Religious habit

The Habit is habit a mostly Catholic religious order. But even religious congregations of other churches wear a habit. The word is derived from the Latin habitus "attitude, form." The habit has evolved from the work clothes of the northern Italian population in the 6th century.


In many religious men, there is a habit of a tunic or cassock, which is tied with a rope, a belt or a cincture. For this purpose, a scapular is worn ( union ) of several orders. In some orders, a hood or a cowl ( union with hood ) is common. Also a Mozetta (Shoulder Throw ) or a long coat, how to wear it to the German Order of the Carmelites or may belong to.

As colors, especially black, white, brown, gray or dark blue are common. Color and texture of the habit can also vary within a religious order, if, for example missionary orders in tropical regions rather lighter and lighter materials are used.


Benedictine wear tunic ( undergarment ), cincture (belt), scapular and cowl with hood. Augustinian Canons wear belts and Mozetta (up to the elbows and reaching forward buttoned cape ). Franciscans wear a brown ( OFM Capuchin and ) or black ( Friars Minor ) Habit with white wool knit and a hood. The Habit is sometimes referred to herein as a habit. The hood is sewn a little longer and directly with the Capuchins at the cowl, at the Friars Minor Franciscans and it is located on a separate collar which can be worn over the cassock and narrower, wider at the Friars Minor to the Franciscans.

Merciful brothers wearing a black gown with a leather belt and a scapular with hood. Dominicans wear a white tunic with a belt, a white scapular, white hood, plus a black cloak ( Capa ). Carthusians have a white habit with a scapular, which at the sides by wide strips of fabric ( Bandolen ) is held together. Carmelites wear a brown habit and a white coat choir.

Nuns can be seen almost always in her veil, the mostly white with the novices, according to the temporal or perpetual profession usually is black or has the color of the Habits. There are different forms of the veil in use from a full cover of hair and neck to a connected to the hair light headgear. For this purpose, a scapular is also a tunic with belt or cincture and, depending on the congregation supported. Habits with hood are not very common at nuns. For the nuns habit is also part of the cowl or the choir coat.

  • Habit of the Cistercians
  • Habit of the Benedictine
  • Habit of the Camaldolese
  • Habit of Jerónimos


The religious habit is established for each community by the respective rules of the order, constitutions, statutes, or habits. In the various religious communities to wear the habit, depending on the rule, each day or only at solemn liturgical occasions. The latter is particularly common in Protestant communities. Each habit is originally derived from the normal civilian clothes simple population. After the Second Vatican Council is the habit that has been solidified by the tradition in their form has been simplified in many monasteries. Once again the bonds were taken at the usual civilian clothes taken (in women such as a simple cut skirt and blouse or a long-sleeved dress) and for uniformity and simplicity in fabric and cut.


The practical significance of the religious garment within the Order is that the uniform garments emphasize the community and individuality takes back. The habit is an outward sign of poverty and the simple life. For the spiritual meaning of the Habits, the connotation of " habitus " is defined as " attitude, behavior " is important ( cf. ( Gal 3.27 EU), (Rom 13,14 EU). For the support of these clothes Habit brings the attitude expressed and amplified at the same time the feeling of belonging to the religious community and the binding to the own profession. 's also externally, the role model of the religious dress of meaning, it has symbolic character and is also a commitment to the faith.

Some orders have opted for quite the return to civilian clothing or leave the decision to their members individually (for example, the English Ladies ) in order to be closer to their fellow human beings in the everyday world. This can ( in social work or in the mission, for example ) facilitate the contact with the people in certain career fields. In these religious communities is wearing a simple, unadorned clothing set in the Rule. Members shall also often a sign of their community badge.

The Habit in the Evangelical Church

In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Hanseatic cities of Hamburg and Lübeck are available as official costume as a special form of Talars a two-piece called " regalia " consisting of lower and upper Habit Habit. To this end, instead of Beffchens a neck brace is worn.