Instruction to Diocesan Ordinaries on Indecent Women’s Fashion – January 12, 1930

Acts of Pope Pius XI , Volume 6, House of the Good Press, Paris, 1934, p. 351-356.

(Translated from the original French)

Under the supreme apostolate which God has entrusted the performance of the whole Church, His Holiness Pope Pius XI has never ceased to teach by word and writings the precept of St. Paul: “That women wear decent clothes, adorning themselves with modesty and simplicity (…) and as befits women who profess to worship God through good works. “

Often when the occasion arose, the Pope disapproved and condemned severely indecent modes introduced everywhere today in the clothing habits of women and girls even Catholic; not only these modes gravely offend the dignity and feminine grace, but unfortunately cause temporal damage for the woman and, what is worse, his eternal loss and others.

It is therefore not surprising that the bishops and other places have Ordinary, as appropriate to the ministers of Christ, resisted in every way and with one voice, each in their diocese to overflow license and impudence ; often they braved with courage and fortitude the taunts and insults that addressed their response malicious men.

That is why this Sacred Congregation, in charge of promoting the discipline in the clergy and people, approves and praises rightly vigilance and action of the bishops; urges them together vigorously to pursue their plans and their timely as companies squeeze in execution until this plague is completely eradicated honest circles of society.

For more easily and surely this result, this Sacred Congregation, by order of the Supreme Pontiff, has taken on the matter the following decisions:

I. That the above priests and preachers, when the opportunity is offered to them, insist, resume, threaten, exhort the faithful, in the words of the Apostle Paul, that women dress in a way that exudes modesty that is the adornment and safeguarding of virtue; they urge parents not to allow their daughters to wear immodest toilet.

II. Parents, remembering the serious their obligation to take care of education above all religious and moral of their children, ensure with particular vigilance that their daughters, from their earliest years, are solidly educated Christian doctrine. That, by their words and by their example, they put all their zeal to excite in the souls of their children, the love of modesty and chastity. They strive to raise and direct their children by following the examples of the Holy Family, so that everyone at home, find a pattern and a stimulus for the love and practice of modesty .

III. What parents forbid their daughters to public participation exercises and gymnastics competitions; if their daughters are forced to take part, they ensure that they put the clothes that meet the decency and never tolerate immodest costumes.

IV. That boarding school directors and school mistresses strive to inspire their students a love of modesty. They thus lead them effectively to dress modestly.

V. That these guidelines and these mistresses would not admit in their establishments or their classes of students – and even mothers of them – who would dress modestly little; if they were admitted and they will amend the point, they return them.

VI. That religious, faithful to the requirements given 23 August 1928 by the Sacred Congregation for Religious, refuse to admit to their schools, their classrooms, their chapels, their recreation rooms – or return if they have been admitted, – girls who do not keep the Christian restraint in the way of dressing; that religious themselves in the education of children, take special care of deeply rooted in their souls the holy modesty and Christian modesty.

VII. Establish and spread of women’s associations that attach intended to curb, for their advice, examples and action, contrary to abuse Christian modesty in the way of. clothing and offer to promote purity of morals and modesty in dress.

VIII. In the pious women associations, which do not admit those who dress immodestly; if members are reprehensible in this, that the resume and, if they do amend the point, that the excluded.

IX. For a ban girls and women who dress immodestly a way access to the Holy Table, the role of godmother for baptism and confirmation, and if circumstances have it, the same entry from the church.

X. At the festivals of the year offer a particularly timely opportunity to instill Christian modesty – especially the feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary – the priests, principals priests pious unions and Catholic associations do not fail to remember women, in a speech for the occasion, the duties of Christian modesty in the way of dressing and encourage them not to neglect them.

At the feast of the Immaculate Conception, which annually provides for special prayers in cathedrals and parish churches and at the same time, as much as possible, we urge the Christian people by solemn sermons.

XI. The diocesan vigilance Council referred in the declaration of the Holy Office of March 22, 1918 treats former professed, at least once a year, the most likely to promote women Christian modesty means.

XII. In order that this salutary action develops efficiently and safely, bishops and other Ordinaries place every three years, along with the report on religious instruction dealt with the Motu Proprio Orbem catholicum of 29 June 1923, will also at this Sacred Congregation a report on the condition and status of women’s fashions and the measures adopted under the rules of this instruction.

Given in Rome, at the Palace of the Sacred Congregation of the Council on 12 January, Feast of the Holy Family, the year 1930.

D. Card. Sbarretti Sabine bishop and Poggio Mirteto, Prefect.

JULES, Bishop of Lampsacus, Secretary.

Latin text:




Vi supremi apostolatus, quo in universa Ecclesia divinitus fungitur, Ssmus Dominus Noster Pius Papa XI verbis et scriptis nunquam destitit illud S. Pauli (I ad Tim., II, 9,10) inculcare, videlicet : « mulieres in habitu ornato cum verecundia et sobrietate ornantes se, et… quod decet mulieres, promittentes pietatem per opera bona ».

Ac sæpenumero, occasione data, idem Summus Pontifex improbavit acerrimeque damnavit inhonestum vestiendi morem in catholicarum quoque mulierum ac puellarum usum hodie passim inductum, qui non modo femineum decus atque ornamentum graviter offendit, sed nedum in temporalem earumdem feminarum perniciem verum etiam, quod peius est, in sempiternam, itemque in aliorum ruinam miserrime vertit.

Nihil igitur mirum, si Episcopi ceterique locorum Ordinarii, sicut decet ministros Christi, in sua quisque diœcesi pravæ huiusmodi licentiæ ac procacitati modis omnibus unaque voce obstiterunt, derisiones nonnumquam ac ludibria ob hanc causam sibi a malevolis illata æquo fortique animo tolerantes.

Itaque hoc Sacrum Consilium cleri populique disciplinæ provehendæ cum eiusmodi Sacrorum Antistitum vigilantiam et actionem merita probatione ac laude prosequatur, tum eosdem vehementer hortatur ut consilia atque incepta opportune inita insistant et alacrius pro viribus urgeant, quoadusque hic pestíferas morbus ex honesta hominum consortione penitus extirpetur.

Quod ut facilius ac tutius ad effectum deducatur, hæc Sacra Congregatio, de mandato Sanctissimi Domini, ea quæ sequuntur ad rem statuere decrevit :

I. Parochi præsertim et concionatores, data occasione, secundum illud Apostoli Pauli (II ad Tim., IV, 2) instent, arguant, obsecrent, increpent ut feminæ vestes gestent, quæ verecundiam sapiant quæque sint ornamentum et præsidium virtutis ; moneantque parentes ne filiæ indecoras vestes gestare sinant.

II. Parentes, memores gravissimæ obligationis qua tenentur prolis educationem in primis religiosam et moralem curandi, peculiarem adhibeant diligentiam, ut puellæ a primis annis in doctrina christiana solide instituantur atque in earum animo ipsi, verbis et exemplo, amorem virtutum modestiæ et castitatis impense foveant ; familiam vero, Sacræ Familiæ exempla imitati, ita constituere atque gubernare satagant, ut singuli verecundiæ amandæ atque servandæ inter domesticos parietes habeant causam et invitamentum.

III. Parentes iidem filias a publicis exercitationibus et concursibus gymnicis arceant ; si vero eisdem filiæ interesse cogantur, curent ut vestes adhibeant quæ honestatem plene præseferant ; inhonestas vero vestes illas gestare nunquam sinant.

IV. Collegiorum moderatrices et scholarum magistræ modestiæ amore puellarum animos ita imbuere enitantur, ut eædem ad honeste vestiendum efficaciter inducantur.

V. Eædem moderatrices ac magistræ puellas, ne ipsarum quidem matribus exceptis, quæ vestes minus honestas gestent, in collegia et scholas ne admittant, admissasque, nisi resipiscant, dimittant.

VI. Religiosæ, iuxta litteras die xxiii mensis Augusti, anno MDCCCCXXVIII, datas a Sacra Congregatione de Religiosis, in sua collegia, scholas, oratoria, recreatoria puellas ne admittant, admissas ne tolerent, quæ christianum vestiendi morem non servent : ipsæ vero in alumnis educandis peculiare adhibeant studium, ut in earum animo sancti pudoris et verecundiæ christianæ amor altas radices agat.

VII. Piæ instituantur et foveantur feminarum Associationes, quæ consilio, exemplo et opere finem sibi præstituant cohibendi abusus in vestibus gestandis christianæ modestiæ haud congruentibus et promovendi morum puritatem ac vestiendi honestatem.

VIII. In pias Associationes feminarum ne illæ admittantur, quæ inhonestas vestes induant ; admissæ vero, si quid postea hac in re peccent et monitæ non resipiscant, expellantur.

IX. Puellæ et mulieres, quæ inhonestas vestes induunt, a Sancta Communione et a munere matrinæ in sacramentis Baptismi et Confirmationis arceantur, atque, si casus ferat, ab ipso ecclesiæ ingressu prohibeantur.

X. Cum incidunt per annum festa, quæ modestiæ christianæ inculcandam peculiarem exhibeant opportunitatem, præsertim vero festa B. M. Virginis, parochi et sacerdotes piarum Unionum et Catholicarum Consociationum moderatores feminas ad christianum vestiendi morem, opportuno sermone revocare atque excitare ne prætermittant. In festo autem Beatæ Mariæ Virginis sine labe conceptæ peculiares preces in omnibus cathedralibus et parœcialibus ecclesiis quovis anno peragantur, habitis, ubi fieri potest, opportunis cohortationibus in sollemni ad populum concione.

XI. Consilium diœcesanum a vigilantia, de quo in declaratione Sancti Officii die XXII mensis Martii, a. MDCCCCXVIII data, semel saltem in anno de aptioribus modis ac rationibus ad feminarum modestiæ efficaciter consulendum ex professo agat.

XII. Quo vero hæc salutaris actio efficaciter et tutior succedat, Episcopi aliique locorum Ordinarii, tertio quoque anno, una simul cum relatione de religiosa, institutione, de qua in Litteris Orbem catholicum die XXIX mensis Iunii, anno MDCCCCXX in Motu proprio datis, etiam de rerum conditione ac statu circa feminarum vestiendi morem deque operibus ad normam huius Instructionis præstitis, hanc Sacram Congregationem certiorem reddant.

Datum Romæ, ex ædibus Sacræ Congregationis Concilii, die xii mensis Ianuarii in festo Sacræ Familiæ, anno MDCCCCXXX.

Donato Card. SBARETTI, Episc. Sabinen, et Mandelen., Præfectus.

L. + S. Iulius, Ep. Lampsacen., Secretarius.

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