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The two weeks of Passiontide begin today signifying the entrance into this more intense time of Lenten preparation and mediation on the Lord’s passion. Mass begins by praying the Great Litany, spoken at the 8:00 AM Mass and chanted in procession at the 10:15 AM Mass. Also the last remnants of the Glory be disappear from the introit which is chanted during the first incensing of the altar.
Today statues, Crucifixes, and other sacred images are veiled with purple cloth, and they remain covered until the Gloria of Holy Saturday, at which point Lent ends and Eastertide begins — a most glorious, beautiful moment in the Church’s liturgy. Some Catholics cover statues and icons, etc., in their homes for the same time period (the cloth shouldn’t be translucent or decorated in any way). Like the disappearance of the Gloria, this heightened visual penance of veiling of statues and icons stems from Jesus’ actions following the Gospel reading of this Sunday: “he departed and hid himself from them” (Jn 12:36). In Rome following Passion Sunday Vespers, the veil used by St. Veronica to wipe the Face of Christ when he walked the Via Dolorossa (the Sorrowful Path) on his way to His Crucifixion is displayed for a few moments. The veil — known as the “Veronica” — is kept hidden away in a special chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica, and only on Passion Sunday is it shown to the world as bells peal.