There are a lot of things that happen on the day a nun gets appointed. They undergo a unique marriage ceremony in which they wear habits (the bridal dresses for nuns) and they receive a wedding ring.
Nuns often wear wedding rings both during and after their initiation ceremony, but this practice is not required. The ring is meant to show the woman’s commitment to God and is worn alongside the habit. In years past, nuns wore rings more often than they do today.
Understandably, the marriage ceremony for nuns can be quite different from what most people are accustomed to. And if you plan on becoming a nun in the future or you are interested in finding out why nuns even wear a wedding ring in the first place. Here is everything you need to know.
Why Do Nuns Wear Wedding Rings?
Amongst ordinary couples, wedding rings are a symbol to show commitment to one another. They are used to identify those who are married or engaged. Nuns on the other hand also use rings to show their commitment to God. This has been a custom amongst nuns ever since the beginning of the Catholic Church. Obviously, as time goes by some nuns have stopped wearing rings, others still do. Therefore, the answer to the above question is that nuns do wear wedding rings. But not all of them do.
Since time immemorial, nuns wore wedding rings as a sign of their marriage to the Lord and Church. During their weddings, nuns commit to vow to obedience, charity, and service. They also vow to remain committed to the Lord as well as practicing God’s teachings. After saying their vows, nuns then become brides of Christ. Even though these vows stick to the hearts and minds of nuns, wedding rings are a physical reminder of their devotion to Christ and the Church. Nowadays, there are various communities with different beliefs. Therefore, do not be surprised when you see some nuns with wedding rings and others without.
Another reason why nuns wear wedding rings is to help them blend with society. Married people wear rings and because nuns are married to the Lord, they too deserve to wear a ring to show their commitment to God. In the public, wedding rings have been used to categorize the single and taken. With the help of a wedding ring, nuns can also be identified in society as women who have vowed their lives to God.
While we are still on nuns wearing wedding rings. Most people have always wondered why nuns wear wedding rings on the right hand. Usually, wedding rings always go on the left hand. This has been the tradition for as long as marriages have existed. However, nuns who wear wedding rings, often wear them on the right hand. The reason for this is that a nun’s wedding isn’t the same as a traditional wedding. Even though both involve vowing and committing to another. Nuns commit themselves only to the Lord and church that’s why they distinguish their wedding rings by wearing them on the right hand. There are nuns who also wear these rings on the left hand. As mentioned earlier, it all narrows down to the community a nun belongs to and their beliefs.
Do Priests Wear Wedding Rings?
Similar to nuns, priests are also allowed to wear wedding rings as a sign of commitment to the Church and God. All members of the clergy are allowed to wear wedding rings which are referred to as ecclesiastical rings. These can be worn by priests, popes, cardinals, and bishops.
According to history, priests are granted the privilege of wearing pontifical vestments such as the ecclesiastical ring. Different monasteries have varying rules. However, there is no universal rule that prevents priests from wearing wedding rings as a symbol of commitment to the church.
You may see a priest wearing or not wearing a wedding ring. This will depend on the beliefs of the priest as well as the occasion. Other members of the clergy such as the Pope, he has a specific episcopal ring known as the Ring of the Fisherman. The name was inspired by when Jesus told Peter that he wanted to make him a fisher of men. To date, it is the sign of papal authority. And the face of the gold ring has a picture of St Peter on a fishing boat. Every pope gets this ring with their name written on it. And when they pass on, it is broken.
Moving on to Bishops, they are given rings on the day of consecration. Bishops are also granted the freedom to wear their own episcopal rings as well as those he may have inherited from the previous Bishop. All rings are considered to be the property of the Church and should be left at the Church when one retires or passes away.
As a priest, bishop, or cardinal, wearing a ring is a sign of commitment and devotion. This is also the same case for nuns. Both priests and nuns are married to the Church. And the only physical proof of marriage is a wedding ring. Because traditions have changed, in some churches Priests may be allowed to wear wedding rings. And others may not choose to do so. But the bottom line is, priests, do wear wedding rings. And other than it is a sign of commitment to the Lord, it also shows ecclesial authority.
Do Nuns Still Wear Wedding Dresses When They Take Their Vows?
Being a wedding ceremony like any other, nuns when they take their vows should be in a wedding dress. It is the mode of dressing for this occasion and for those of you who may have been lucky enough to witness such an occasion, you may have seen nuns dressed in a veil and a wedding dress.
Similar to the practice of wedding rings, depending on the Church a nun is taking their vows on, they can wear wedding dresses or stick to habits, which is the popular attire nuns dress in. back in the day, wedding dresses were mandatory when a nun was taking her vows. But times have changed and so have certain practices. And irrespective of whether a nun wears a wedding dress or a habit, what matters most is the vows they make to God and the Church.
When you want to become a nun, you must meet the requirements of the order you are interested in joining. Different orders have varying requirements and when you pass these requirements, you undergo training that converts you into a nun. On the day you will be taking your vows, the order you are under will advise you on the ideal dress code and attire for the occasion.
Why Do Nuns Wear Habits?
For centuries, habits have been the identifying factors for nuns. This is a culture that has embedded deep in our cores that even young kids can identify a sister or a nun just from their attire. We all know that nuns are required to wear habits. But do you know why they wear them?
Habits are an outward sign of commitment to God and one’s religion. Because of how simple habits are, they are an indication of a nun’s vows to membership, consecration, and poverty to a religious family. Habits go way back in history even on the days of St John Paul II. Despite changes in clothing trends and production, habits have retained their simple and unique design. The habit must be uniform amongst members of the same religious family. And should be recognizable so that the society can identify the nuns in their midst.
It’s not just nuns who wear religious clothing but so do bishops and priests. There is a saying that the habit does not make the monk. However, in a religious setting habits play a critical role in identifying the individual wearing it. In this case, a nun must wear a habit not just because it’s required by the order. But, it helps her remember who she is, her vows, and her commitment to God.
The habits worn by nuns are warm, modest, and appropriate. Depending on the current weather conditions, nuns can either wear other clothes beneath the habit so that they ensure they are warm and safe. It’s also worth mentioning that the habit is God’s sign of love and care. When the public sees a nun in a habit, they immediately recognize something unique about the wearer. And that’s why most people approach nuns wearing habits and ask them to pray on their behalf. The habit by itself is a sign of God’s presence in the world.
There are so many misconceptions about nuns and the lifestyles they lead. Most of these misconceptions are because very few people take the time to understand who nuns are and what they stand for. If you have always wondered why nuns wear wedding rings or dresses popularly known as habits, hopefully, the above article has answered you.
It’s also important to know that nuns are different from sisters. The latter refers to women who have taken simple vows and nuns are those who have taken solemn vows. Both sisters and nuns both wear habits and are committed to God and the Church. Don’t forget that different churches have varying rules, that’s why you may see some nuns wearing rings and others not doing the same.