Pope Pius XII – The Christian concept of fashion

The female youth of Italian Catholic Action has undertaken in 1940, in Italy, a “crusade of purity” against the immorality of fashion, the Holy Father congratulated the delegation of 3,000 members and reminded them that Christian principles should govern the feminine attire and attitude that must have Christian girls in front of immorality.

Our joy is intense, dear daughters, bless you again in the holy “crusade of purity” that you have so opportunely business and you courageously continue under the powerful protection of the Virgin most pure, Mary Immaculate.

The “crusade of purity” …

The worthy and happy crusade name you have chosen and taxed at your beautiful big campaign features a brilliant cross, salvation beacon for the world, and evokes the glorious historical memories of the Crusades of the Christian peoples, the holy expeditions and battles under the sacred flags for the conquest of the holy places and to defend Catholic countries against invasions and threats of unbelievers. You also hear defend a Catholic area, the land of purity, there conquer and keep those that read like a cloud charged with the aroma of Christ forth fragrance in families, gatherings of friends, streets, assemblies, performances, public and private entertainment.

This is a crusade against the enemies of Catholic morality, against the perils create calmly current morality of peoples powerful waves of immorality that lead through the streets of the world and invade all social classes.

… made necessary by the current immorality

Today such a danger exists everywhere, the Church is not only to tell.

Even among foreign men to the Christian faith, the most far-sighted and more concerned with the public good in denouncing the high spirits terrible threats to the social order and the future of nations.

These excitations to uncleanness that multiply currently poisoning the roots of life, while the brake of evil is further weakened by the indulgence, we would call a better negation of part of more wider public consciousness that shows blind in front of the most reprehensible moral disorders.

This immorality is it more today than other previous eras? It might be unwise to assert, in any case, this is an idle question. Already the author of Ecclesiastes wrote this warning: “Do not say, how is it that the former days were better than these? For such a question is silly. All things are difficult. What has been is what will be, and what is done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun “(Qoheleth 7.10; Qoheleth 1: 8-9).

The life of man on earth – even in Christian centuries – is always a battle. We need to save our souls and those of our brethren in our time, and now the danger is certainly bigger because the devices that excite passions have extraordinarily increased, while at other times they were confined in circles restricted.

The progress of the press, cheap books like luxury books, photographs, illustrations, art prints of all kinds and of all colors and all costs, cinemas, variety shows and a hundred other ways misleading secrets and spread the attractions of evil, and put them in the hands of all, great and small, women and girls.

Is there not a way that spreads to everyone, bold and unbecoming to a young girl raised in a Christian? The movie does not he do attend performances that once took refuge in enclosures where they would never have dared set foot?

In the face of these dangers, the government has taken several countries of legislative or administrative measures to stem the flood of immorality. But in the area of customs, the external action of the authorities, even the most powerful, praiseworthy, useful and necessary as it is, will never succeed in getting these alone sincere and wholesome fruits that heal the souls on which must operate a more powerful force.

… in many areas.

The Church needs to work on souls, and service of Catholic Action, your action, in unity and under the direction of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, fighting the perils of misconduct in all areas that are open to you: in the fashion, apparel and clothing, hygiene and sport, in the field of social relations and entertainment.

Your weapons are your word and your example, your kindness and your support, weapons as evidenced from others and make possible and commendable behavior that honors you and honors your business.

We do not we propose to retrace here the sad picture too known disorders that present themselves to you: clothes so tight or as they seem made for rather put more into relief what they should veil; sports parts that unfold under conditions of clothes, exhibition and camaraderie, irreconcilable with the modesty even less demanding; dances, shows, interviews, readings, artwork, ornaments, where the desire of entertainment and fun accumulates the most serious dangers.

Instead, we wish to remember and put before you the principles of the Catholic faith in these matters, should inform your judgment, guide your conduct and your not, inspire and support your spiritual struggle.

Purity does caution that the fight against temptations

For it is a struggle it is.

The purity of the living souls of supernatural grace is preserved or never retain without a fight.

Blessed are you have received in your families, at the dawn of your life, from the cradle, with baptism, a higher life, the divine life. unconscious children a great gift and a great happiness, then you have not had to fight – as more mature souls less fortunate than you – to conquer such a high good; but you yourselves do not retain it without struggle.

If the purifying and sanctifying grace that has reconciled with God as daughters of adoption and heirs of heaven in your soul has erased the original sin, it has nonetheless left you sad legacy of Adam, who is this internal imbalance, the fight felt that even the great apostle Paul who, while taking delight in the law of God after the inward man, saw its members another law of sin (Romans 7.22 to 23), law passions and disorderly inclinations, which never allow themselves to fully tame, and with which, allied to the flesh and the world conspires an angel of Satan, the temptations molest souls.

This is the war that book between spirit and flesh so openly attested by Divine Revelation that with the exception of the Blessed Virgin, it is futile to imagine a life that can be both pure and lived without vigilance and without a fight.

Give not believe in the illusion of your soul insensible to excitations, invincible to the attractions and dangers. It is true that the habit often succeeds in making mind less susceptible to such impressions, especially when it is hijacked, absorbed in its forces by exercising a higher professional or intellectual activity. But imagine that all souls, so prone to passions can get unresponsive to stimuli caused by the images, colorful attractions of pleasure, stir and hold on the attention they would assume and believe that the malignant complicity these perilous instigations found in the instincts of the fallen human nature and disorderly can never stop or decrease.

… that the action of the “crusade” aims to support.

This inevitable fight, you will accept courageously and Christian.

The purpose of your joint action can not be to remove it completely, but it should aim to get that necessary spiritual battle is not made for more difficult and perilous souls by external circumstances, the atmosphere in which hearts who suffer the assaults must support and continue.

On the battlefields of the Church, or compete virtue and vice, you will always meet some characters whom God gave a fearless temper heroic. Supported by grace, they will leave no shake or hit by no pulse; they know openly maintained without corruption and pure amidst the filth around them, like a leaven of good fermentation and regeneration for the many souls – redeemed, too, by the blood of Christ – which mass around them.

Therefore, the purpose of your struggle is that Christian purity, salvation condition for souls becomes less difficult for all people of goodwill, so that the temptations born of external contingencies, do not exceed the limits of this resistance that ‘with the grace of God, poor force of many souls is able to oppose.

To achieve resolutions as holy and righteous as it is necessary to act on the environment and the flow of ideas that can influence effectively enough common action, so that individual and isolated action has limited or no effectiveness. If Unity makes strength, only a compact group and as many as possible of spirits resolved Christians and without fear, know where their conscience speaks and demands, shake off the yoke of some social, freedom from tyranny stronger today than ever, modes of all kinds, clothing patterns, patterns in the customs and social relationships.

Christian fashion design.

The method has, in itself, nothing bad.

It arises spontaneously from human sociability, following the impulse which inclines to be in harmony with others and with the habits of people among which were live.

God does not ask you to live out your time to stay indifferent to the demands of fashion as to make yourself ridiculous by dressing against taste and common uses of your contemporary, and never worry about it they like.

Thus the angelic St. Thomas Aquinas, he says that in external things of which man uses, there is no vice but the vice comes from the man who uses them immoderately compared to the uses of those with whom he lives, distinguishing itself in a strange way with the other, or by using things in a manner consistent or inconsistent with the established custom, but with a disordered sense, superabundance superbly decorated clothes, or worn with complacency or searched with exaggerated solicitude, while modesty and simplicity suffice to meet the decorum required ( Summa theologica , II has II ae , q. 169, art. 1, 2).

The same holy doctor finally adds that there meritorious act of virtue in feminine adornment when it conforms to the use, according to the state of the person and a good intention. When women wear decent ornaments in keeping with their status and dignity when they follow in this measure with the customs of their country, then adorn themselves is also an act of the virtue of moderation that prints a measured approach , attitude, clothing and all the outer movements (St. Thomas Aquinas, Expositio in Isaiam prophetam , ch. III, in fine ).

Attitude control that girls

In the attitude to adopt towards fashion, under the stars balance.

What God asks you is to remember always that fashion is not and can not be the supreme rule of your conduct, that above fashion and its requirements, there are higher and imperious laws , upper and immutable principles which in any case can not be sacrificed at the discretion of pleasure or caprice, and before whom the idol of fashion should know lowering his omnipotence fugitive.

These principles were proclaimed by God through the Church, by the saints and holy, by reason and Christian morality. These are signals that mark the limits beyond which do not flower lilies and roses, where purity, modesty, dignity and honor women not exhale their perfume, but where and reign breath unhealthy air lightness, ambiguous language, daring vanity, conceit in the heart as well as in clothing.

These are the principles that St. Thomas Aquinas states and recalls affecting the toilet of women ( Summa Theologica , II has II ae , q. 169, Art. 2), indicating what should be the order of our charity and our conditions: the good of our soul outweighs that of our body, and we must prefer to the advantage of our own bodies the good of the soul of our neighbor ( Ibid. , Q 26, s. 4-5. ).

So do not you see that there is a limit that no form of fashion can help overcome a limit beyond which fashion is a source of ruin for the soul of the woman and the ‘soul of another?

… who need to know the temptations they may cause.

Some girls may say that so determined to dress is more convenient and also more hygienic; but if it becomes for the salvation of the soul and a serious threat next, she certainly is not hygienic for your mind and it is your duty to give it up.

The desire to save their souls made heroic martyrs, such as Agnes and Cecilia, amid torments and lacerations their virginal body. You, sisters in faith in Christ’s love and esteem of virtue, you would not find in your heart the courage and strength to sacrifice a bit of well-being, a physical advantage, if we want to keep healthy and pure life of your souls?

If, for simple personal enjoyment, no one has the right to endanger the personal lives of others, is not it even less possible to compromise the salvation, so the very life of their souls?

If, as some claim, a bold fashion produces no bad impression on them, that they know the impression that others are feeling? Which insures that the others do not pull the wrong incentives?

You do not know the background of human frailty nor what corrupted blood runs off the wounds left in human nature by Adam’s sin with ignorance in intelligence, malice in the will, greed and fun weakness in respect of the property difficult in the passions of the senses to the point that man, soft as wax for evil, “sees what is best and approval, and attaches the worst” ( see Ovid, Metamorphoses 7: 20-21), because of the weight that always, like lead, leads to the bottom.

Oh ! how precisely it was observed that if some Christian suspected temptations and falls in others they cause by their dress and familiarities which, in their light, they give so little importance, they épouvanteraient their responsibility !

Advice for Christian mothers …

What we do not hesitate to add: O Christian mothers, if you knew what a future of anxieties and internal dangers, harm repressed doubts, bad contained shames you prepare your son and your daughters, by accustoming them imprudently living barely covered, making them lose the delicate sense of modesty, you blush of yourselves and you redouteriez shame you made to yourselves and the damage you cause to the children that heaven you entrusted to raise a Christian.

And what we say to mothers, we repeat many of believing women and even pious who, by agreeing to attend such bold fashion, are falling by their example the last hesitations that hold a lot of sisters away from this fashion which will become for them a source of spiritual ruin.

As long as certain provocative toilets remain the dubious notoriety and women of privilege as a sign that makes them recognize, we do not dare to adopt for himself. But when these toilets appear worn by people above all suspicion, we do not hesitate to go with the flow, a current that may cause the worst falls.

… and members of the “crusade.”

If he agrees that all Christian women have the courage to get in front of such serious moral responsibilities, you, dear girls, because of this strong feeling that you tapped into your faith and candor of virtue, you have glory of you being united paladines purity, in your holy crusade.

Isolated, your boldness would be of little value in opposing the invasion of the evil that surrounds you; closely united and framed, you will be strong enough and powerful legion to impose respect for the rights of Christian modesty.

Your sense of young Catholics, meaning refined and supported by the wisdom of faith and conscious practice of a solidly pious life, you will see and discern, in the light of the Spirit of God, with the help of his grace obtained through prayer and also with the help of advice requested those that Jesus Christ has placed as guides and teachers at your side, which, in the modes in the uses and the social conventions that come to you, fully acceptable, which is only tolerable, which is totally unacceptable.

The clear knowledge and deeply felt your job make you brave and loyal in mutual support, to accomplish it without hesitation, but with a resolution worthy of your youthful ardor.

Belle is the virtue of purity and smooth grace that shines not only in fact but also in speech that never oversteps the bounds of propriety and politeness and seasoning love the advice and warning . The chaste generation is also bursting with grace before God and before men.

In the days of trial, suffering, sacrifice and austere duties which we are, it is not afraid to go up all his power at the height of the serious obligations under Providence.

Today, dear daughters, the crusade for you is not in the sword, blood or martyrdom, but in the example, speech and exhortation. Against your energies and your designs stands, as a key enemy, the demon of impurity and licentiousness.

Raise your head high to heaven, where Christ and the Immaculate Virgin, his Mother, watching you. Be strong and unyielding in fulfilling your duty as Christians. Take the defense of the purity walking against corruption which softens youth. Give to your beloved country the service of inestimable value by working and cooperating effectively to spread in souls more purity and innocence; there, you will make them more cautious, more vigilant, straighter, stronger, more generous.

Grace, the Queen of Angels, winner of the insidious snake, all pure, all of high purity, supports and directs your efforts in this crusade that you inspired!

It bless your banner and crown candid trophies of your wins!

We plead in this direction, for the name of her divine Son We grant you with all my heart the Apostolic Blessing to you and to all those who have joined and will join you in your courageous campaign.


Pius XII, Address to young girls of Catholic Action of Rome, members of the crusade of purity , May 22, 1941.

URL source : http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/pt/cj5.htm#cm.

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