Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Getting into the Habit

Ever wonder about a nun's habit? I mean the old-fashioned habit, like the one Mother Angelica and her Poor Clare nuns wear. I always wondered about how easy the habit is to take care of and put on. Can you just throw it in the washer, or does it have to be dry-cleaned? And what about the headgear? Is it all in one piece that you can just sort of pull on over your head? And how does the veil stay in place?

It's a bit of a challenge to find information on the web about habits, but it is out there. Here is GothicGarments.com, the website for an outfit in San Francisco that specializes in -- well, outfitting monks and nuns. The section in the sidebar entitled "Nuns Latin Rite" not only answers the above questions, but also has illustrations of various orders' habits and pieces of the headgear (it's not all one piece you can just pull on), as well as detailed instructions on how to put on the habit, and how to launder the same (the material is pretty temperamental).

So nuns may not have to worry about what to wear every day, but getting into and out of the habit -- not to mention laundering the thing -- looks like an almighty trial in itself, on top of the many sacrifices that monastic life entails. Let those of us who live outside cloister walls give thanks for civvies.

P.S. I still think nuns should wear habits. We were none of us promised a rose garden.

1 comment:

  1. Most communities actually sew their own habits, including veils. Sisters of Life, the Dominicans, etc.

    In fact, Sr. Rosalind Moss ordered the postulant dresses from an Amish community, and the Nashville Dominicans made their veils for them. I don't know if her community actually plans to order habits or if they will take on the tradition of making them themselves...they will be full habits, including wimple.