Religious Habits: What their colors signify


Enjoy! I found it very interesting!


A few corrections:

The Benedictines didn’t wear a rosary because the rosary wasn’t known as such when the Bens were founded. When the Bens weren’t working or praying they were doing Lectio Divina.

Brown for the Carmelites is indicative of humility.

The Cord is the main thing for Franciscans. Some even wear purple tunics. The fourth knot comes from the Poor Clares’ vow of enclosure. Granted, some active Franciscans could make a fourth vow.

The Dominican habit is based on that of the Augustinians, which is the main rule they follow. They have constitutions written for them by St. Dominic, who was an Augustinian Canon. Dominican tradition states that the entire habit design was given by Our Lady herself. She had asked Jesus to let her found an order of preachers to counter the heresies of the day. She also told St. Dominic to USE the rosary – which was coming into formal usage – to help convert heretics.

I have the only religious habit discussion group on Yahoo. JREducation on these forums supplied a lot regarding the Franciscan habit in a thread regarding founding new communities.


Ouch. Sorry I started it. It was an interesting article. :frowning:


No prob. I’m more brusque than I need to be. Please pray for that.


Very interesting, Clare. I enjoyed it as written. Please do not apologize.


Thanks for the link, Clare. As a Third Order, I found it very informative & I appreciated the post.


At WMF a couple years ago, I saw some rather interesting habits. The habit that struck me the most are the Eucharistic Sisters of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I adore the image of OLOG on their scapular!

I did notice a lot of women’s orders wearing blue. Regardless of rule, I would take an obvious stab that these orders were dedicated to Our Lady. :slight_smile:

It was actually kind of fun to see Sisters from a few different orders, along with a few priests and many laity, saying the LOH together on the Ben Franklin waiting for the Festival of Families to start.

I love the prayers that unite us: Rosaries, LOH, Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! I LOVE BEING CATHOLIC!


I have seen some really nice habits in my time as well. I was a candidate of Franciscans of the Holy Land for almost a year and I was a member of the Lay Dominicans as well for a time. Its great to see how the Church lives out her life in different means and manners and the symbols that go along with them.

One that I would add to this list (Just because its older than all the other Orders, including St. Benedict!) is the Monastic movement of St. Columba. His was a white tunic with hood, rope belt, and is thought to have worn a green ‘cappa’, or cloak. The cloak was a typical part of the dress of celtic society and usually went down to the ankles. It was thought to be green because St. Columba was known to have taught green martyrdom, or Glas, which was a complete death to all desire. It is known that this was the necessary habit of the the disciples of Columba because when his disciples, who were on pilgrimage, landed in Wessex and approached King Alfred, they were asked who they were and why they wore the habit they did. The married monks of St. Columba and the other celtic monasteries was written about by the Venerable Bede who found this to be one of the hallmarks of Celtic spirituality, a spirituality that was not just in a monastery, but was a very way of life for all people.


The different orders of Clerics Regular all take their habits from different cassocks of the time. They are primarily black, simply because black cloth was cheapest at the time and easiest to keep looking clean as the orders of Clerics Regular worked out in the world, most often with the poor. These orders include the Theatines, the Jesuits (yes, the Jesuits do have a habit), the Clerics Regular Minor (known as Adorno Fathers in the English speaking countries and the Caracciolini in the rest of the world), and the Piarists. I know in my own order (the Clerics Regular Minor) the Rosary is not officially part of the habit but many wear one anyway because of the great devotion to the prayer in following the tradition of our Founder, St. Francis Caracciolo, who also wore one.

closed #10

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit