Why Do Nuns Wear Black? (What Order of Nuns Wear Black Habits?)

I remember seeing a nun in a pink habit. At the time, I was a theology student, and this piqued my interest, given my previous assumption that all nuns wore black. I spent part of that week researching the different colors nuns wore. I even visited the local Church and spoke to one of the Sisters. She filled me in on the various colors different Orders wore and their significance. This information came in handy during a light-hearted conversation in my class. One student wanted to know why nuns wear black. She thought the color was outdated. In my response, I shared what I learned from reading and research. So, why do nuns wear black?

Nuns wear black as an outward manifestation of their vows. In his exhortation, Pope John Paul II suggested that a habit represented the consecration of the nuns and monks. As such, we can infer that a black habit serves the same purpose.

Join me as we delve deeper into this topic. I’ll explore why nuns wear black veils, which Orders wear black, and we’ll look at nuns who wear other colors and much more!

The symbolic meaning of the black veils for nuns

Nuns wear black veils after professing their solemn vows. Profession is a public ceremony, usually held during a Mass. The novice wearing her white veil prostrates herself before the altar. The Church prays over her. She then professes her vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience before the abbess or prioress and other leaders of the Church. Her white veil is then swapped for a black one.

Do all nuns wear black?

Why Do Nuns Wear Black? 
Do all nuns wear black? Image source: Freepik

No. The colors depend on the Order. Some nuns wear blue, others grey, and others red. For instance, nuns of the Carmelite Order wear brown habits, while those of the Sisters of the Immaculate wear grey-blue. Each Order chooses its colors. Some prefer bold colors, while others muted ones.

What Order of nuns wear black habits?

Nuns from the Benedictine, Minim, and Passionist Orders wear black habits. Black, among these Orders, symbolizes repentance and humility. These Orders trace their origins as far back as AD 529 (the Benedictines). During these times, black was the cheapest and most available color. These Orders adopted it as a sign of humility and sorrow for their sin. Today, they maintain these colors for the same reasons and as part of their history.

What other habit colors do nuns wear?

As mentioned, the habit colors vary with the Orders. The most common are white, brown, grey, red, blue, and pink.

Here are a few Orders who wear different colors.

  1. Nuns from the Order of St. Jerome wear white habits with brown scapulars.
  2. Nuns from Our Lady of Charity prefer white robes and scapular, a black veil, and a silver heart.
  3. The Sisters of the Annunciation wear grey habits, scarlet scapulars, and black veils.
  4. Finally, the Clarisses wear brown habits and a black veil.

Can nuns wear vibrant colors?

Why Do Nuns Wear Black?
Can nuns wear vibrant colors? Image source: Pinterest

Yes. Nuns can wear vibrant colors. For instance, the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters wear pink habits, and nuns from the Sisters of the incarnate word and blessed sacrament wear white habits with red scapulars and black veils. Habit colors are the prerogative of the Orders.

Leave a Comment