People usually wear their wedding ring on their fourth finger, but the hand on which it is worn varies from place to place.
People usually wear their wedding ring on their fourth finger, which in fact is usually called the “ring finger” precisely for that reason. But the hand on which the wedding ring is worn varies from country to country. That’s right; depending on customs and traditions, in the Catholic world, the wedding ring can be worn on either the left or right hand.
In ancient times, in the time of Hippocrates, Greek doctors believed that the fourth finger of the left hand was directly connected to the heart, because of the veins that surrounded it (and still surround it), one of which was called the “vein of love” (vena amoris). What better place, therefore, than this finger – the left ring finger – to symbolize the union and love of two people?
That’s why in the Western world most people wear their wedding rings on their left hand, even though science has long since established that there’s nothing special about the veins in the ring finger on the left hand.
While in the United States, Canada, Portugal, France, Italy, Slovakia, Switzerland, Croatia and Slovenia, among others, married couples wear their wedding rings on their left hand, in Ukraine, Poland, Spain, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and even Cuba, wedding rings are placed on the ring finger of the right hand. The right hand is preferred in some places because the Bible describes that side of the body as the better part: “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power – your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy.” (Ex. 15:6)
Is there a right or wrong answer?
Fr. Rev. Pierre-Marie Castaignos, who regularly works with engaged couples, told us, “There is no theological pronouncement on this fact. Left hand, right hand … It’s not the hand that bears the ring that is symbolic, but the ring itself.”
The rings have their own strong symbolism: they are a symbol of nuptial fidelity which, in the sacrament of marriage, takes on its own meaning in relation to the mystery of God’s fidelity to his people in Christ. One of the formulas that the priest can use to bless the rings of the bride and groom reads:
Lord, bless these rings which we bless in your name.
Grant that those who wear them
may always have a deep faith in each other.
May they do your will
and always live together
in peace, good will, and love.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
And so it matters little, after all, which hand bears the wedding ring: “What matters is to bear it as a symbol of the commitment, love, and fidelity of the spouses.”