This gallery of photos comes from Sister Clare Veronica Wyman, R.A., an archivist for the Religious of the Assumption of Kensington, England. It augments an image of a doll from the Pauline A. Money Collection that displays a model of the traditional habit worn by Wyman's order. Wyman noticed that several elements of the doll's attire do not precisely portray the traditional habit.
- The doll's cincture, also known as a girdle, is shown in blue with violet tassels; it should all be a shade of violet that exactly matches the the serge fabric of the habit, says Wyman, who wore the habit until the 1970s and keeps authentic samples in the order's archives.
- The cincture on the doll is tied; it should be doubled, Wyman says. To do this, the girdle was folded in half, bringing the tassels together. With the loop end on the left side of the waist at the front, the wearer would wrap the tassel ends around the waist, push one tassel through the front of the loop and the other tassel through the back of the loop, and then tighten snugly.
- The crucifix on the doll's rosary is disproportionately large.
- The doll's guimpe — a cloth that covers the wearer's neck and shoulders — is disproportionately short, Wyman says: "Originally, it reached almost to waist level."
- The skirt portion of the habit fell to 3 centimeters above the ground — proportionately longer than is portrayed on the doll. "It was very heavy and hot," she says.
- Unlike the doll, Wyman says, the sisters wore a white linen veil underneath the cream-colored woolen veil, which came to a point at the back. "It's impossible for me to describe how to do it, though I still can."
Browse the photos below.
Full authentic 15-decade rosary carried by a Sister of the Assumption. Note the size of the crucifix.
On left of image: Two dolls dressed in modern attire of the Religious of the Assumption. To their right on the wall are framed portraits of the order's Superiors General. The first four wear the "old" habit; then the modern era begins. The present Superior General is from India and wears a sari for occasions that call for best attire.
Note the vaulting of the crypt beneath the chapel; this space is the home of the RA archives.
(Information provided by Sister Clare Veronica Wyman, R.A.)
A choir sister is someone committed to the recitation of the Divine Office in choir seven times a day.
She shared in some domestic duties but also taught the children and the lay sisters. She could keep the accounts and look after the sick. She probably thought up entertaining amusements and interesting occupations for the pupils out of lesson time.
Her duties were not finished by bedtime. She had a little room of her own next to the children's dormitory was responsible for their well-being during the night.
View of the back of a choir sister's veil.
View of doll in choir sister attire with sleeves fully unfurled.
A postulant (Latin: postulare - "to ask"): She wears a black dress and cape or "pelerine." This was the school uniform from about 1855 to the 1920s. With the addition of the "bonnet" or "cap" to her outfit, she signifies that she has begun her trial of religious life. She can leave at any time. (Information from Sister Clare Veronica Wyman, R.A.)
This genuine serre-tête, worn underneath a guimpe, provided a secure base on which to pin the veil.
The guimpe was worn over the serre-tête; it had an opening for the face from under the chin to the forehead just above the eyebrows.