Covering Images for Passiontide

By tradition, the 5th Sunday of Lent is known as the 1st Sunday of the Passion, meaning that we have entered Passiontide.  The older practice is to cover statues and images for all of Passiontide (as opposed to just at the end of Holy Thursday mass when the altar is stripped).  As Fr. Z states in his inimitable style:

In the Gospel in traditional Form of the Roman Rite we hear:

Tulérunt ergo lápides, ut iácerent in eum: Iesus autem abscóndit se, et exívit de templo. …

They therefore took up stones to cast at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out from the temple.

And so, on this Sunday, the Church traditionally hides the Lord and other images with veils, usually purple.

This is a fine old tradition. It has to do with deprivation of the senses and the liturgical dying of the Church in preparation for the Lord’s tomb and resurrection. We do this to sense something of the humiliation of the Lord as he enters His Passion, something of His interior suffering.

We are also being pruned during Lent. From Septuagesima onward we lose things bit by bit in the Church’s sacred liturgy until, at the Vigil, we are even deprived of light itself. The Church is liturgically dying.

We’ve adopted this practice in our home, especially since our parish adheres to this tradition, and, in fact, Father’s homily in the 1st Sunday of the Month TLM discussed it as a good thing to do at home.

But how do you do it?  Covers aren’t that difficult to sew for something that’s pretty straight, maybe with a bit of a flare as you approach the bottom; that is, for most statues.  You simply trace a rough outline, add a bit for seams, cut out two, and sew together.  In my experience, finishing the seams is optional since you turn it inside out and it only goes on and off once a year.  You could also get more technical and basically draft a pattern, but that seems a little much.  Draping a cloth is also an option.

Holy water fonts or other things that are hung on the wall, especially from the top, just need a gap in the seam to allow the hanger through.

Crosses and crucifixes, though, can be a challenge, especially if you want more of a diamond shape than a pentagon, that is, if you want the covering to more closely follow the outline of the cross than you would get if you just draped cloth over it.  The trick is to cut a slit in the back so that you can insert the cross and fold the cloth over it.  It looks something like this:


Back piece on the left with the slit cut in it.


After sewing front and back together


Slit in the back all the way up to the nail hole


Cross in place on the wall

See, not too difficult.  This took me all of 20 minutes, mainly because I measured wrong to begin with.  The slit goes all the way up to the nail hole; if you aren’t putting it on the wall, the slit can go just to the cross beam.

A simple way to have the domestic church mirror what the Church herself is doing to help us prepare for Easter.