Religious habit  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A religious habit is a distinctive set of garments worn by members of a religious order. Traditionally some plain garb recognisable as a religious habit has also been worn by those leading the religious eremitic and anachoritic life, although in their case without conformity to a particular uniform style.

For instance, for some Roman Catholic or Anglican orders, the habit may comprise a tunic covered by a scapular and cowl, with a hood for monks and a veil for nuns; in other orders it may be a distinctive form of cassock for men, or a distinctive dress and bonnet for women. Modern habits sometimes take the form of a distinctive clerical suit for men and a simple dress suit for women. Catholic Canon Law requires only that it be in some way identifiable so that the person may serve as a witness to Gospel values, simple as a mark of detachment from vanity and greed, and becoming.

In many orders, the mark of the end of postulancy and the beginning of the novitiate in a particular religious community is a ceremony during which the new novice, having formally requested admission to the community, is clothed in the community's habit by the superior. In some cases the novice's habit will be somewhat different from the habit of a member under vows: for instance, in certain orders of women where the veil still forms part of the habit it is common for novices to wear a white veil while professed members wear black, or if the order generally wears white, the novice wears a gray veil; among some Franciscan communities of men, novices wear a sort of overshirt over their tunic; Carthusian novices wear a black cloak over their white habit.

In some orders, historically or still today, different types or levels of profession are indicated by differences in habits. Lay brothers in some monastic orders wore a habit somewhat different from choir monks, for instance; or junior professed sisters in some communities of women wear a slightly different habit from the permanently professed.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Religious habit" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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