Franciscan Footprints

Why the Habit? Part 1

That’s a big question – so let’s get some background out of the way.
There’s a lot said (mostly opinions on blogs) about whether religious (men or women) should wear a habit or not.  You have internet articles like Why Nuns Should Wear HabitsWhat Color is Your Habit?, For These Young Nuns, Habits are the New Radical, and then you get into the history of the habit, like the 2005 book The Habit: A History of Clothing of Catholic Nuns.

In St John Paul II’s, Vita Consecrata he speaks to the matter here:
"… The Church must always seek to make her presence visible in everyday life, especially in contemporary culture, which is often very secularized and yet sensitive to the language of signs. In this regard the Church has a right to expect a significant contribution from consecrated persons, called as they are in every situation to bear clear witness that they belong to Christ.
Since the habit is a sign of consecration, poverty and membership in a particular Religious family, I join the Fathers of the Synod in strongly recommending to men and women religious that they wear their proper habit, suitably adapted to the conditions of time and place.

  • Where valid reasons of their apostolate call for it, Religious, in conformity with the norms of their Institute, may also dress in a simple and modest manner, with an appropriate symbol, in such a way that their consecration is recognizable.
  • Institutes which from their origin or by provision of their Constitutions do not have a specific habit should ensure that the dress of their members corresponds in dignity and simplicity to the nature of their vocation."  - Vita consecrata

Why are some communities of Sisters dressed differently than other communities?  As described above, every community chooses their own style of dress – whether they be “habit-wearing” or not.

For the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis of East Peoria, we choose to wear a habit.

1877 Habit style

When the Order was founded in 1877, the Sisters took the common fashion of Franciscan habits of the day with its tightly worn veil.  It includes a Franciscan cord and rosary at the waist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over time, the habit changed….


1912 Habit

In 1912, the Sisters modified the veil.
1928 White Habit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1928, the white habit was developed, for those Sisters working in clinical areas at the hospital.  It is identical to the brown wool 1912 habit.  But white cotton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1968 HabitIn 1968, after Vatican II, the Sisters went to a more modern habit – a one-piece A-line dress, with a simple crucifix necklace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2012, the Sisters returned to the more traditional Franciscan habit – and this is the habit the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis of East Peoria wear to the present day.

current style of habitCurrent style of habit (side)Current style (rosary side)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The modeling for these Sisters was really tough, here in Peoria.   You know how strenuous a photo shoot for models can be, right?  Stay tuned to a future blog article with an explanation of the meaning & symbolism of the pieces of our habit - plus behind the scene photos and outtakes from the photo session.  :-)

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