

“Delia” or “Dellie” is an Irish nickname for Bidelia; and Deena is an Irish nickname for Bidina. But there are tons of Brigid nicknames: Bride and Bridey, Breed and Breedeen, Brigg, Berett, Birgit and Birkit, Gitta, etc….

There’s also a genus of leaf beetles called Bedelia, but that’s because they were discovered by a guy with the surname Bedel. The French cyclecar Bédélia was derived from the B and D initials of its inventors.

Anyway, “bedelio” is also the Spanish word for “bdellium,” a fragrant resin that comes in different colors, but which apparently was most prized by Israel in a white form. Hence the alternative translations explaining that manna was “the color of frost” or “the color of bdellium.” So if you really really love the name…

I think the name probably won’t ever get that popular again, in English-speaking countries, because it includes the syllable, “bed,” which is bound to lead to teasing or harassment; and because Biddy isn’t fashionable at present. (Which is funny, because Bitty and Bitsy are still reasonably popular nicknames for Elizabeth, at least in Kentucky.)

Brigid was of course the famous nun saint of Kildare. Her name has the “bri-” particle that means tall or high or hill. It means something like “eminent.” (The “breo-saighid,” “fiery arrow” etymology is just medieval poetic stuff done for fun.)

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Maybe You Should Mention This…

Found out recently that the reason people aren’t supposed to eat after midnight before surgery is… because anesthetic can make all the sphincter muscles in your body let go, and your stomach contents could back up into your throat and kill you.

Isn’t this something that should be explained more clearly?

Found out tonight that the reason people aren’t supposed to do much when they catch mono is… because your liver or spleen could rupture for no good reason, at any time, until you get well. And a ruptured organ could kill you.

I mean, I know plenty of people who got mono as kids, and nobody said, “Oh, hey, watch out they don’t rupture their livers or spleens!”

I mean, I understand you don’t want to be a Debbie Downer or cause panic. But on the other hand, if you’re old enough to have friends catching dangerous diseases, maybe people should let you know what’s going on?


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