This Is The Real Reason Why We Cover Crucifixes And Statues During Lent


Every year, Catholics around the world mark the season of Lent—a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance, leading up to the celebration of Easter. But have you ever walked into a church during this season and wondered why the crucifixes, statues, and other religious images are veiled or covered? This article aims to shed light on this centuries-old custom, explore its theological significance, and understand its role in the modern Catholic Church.

Biblical Foundation of Lent

First off, let’s touch upon the roots of Lent in the Bible. The number 40 is significant. Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:28). Elijah fasted for 40 days (1 Kings 19:8). Jesus, too, fasted for 40 days in the desert, where he was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11). Lent, which lasts for 40 days, is thus seen as a period of preparation and purification, paralleling these biblical events.

The Practice of Veiling: An Overview

The custom of veiling crucifixes, statues, and other sacred images usually begins on the fifth Sunday of Lent, often referred to as “Passion Sunday.” In some places, the practice starts earlier, on Ash Wednesday, or later, during Holy Week. Veiling lasts until the Easter Vigil, when the covers are removed to reveal the glory of the Resurrection.

Liturgical Significance

A Focus on Christ’s Passion

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that, during Lent, “the liturgy prepares the catechumens to celebrate the Paschal mystery by successive stages” (CCC 1095). In this context, veiling crucifixes and images serves as a liturgical symbol to emphasize the solemnity and penitential nature of the season. The act of covering them draws our attention toward the passion, suffering, and death of Jesus Christ.

Sensory Simplicity

Veiling also serves a practical purpose. By limiting the sensory stimulation we get from the church’s visual elements, we are more easily drawn into an interior, contemplative state. We are encouraged to “turn off the noise” and focus on our inner relationship with God, emphasizing prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Unity with the Universal Church

This practice is not just a cultural or local phenomenon; it aligns with the universal teachings of the Catholic Church. Veiling is recommended in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which governs the celebration of Mass around the world. So when you see veiled images, know that you are participating in a global expression of faith.

Theological Depth

A Reminder of the ‘Hidden’ God

Veiling can also be seen as a reminder of how God often remains ‘hidden’ in our lives, especially when we are going through trials. Scripture often refers to the “hiddenness” of God, as in Isaiah 45:15: “Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.”

In Anticipation of the Resurrection

Just as Christ was hidden in the tomb before His glorious Resurrection, the veiled images remind us that there’s a ‘big reveal’ coming. We cover these images not to forget them but in anticipation of unveiling them in the joy of Easter. The Catechism reminds us that Easter is not simply one feast among others but the “Feast of feasts,” the “Solemnity of solemnities” (CCC 1169).

Common Misconceptions

It’s Not About ‘Hiding’ From God

Some people mistake the veiling as a way to hide from God’s gaze or to indicate that God is turning away from us. This is not in line with Church teaching. God is always with us, even in our times of trial. “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

It’s Not a Form of Idolatry

Another misconception is that Catholics worship these images, and veiling them is a way to prevent idolatry. The Church clearly teaches that we don’t worship the images themselves but use them as a means to direct our thoughts to God or the saints (CCC 2132).


The practice of veiling crucifixes and statues during Lent is a rich tradition steeped in liturgical and theological significance. It serves to remind us of the penitential nature of Lent, focus our senses and thoughts on Christ’s Passion, and deepen our understanding of the “hidden” aspects of God’s presence in our lives.

As with many aspects of Catholic tradition, veiling is not an end in itself but a means to draw us closer to God. So, the next time you walk into a veiled church during Lent, take it as an invitation to enter more deeply into the mysteries of our faith.

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Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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