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  #1  
Old Dec 15, '09, 5:40 pm
Sister_Leocadia Sister_Leocadia is offline
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Question Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

My question is, which order had (or maybe still has) the most elaborate habit?

There is a reason I ask...I saw a picture of one of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent De Paul with the huge bonnets and I talked with my superior and asked her about her habit when she first became a nun....

My superior, Mother Scholastica made sure that when she started our order that the habit and the veil were plain and modest but also simple to get on and off and clean.

When I asked her why she chose our habits she told me that when she joined an order at the age of 16, the habit they wore was incredibly elaborate with a huge veil and a bonnet with tight frills all the way around it. The bonnet was in a rectangle shape and stuck out so she could only see what was directly in front of her. Her superior told her it was traditional and to do with custody of the eyes but Mother told me it was like being a horse with blinkers on.

Her habit was almost like a gown, with huge full sleeves and a skirt that was so long that she was always holding it up at the front when she went upstairs and up at the back when she went down so it didn't get worn out at the hems.

All the novices had to starch the bonnets and it took them an hour to do each bonnet with some sort of special tool. With 30 sisters in the order, it took them hours. Mother always said that she was so cross that she had to do all that starching when she could have been doing something more useful, though they all continually prayer the Rosary while they did it, so it wasn't a complete waste of time!
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  #2  
Old Dec 15, '09, 6:48 pm
anode anode is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sister_Leocadia View Post
My question is, which order had (or maybe still has) the most elaborate habit?

There is a reason I ask...I saw a picture of one of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent De Paul with the huge bonnets and I talked with my superior and asked her about her habit when she first became a nun....

My superior, Mother Scholastica made sure that when she started our order that the habit and the veil were plain and modest but also simple to get on and off and clean.

When I asked her why she chose our habits she told me that when she joined an order at the age of 16, the habit they wore was incredibly elaborate with a huge veil and a bonnet with tight frills all the way around it. The bonnet was in a rectangle shape and stuck out so she could only see what was directly in front of her. Her superior told her it was traditional and to do with custody of the eyes but Mother told me it was like being a horse with blinkers on.

Her habit was almost like a gown, with huge full sleeves and a skirt that was so long that she was always holding it up at the front when she went upstairs and up at the back when she went down so it didn't get worn out at the hems.

All the novices had to starch the bonnets and it took them an hour to do each bonnet with some sort of special tool. With 30 sisters in the order, it took them hours. Mother always said that she was so cross that she had to do all that starching when she could have been doing something more useful, though they all continually prayer the Rosary while they did it, so it wasn't a complete waste of time!
I am sorry for the loss of your cat. Twenty years is a very long life for a cat, and he was fortunate to have you at the last. Maybe you can get another. Cats are very companionable and much easier to take care of than a dog--we have both. Old cats fill the shelters and really need homes.

The Srs of St. Elizabeth had a very cumbersome habit with a rectangular fluted bonnet which must have been difficult to maintain. The BVM's of the Middle West had an elaborate horseshoe-shaped thing around their face and a large 3-sided box overall and a huge skirt with a myriad of fine pleats. I can't imagine how they maintained this rig. Some habits, like the Srs. of the Presentation, had a huge white guimpe, or bib--I don't know how they managed to keep it clean. The Grey Nuns, like the Daughters of Charity had a habit based on their 17th c. origins- very elaborate with a peaked bonnet and an elaborate black transparent veil, also full capes and a pleated skirt, all in wool serge, I think. It was beautiful, but must have been very difficult to maintain. Nurses couldn't wear it in the ORs as it wasn't felt to be sufficiently clean. I always liked the DC's large cornet, but I think that it must have been very heavy, also hard to maintain and hot---all that starch!
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  #3  
Old Dec 15, '09, 6:52 pm
anode anode is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

Another note--many orders, especially 19th c. French orders, had a fluted headdress which required a special tool to shape and starch it, as you mentioned in your original post. When I visited the Society of the Sacred Heart years ago, the RSCJ, I was told that it took two hours to flute one bonnet and the choir nuns changed them once a week. Who did the fluting-- the lay nuns, who wore a simpler headdress. Of course, Vat II changed all that, removing the choir/lay distinction. The RSCJ simplified their habit and then got rid of it.
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  #4  
Old Dec 16, '09, 4:29 am
HOLYHEARTS HOLYHEARTS is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

I went to boarding school for almost 8 years on Staten Island (a boro of NYC) at
St. Joseph Hill Academy. The Sisters there were Daughters of Divine Charity & they had a round fluted headpiece. A machine was used to flute the pieces; but all had to be
bleached first & then startched. The bleaching caused the pieces to turn out varying tones
of white. Now since two pieces of fluting were required for each bonnet, the Sisters had
to run around & try to find matching white pieces thus requiring trading off w/fellow-Sisters.
The sewing of the bonnet was a delicate process & since not all Sisters were delicate nor
had the time, the bonnet sewing was relegated to a "chosen few"....The Sisters had
box-shaped pleated veils (difficult to explain)....They are also located in the UK, Sister;
but they have all (around the world) modified their habit. They were founded in Austria
by the Servant of God Franciska Lechner around the early 1800s. The years I spent w/them are among my fondest memories!
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  #5  
Old Dec 16, '09, 10:12 am
Sister_Leocadia Sister_Leocadia is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

This picture is of Maria Grazia Tarallo aka Blessed Maria of the Passion. The habit is incredibly rich in colour, quite elaborate as it seems to be made up of several garments and has pictures of what look like a monstrance on it. It also has a red cross on top of the veil. I wonder how they kept it from fading?

http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Su...a_Passione.jpg
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  #6  
Old Dec 21, '09, 12:54 pm
Cloisters Cloisters is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

The emblems are either embroidered or silk-screened. In the case of monstrances and large signs, such are now made of plastic and sometimes velcro'd onto the habit.

We have the aforementioned habit on our Cloister Outreach website:

http://cloisters.tripod.com/

We also offer the religious habit yahoo group:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thereligioushabit/

Blessings,
Cloisters

Last edited by Cloisters; Dec 21, '09 at 12:58 pm. Reason: omission
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  #7  
Old Dec 24, '09, 12:13 am
Carmeltie Hemit Carmeltie Hemit is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

Dear Sister Leocadia,

What order do you belong to? You have my interest Piqued!

As A Carmelite, we did not have very elaborate Habits. In fact, when i became a Carmelite hermit. I modifed my habit sans toque with modified veil. I found keeping the modified veil in place such a nuisence that i returned to wearing the touque and traditonal veil and now do not have to constantly fuss over keeping my veil in place! Deo Gratias!

Merry Christmas!

A Carmelite Hermit
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  #8  
Old Dec 24, '09, 5:16 pm
Sancta Rosa Sancta Rosa is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

I have a small number of books written by New Zealand Sisters' and one thing that they report was how much effort went into maintaining their old style habits. One Sister told how that all of Saturday was spent in preparing their habit and head dress/veil for the coming week. This was certainly one of the main reasons that the traditional habits disappeared after VII, though I feel that things went too far when many if not almost all New Zealand religious communities abandoned the habit altogether.
Simplicity is definitely best and I love my very plain and basic habit that I wear as a hermit. Most times I wear a simple cap and tiechel as a headcovering, but I do have a long modern veil as well that I keep for Mass and other special occasions.
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  #9  
Old Dec 24, '09, 6:25 pm
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

we had Dominicans in our school and their habits were simple as habits go, gown, scapular, belt and rosary at the waist veil with white wimple, but I decided early on I could never be a nun because I could never keep a white garment as clean as they did.
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  #10  
Old Dec 25, '09, 9:45 am
Sister_Leocadia Sister_Leocadia is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmeltie Hemit View Post
Dear Sister Leocadia,

What order do you belong to? You have my interest Piqued!

As A Carmelite, we did not have very elaborate Habits. In fact, when i became a Carmelite hermit. I modifed my habit sans toque with modified veil. I found keeping the modified veil in place such a nuisence that i returned to wearing the touque and traditonal veil and now do not have to constantly fuss over keeping my veil in place! Deo Gratias!

Merry Christmas!

A Carmelite Hermit
I am a member of The Servants of the Afflicted of St Dymphna, an order of nuns who help mentally ill people in Slovakia. I am originally from England and was born here but when God called me to be a nun He showed me that He wanted me to join the order in Slovakia. I went when I was 18 and I came back a few months ago, just after I turned 26. The reason I am back is that Mother feels that God wants us to have a house here in England where we nuns can have a base to work out of. By the way, what sort of toque is it? I haven't heard the word used for a nun's headgear before.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sancta Rosa View Post
I have a small number of books written by New Zealand Sisters' and one thing that they report was how much effort went into maintaining their old style habits. One Sister told how that all of Saturday was spent in preparing their habit and head dress/veil for the coming week. This was certainly one of the main reasons that the traditional habits disappeared after VII, though I feel that things went too far when many if not almost all New Zealand religious communities abandoned the habit altogether.
Simplicity is definitely best and I love my very plain and basic habit that I wear as a hermit. Most times I wear a simple cap and tiechel as a headcovering, but I do have a long modern veil as well that I keep for Mass and other special occasions.
I'm lucky that my habit is so simple and I glad I don't have that great expanse of white collar on my chest or I'd have my dinner all over it I'm sure! What does your tiechel look like? I know Jewish ladies often wear them but I haven't seen them on religious sisters/nuns.
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  #11  
Old Dec 25, '09, 5:55 pm
Sancta Rosa Sancta Rosa is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sister_Leocadia View Post
[color="RoyalBlue"][font="Comic Sans MS"]

I'm lucky that my habit is so simple and I glad I don't have that great expanse of white collar on my chest or I'd have my dinner all over it I'm sure! What does your tiechel look like? I know Jewish ladies often wear them but I haven't seen them on religious sisters/nuns.
A tiechel is useful because it's basically just a large headscarf. I sometimes wear Islamic headscarves too, but they are sometimes more difficult to find here in New Zealand in plain and basic colours. The main thing is that they are large and made from cotton and they tie nicely over the caps I normally wear under a veil. And depending on the weather I can tie them to suit or plop a big straw hat over them when I'm working in the garden.
Being a hermit I'm essentially in a community of one and that means I do have some choice in the way I habit myself. Everything I wear is either adapted from second hand clothing from the church shops or else made from fabric I've been given or obtained second hand. Plain, simple and basic is very much my guiding principle. Simple and basic is good too because I'm not a brilliant needlewoman and simple and basic is very much my level.
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The Adorers of the Prayer of Christ. http://ladyofsorrows.viviti.com/

"mulieres autem, capite cooperto et modeste vestitae, maxime cum ad mensam Dominicam accedunt"
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  #12  
Old Dec 25, '09, 6:22 pm
CarmeliteHermit CarmeliteHermit is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sister_Leocadia View Post
I am a member of The Servants of the Afflicted of St Dymphna, an order of nuns who help mentally ill people in Slovakia. I am originally from England and was born here but when God called me to be a nun He showed me that He wanted me to join the order in Slovakia. I went when I was 18 and I came back a few months ago, just after I turned 26. The reason I am back is that Mother feels that God wants us to have a house here in England where we nuns can have a base to work out of. By the way, what sort of toque is it? I haven't heard the word used for a nun's headgear before.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too.



If you have ever seen Pics of Carmelites, the toque is the white piece that fits over the head and forms the white part in the front of the habit. It is a simple one piece deal made of linen or cotton to which one pins on the veil. No extra collars or starched bibs of fronts of headpieces etc.

The habit is comprised of Tunic, scapular, soft toque and veil and for mass or solemnities a White mantle. A leather belt is worn and when outside, sandals for the discalced. Keeping it clean is pretty easy. and no ironing.

Laughing 5 straight pins keep you from falling apart!

Your order sounds wonderful! As a former medical person i know how truly your good works are needed. Kudos!!

Tenderly,

A Carmelite Hermit


I'm lucky that my habit is so simple and I glad I don't have that great expanse of white collar on my chest or I'd have my dinner all over it I'm sure! What does your tiechel look like? I know Jewish ladies often wear them but I haven't seen them on religious sisters/nuns.
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  #13  
Old Jan 5, '10, 7:55 am
Plain Catholic Plain Catholic is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

The Benedictines had a long rectangle that served as a wimple. It was pleated with a pleater machine but the advantage was that the accordion effect allowed for easier head movement. By the way, these machines are still available. Pleater Source

There was a bandeau of sorts for the forehead and then the coif underneath. The veil was a long rectangular piece.

Not the most elaborate of the habits but very easy to put on and very practical compared to some. The tunic had a scapular, the sleeves were not overly wide. They had a choir gown worn when saying the Divine Office and the gown had 72 pleats in it, representing the 72 chapters of the Rule of St. Benedict.

There are traditional Benedictines around today who are in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. This group does not wear the pleated wimple but the rest of their habit appears to be the same traditional Benedictine habit.

Here is a picture of a pleater
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  #14  
Old Jan 6, '10, 2:30 pm
Sister_Leocadia Sister_Leocadia is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plain Catholic View Post
The Benedictines had a long rectangle that served as a wimple. It was pleated with a pleater machine but the advantage was that the accordion effect allowed for easier head movement. By the way, these machines are still available. Pleater Source

There was a bandeau of sorts for the forehead and then the coif underneath. The veil was a long rectangular piece.

Not the most elaborate of the habits but very easy to put on and very practical compared to some. The tunic had a scapular, the sleeves were not overly wide. They had a choir gown worn when saying the Divine Office and the gown had 72 pleats in it, representing the 72 chapters of the Rule of St. Benedict.

There are traditional Benedictines around today who are in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. This group does not wear the pleated wimple but the rest of their habit appears to be the same traditional Benedictine habit.
Thank you for all this information, it's really interesting to learn about it all. Also I had a look at your Plain Catholics websites which were great. It's nice to see people who embrace the simplicity of the faith. I loved the dresses and caps/bonnets. Very "nun-ish!"
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  #15  
Old Jan 6, '10, 8:14 pm
anode anode is offline
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Default Re: Pre-Vatican 2 Habits...Who had the most elaborate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plain Catholic View Post
The Benedictines had a long rectangle that served as a wimple. It was pleated with a pleater machine but the advantage was that the accordion effect allowed for easier head movement. By the way, these machines are still available. Pleater Source

There was a bandeau of sorts for the forehead and then the coif underneath. The veil was a long rectangular piece.

Not the most elaborate of the habits but very easy to put on and very practical compared to some. The tunic had a scapular, the sleeves were not overly wide. They had a choir gown worn when saying the Divine Office and the gown had 72 pleats in it, representing the 72 chapters of the Rule of St. Benedict.

There are traditional Benedictines around today who are in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. This group does not wear the pleated wimple but the rest of their habit appears to be the same traditional Benedictine habit.

Here is a picture of a pleater
Many old Benedictines used to wear this--you can see it in the old pictures. But boy, that must have been hot!

Most of the cloistered Benedictine nuns wear the traditional habit--Regina Laudis, Petersham, OL of the rock in WA, Westfield VT branch of Solesmes, Walburga in CO. No pleats and not much starch if any.
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