What do nuns wear on their heads? (The Different Types of Nuns’ Headwear, Why do nuns keep their heads covered)

As a devoted Christian and theologian, I take an interest in the religious practices of different denominations. I was especially intrigued by the nuns due to their practice of covering their heads and unique dress code. I decided to visit a Catholic church to conduct more research on why they do this and got to interact with some of them. Last week, as we discussed the mode of dressing among the nuns in my online Christian forum, one member asked whether nuns have different types of headwear. Another was curious to know why nuns cover their heads. Having interacted with them in the Church and conducted in-depth research, I had all the right answers at my fingertips. So, what do nuns wear on their heads?

Nuns wear different types of head coverings, such as a veil that falls down the back of their head and covers the top and front part, and a coif which is worn under the veil. Some also wear the wimple under a veil that covers the head, neck, and shoulders. Nuns belonging to the nursing or teaching orders wear bonnets that look like caps. The nuns cover their heads to avoid vanity and show their full devotion to God.

In this article, I invite you to join me as I look at the nuns and why they cover their heads. Keep reading to find out what nuns wear on their heads, whether they shave their hair, what the

Bible says about head covering and much more!

The Different Types Of Nuns’ Headwear

Why do nuns keep their heads covered
The Different Types Of Nuns’ Headwear. Image source: Pixabay

Nuns wear different types of head coverings based on their order. The head coverings form part of the habit. Some of the types of headwear among the nuns include the following.

  • Veil– Nuns have different veils that vary in size and color. While some of the veils are intricate, others are simple. The veil covers a nun’s head and then falls down the back. The nuns mostly wear traditional veils during religious ceremonies.
  • Coif– This type of head covering is usually worn under the veil. It consists of a rounded brim that frames the face. Nuns wear the coif to keep their hair tidy and secure the veil.
  • Cornette– This is one of the oldest types of headwear that nuns used to wear back in the 1800s. It resembles horns since it has a starched piece of cloth that is folded upward. It was commonly worn by a Roman Catholic Society known as the Daughters of Charity.
  • Wimple– Some orders of nuns also put on the wimple, which fully covers the head and neck area. The wimple is worn under a coif or veil.
  • Bonnet– Teaching and nursing orders wear a nun hat called the bonnet. This nun’s headwear is a simple cap that protects them from the sun while outdoors.

Why do nuns keep their heads covered?

According to the Catholics, keeping one’s head covered is a requirement. They believe that covering one’s head symbolizes subservience or obedience. They imply that it is God’s order for a woman who chooses religious service to cover their head during prayer and worship.

Some suggest that nuns cover their hair as an act of modesty. They believe it protects them from being viewed as sex objects by some men. When nuns cover their heads, it is also a sign of humility and dignity. Some scholars also imply that nuns cover their heads so that they do not play with their hair, which is a common habit among young ladies.

Covering the head using unique headwear such as veils also distinguishes nuns from other women. It shows that she has separated herself from the world and chosen a different path. It signifies that she is submissive to God.

What Does the Bible Say About Head Covering?

What do nuns wear on their heads?
What Does the Bible Say About Head Covering? Image source: Pixabay

Genesis 24:65 says that when a servant saw her master, she covered her head with a veil. Theologians suggest that in this passage, the veil used to cover the woman’s head was a sign of modesty.

Covering the head was commonly practiced by the early Church since they interpreted

1st Corinthians 11:2-10 literally. These Bible verses suggest that men are not supposed to cover their heads since doing this dishonors their heads. However, women are expected to cover their heads when praying. It goes on to suggest that if a woman does not cover her hair before prayer, she should cut her hair short. It shares a similar message as 1st Corinthians 11:15, which says that if a woman has long hair, she should cover it since it is not her glory.

Do Nuns Cut Their Hair?

Some Nuns cut their hair while others do not. It depends on the religious order a nun belongs to. Some individual monasteries and monastic orders still maintain the tradition of cutting hair short. The practice is common among Latin Church friars like the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal World.

Since nuns take a vow of obedience and chastity, those who choose to cut their hair believe that symbolizes giving up worldly attachments and pleasures and fully committing oneself to God. Shaving the head for religious reasons is called Tonsure.

Some suggest that nuns also cut their hair to show not only their true devotion to their faith but also their humility. This is because some people associate long hair with pride. The haircutting is also believed to emulate Jesus, who had short hair when he lived on Earth. They believe that when a nun is willing to cut her hair, it shows that she is willing to give up everything, including her hair which enhances her femininity. Cutting hair among the nuns is also believed to make wearing the veil easier.

While some nuns choose to cut their hair short, some grow it and then donate it. Since cutting hair is not required in the Catholic Church, some scholars suggest it is not compulsory.

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