July 25, 2006

"Sisters of Perpetual Migraines"?

The headgear some Sisters used to wear was a cause of infections, rashes, perpetual headaches and other challenges to health or comfort.

Some parts of the headgear were stiffened or shaped by hidden wire, wood or other materials— in addition to heavy starching.

Here's an old picture of one type of headgear that I imagine caused physical headaches. Instead of resting on the top of the head, it appears that it's lower edge pressed into the forehead at an angle.

The Church addressed just this kind of situation.
October 28, 1965
Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life
Second Vatican Council

# 17. The religious habit, an outward mark of consecration to God, should be simple and modest, poor and at the same becoming. In addition it must meet the requirements of health and be suited to the circumstances of time and place and to the needs of the ministry involved. The habits of both men and women religious which do not conform to these norms must be changed.

Changed, but not abandoned!

The Vatican has the document online.
Click HERE for it.


Blogger Laura said...

It is believed that Hildegard of Bingen had migraines. If ever there was a patroness of that dread curse, these nuns should look to her, especially since she was also an abbess and a doctor of sorts.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how did "The religious habit, an outward mark of consecration to God, should be simple and modest, poor and at the same becoming." become a madate for nuns to dress like your odd great aunt?

I am always heartened when I see a nun "in habit". It signals to the world that she has dedicated her life to Christ.

Lest I be accused of sexism, i feel that priests who forsake the collar when they're out and about are just as bad.

My family used to vacation with a whole group of people who all shared the same catholic high school. The principal, a priest, would sometimes join us. He ALWAYS wore his collar when he went out. It's amazing how deferential even the most obnoxious maitre' d can be when confronted by an Irish Catholic priest...

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Matthew said...

I agree with anonymous, except that I wish most Nuns/Sisters WOULD
dress like old aunt Biddie instead of short skirts, sleeveless blouses
and half or no head covering. We don't even want to discuss those orders which have totally abandoned
any form of habit. Even a couple of Byantine/Eastern rite orders don't where traditional habits anymore. The spirit of Vatican II,huh? Perhaps Pope BenedictXVI will get around to straightening them out. Not to seem to unkind, but a lot of those poor nuns' habits were really bizarre looking!
No wonder they went off the opposite direction. God Bless them every one, though.

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Ellen said...

I like a modified traditional habit. I can't help but think that some of them were torture to wear, especially the ones with lots of starch, and having to wear them in the hot, humid southern states would be horrible. (It's 97 with 70% humidity here).

The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia have a nice habit.

4:10 AM  
Blogger dilexitprior said...

The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia have a nice habit.

I have a friend who's joining them in two weeks! :-)

I personally think the Sisters of Life out in New York have a beautiful habit. A nice long white veil. . .

This post makes me think though that the former habits may have facilitated opportunities for co-redemptive suffering.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Sisters of St Joseph (Brown Joeys) here in Australia used to find their traditional head gear very uncomfortable particularly in the summer so modification was a good idea. Now, unfortunately, their 'habit' is the ring on their finger.

7:12 PM  

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