'Garments of salvation'

representations of monastic clothing in Late Antiquity

This article examines descriptions of clothing of male and female monks that abound in late antique monastic literature. These accounts sought to create a monastic 'uniform' that would set the boundaries and establish the values of monastic life. Despite this attempt at standardisation, contradictio...

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Bibliographic Details
Author:Rebecca Krawiec
Volume:17
Pages:125-150
Language:English
Periodical:Journal of Early Christian Studies
Number:1
Format:Article
Topic:- Biography > Person and Life > Augustin's Monachism > Monachism > habit
- Works > Epistulae > [Epistulae - numérotées] > Ep. 262 (ad Ecdicia)
- Biography > Relations and Sources > Students & Correspondents > Ecdicia
Status:Active
Description
Summary:This article examines descriptions of clothing of male and female monks that abound in late antique monastic literature. These accounts sought to create a monastic 'uniform' that would set the boundaries and establish the values of monastic life. Despite this attempt at standardisation, contradictions appeared between worn, drab clothes and shining garments as the proper monastic attire, between the authority of male dress and female dress, between acceptable and unacceptable nakedness. These incongruities express the central tension of monasticism between sinful human and transcendent angelic identity. Ancient authors were aware of this paradox and so too possible misperceptions of monastic clothing and its meaning. At the end, the example is studied of Augustinia rebuking Ecidicia in letter 262 for wishing to wear a monastic dress against the wishes of her husband.