If there was a secondary dress code to last night's Met Gala — Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination — it was to bring your most ornate headpieces. As anticipated, the red carpet saw a tizzy of veils, headdresses, halos, and crowns. And while all of them weaved into the suggested "Sunday Best" attire quite well, crowns actually have a bit less to do with religion than we suspect most of the attendees realized.
From Elizabethan collars to battle-ready chainmail, we observed a frequent, confusing mixing of Catholicism with medieval representations of western royalty. An easy mistake, since it was long thought that kings, queens, and the like were God-appointed and holy anointed. Lest we forget, the Catholic Church and royal families coexisted for many centuries, until English playboy King Henry VIII shook the world into a Church-and-State divide. (The complicated circumstances surrounded Henry VIII's first and second marriages, and the execution of his second wife Anne Boleyn, helped lead to the English Reformation, and the break between the British throne and the Roman Catholic Church.)
Apart from the Messiah's (a.k.a. Jesus) literally iconic crown of thorns and popular paintings and depictions of the coronation of the Virgin Mary, crowns have been absent from the general Catholic congregation. Historically, the opulent headpieces have been left to those deemed God's terrestrial right hands — kings and queens. Arguably the Pope's (another recognized God-appointed figure) papal tiara falls under that same category – but the papal crown worn by Rihanna last night is typically only worn during a coronation. Aside from that, we've never caught a saint, bishop, nun, or even our devout grandmother sporting a crown in reverence to their religion.
So what do crowns have to do with Catholicism? It's a holy symbol that glorifies God as the one true king. But what do crowns have to do with actual Catholics? TBH, very little. But we use the word "queen" (not to mention "kween") enough – and these women from last night, we say, deserve the title.