During the years listed below, changes to the habits of Postulants and Novices were also implemented; however, for the interest of space, this timeline focuses only on Professed Sisters.
Left, painting of Mother Maria Anna Brunner, 1834; middle, Mother Ludovica Scharf, ca. 1888; right, Mother Nathalia Smith and Mother Aquinas Stadtherr, ca. 1955
1834: The clothing of the early members of the community resembled native Swiss garb, like Mother Brunner would have worn.
1844: The first Sisters in America wore simple black dresses, black aprons and veils, similar to what they wore in Europe.
1888: The Sisters adopted their first uniform habit, as outlined in their Constitution of 1888.
1906: The community added a white piping to the collar of the habit.
1924: A white coif and veil cap were first implemented with the Sisters at Kneipp Springs in Rome City, Indiana. Later, the entire Congregation adopted this change.
1928: Archbishop McNicholas suggested “a bit of red” for the habit. The Sisters adopted a red cincture (belt) and a red cord for the crucifix.
1953: Discussions begin regarding a change to the habit, to comply with Pope Pius XII’s suggested updates.
1955: In April, a decree from the archbishop authorized the change of the habit from black serge to a lighter and washable gray material. On August 22, the new gray habits were worn by the Sisters for the first time.
1965: The Second Vatican Council ends. Pope Paul VI issued the decree The Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life, which included statements on updating religious congregations’ clothing.
1966-present: The Sisters formed a Habit Committee in 1966 to discuss changes to the dress of the community. In the late 1960s, they were given a choice to remain in their habits, modify their habits or to adopt contemporary dress. Today, most Sisters wear contemporary dress.
– Story by Sarah Aisenbrey; photos from the CPPS Archives collection