Are statues and crucifixes supposed to be veiled from the fifth Sunday of Lent until Good Friday? If the crucifixes aren't veiled, what is the point
of having an unveiling on Good Friday?
According to the Sacramentary, "The practice of covering crosses and images in the church
may be observed, if the episcopal conference decides. The crosses are to be covered until the end of the celebration of the Lord's
passion on Good Friday. Images are to remain covered until the beginning of the Easter vigil."
This statement allows the veiling of statues and crucifixes if the Episcopal conference votes in favor of the practice.
In a 1995 issue of the Bishop's Committee on the Liturgy Newsletter (official publication for the liturgical committee of the United States), it was stated that
the US bishops had never voted on this provision so in the United States at least, this practice is not to be done.
The Sacramentary also states that following the Holy Thursday Mass "the altar is stripped and, if possible, the crosses are removed from the church. It is
desirable to cover any crosses which remain in the church."
In 1988 the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship issued Paschale Solemnitatis, a new document on the Easter feasts. According to this document, "It is fitting that any crosses in the church be covered with
a red or purple veil, unless they have already been veiled on the Saturday before the fifth Sunday of Lent." (n. 57)
This leaves the decision to cover the crucifixes in the church up to the individual parishes but strongly encourages this tradition.
Even though the veiling of crucifixes is highly recommended and not mandatory, it does not make liturgical
sense to have the unveiling of the crucifix on Good Friday if the crucifixes were never covered in the first place.
According to the Ceremonial of Bishops, there are two forms of veneration for Good Friday. The first is the one most often seen where the
crucifix is unveiled in steps. The second form is a procession from the church entrance to the sanctuary with an unveiled crucifix.
This would be the proper form to use if the crucifixes in the church had never been veiled.