gremiale-embroidery3Well, I have left the two rarest of the veils till last. If anyone has either of these in their sacristy- please do share a photo with us.  The photo at the left is an ornamental gremial veil, which is worn rather like an apron by a Bishop or Archbishop conferring Orders.  It is purely ornamental in this case and you can see it is not utilitarian in any sense.  There is however another type of gremial veil worn during the anointing at Confirmation.  Sometimes a large amice is substituted upon the lap of the Bishop. The purpose of this veil is to protect the vestments of the Bishop, therefore it should be made of plain white linen or cotton (linen is preferred), and is rarely ornamented.  I have seen the faldstool at St. John’s Bowdoin Street in Boston http://stjev.org/ and it is when the Bishop is seated on the faldstool at the center, ready to receive those about to be confirmed or received, that the gremial veil is spread upon the lap. This is usually done by an attendant of the bishop or the Master of Ceremonies. Never seen a faldstool?  They come both plain and fancy and faldstoolare very convenient for the bishop.  If your parish does not have one, they are easy enough to make if you have a talented carpenter parishioner in your midst.  The original style has no armrests although modified ones are also seen. .  There is an excellent article on the gremial (or gremiale) in Roman Catholic usage, including a photo of Pope Benedict wearing a silk one at this link http://www.templestudy.com/2009/03/20/gremiale-apronlike-catholic-liturgical-vestment/comment-page-1/ I have seen the substitution of a large amice at Confirmation in place of the gremial in several churches in the state. Another thoughtful consideration is to have a small tray containing water in a lavabo bowl and small wedges of fresh cut lemon and a fine linen lavabo towel at the ready near at hand for the bishop to wash off the chrism oil at the end of the anointing.  Want to make a gremial veil? It should be about 2 feet wide and 3 feet long.


Pius IX’s very fancy faldstool.

Finally, my last word on veils- I would daresay that there is not a communion rail veil in the state. This long, narrow, embroidered and sometimes lace-adorned linen is fairly obsolete in the United States.  Once I thought I had found one in East Greenwich but it turned out to be a very long fair linen. As the name implies, this veil covered the altar rail (also an item seen more rarely) to catch crumbs and drops of consecrated elements.  Here is a photo-and the only one I have ever seen.  Although we may never have an occasion for some of the items mentioned recently, any good sacristan ought to know the terms and history of all sacristy equipment, past and present.

veiled communion rail