The Humeral Veil is one of the liturgical vestments of the Roman Rite, also used in some Anglican and Lutheran churches. It consists of a piece of cloth about 2.75 m long and 90 cm wide draped over the shoulders and down the front, normally of silk or cloth of gold. At the ends there are sometimes pockets in the back for hands to go into so that the wearer can hold items without touching them with the hands.
There is no clarity on when the humeral veil first appeared, though it was certainly in use in the continental Tridentine Rite and in other pre-Reformation usages including the Sarum Rite. The humeral veil is of the liturgical colour of the day on which it is used, or else is white or cloth of gold. There is no black humeral veil as the ritual for Requiem masses, which are the only masses at which black vestments are worn in the Roman Rite, does not require it. (The exception to this is the Dominican Rite which has a number of distinctive liturgical customs.)
It is most often seen during the liturgy of Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. When the priest or deacon blesses the people with the monstrance, he covers his hands with the ends of the veil so that his hands do not touch the monstrance, as a mark of respect for the sacred vessel and as an indication that it is Jesus present in the Eucharistic species who blesses the people and not the minister.
The humeral veil is also seen at the Mass of the Lord's Supper when the Ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament is taken in procession to the place of reposition, and again when it is brought back to the altar without solemnity during the Good Friday service. In the High Mass form of Tridentine Mass, the subdeacon uses a humeral veil when carrying the chalice, paten, or other sacred vessels, which should be touched only by the deacon or another person in major orders.