Thursday, June 28, 2012

Our Habit

The tunic, scapular, cincture and veil to be blessed for a new novice.

One of the more common questions that arise is "What exactly are the various parts of your habit?"  The habit is made up of several basic elements:  tunic, scapular, cincture (or leather belt), coif and veil.

The tunic is the main garment of the habit.  It is a long sleeved, floor length garment, belted at the waist. 

The scapular consists of two panels of fabric joined at the shoulder that is the same length as the tunic.  Originally St. Benedict thought of this garment for work purposes, as an apron.  

The coif (some also call this a wimple or guimpe), is the white material covering a nun’s head and throat and has a rounded collar.  For the early morning Offices and Holy Mass we wear a coif that is pleated.  It is approximately a yard of starched linen.  During the day, we have a simple coif that is sewn of wash and wear fabric and much easier to maintain. 

The veil is worn over the coif.  A novice wears white veil, a black veil is worn by a nun in temporary vows, a nun in solmen vows wears a black veil with white liner, it is also referred to as “double” veil.

Nuns in solemn vows also wear a cuculla, or choir robe.  It has wide, deep sleeves, and pleats vertical pleats or folds that hang the full length from the shoulders to the floor.  This is worn over the tunic and scapular.  We wear our cacullas on Sundays and Solemnities, except during the summer months due to the high heat and humidity of southwestern Pennsylvania.

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