One Can Sin against Modesty by Negligence in Dress – Fr. Antonio Royo Marín, O.P.

Antonio Royo Marín, O.P. (Morella, Castellón, 1913 – Villava, 17 April 2005), was a Spanish Dominican priest and theologian. He was an influential theologian and moralist, specially as a Thomist.

He was the third of seven children. He moved with his family to Madrid in 1928, aged 15 years old. He soon joined the Catholic Union of Atocha. He asked to join the Dominican novitiate, but a bout of tuberculosis made him return to his family home. He started studying Philosophy at Madrid Seminary, probably in 1934/35. He was captured twice by Republican militiamen during the Spanish Civil War but escaped execution. He later said that he believed that he wasn’t worthy of martyrdom, and because of this God spared his life.

He joined the Dominican Order in 1939 and was ordained a priest in 1944. He was a teacher of Moral and Dogmatic Theology at the University of San Estebán, in Salamanca. He was approved “summa cum laudem” with his Doctorate thesis, Teología de la Perfección Cristiana (Theology of the Christian Perfection), in June 1948, published in 1954, which would became his most famous work, being translated into several languages.

He was awarded the medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice by Pope John Paul II.


Modesty is a virtue derived from temperance which inclines the individual to conduct himself in his internal and external movements and in his dress in accordance with the just limits of his state in life and position in society. (St. Thomas, Summa, II-II, q. 160)

Modesty is a virtue by which one observes proper decorum in his gestures and bodily movements, in his postures and in the way he dresses. In the matter of modesty, it is necessary to attend especially to two considerations: the dignity of each person and of those who are in his company.

Bodily modesty has great importance both for the individual and for society. Ordinarily, a person is judged by externals, and for this reason any inordinate movement, staring, indiscreet glances or any other uncontrolled movements are generally interpreted as signs of an inordinate and unruly interior. With good reason does St. Augustine recommend in his Rule that individuals should be especially careful to observe external modesty of deportment lest they scandalize their neighbors.

And, we read in Sacred Scripture: “One can tell a man by his appearance; a wise man is known as such when first met. A man’s attire, his hearty laughter and his gait proclaim him for what he is” (Eccles 19:25-26)

The vices opposed to modesty of demeanor are affectations and rusticity or rudeness.

As regards modesty of dress, St. Thomas states that any sin that arises in this matter is due to something immoderate on the part of the person in view of particular circumstances. (St. Thomas, Summa, II-II, q. 169, a. 1) This immoderation may be due to a lack of conformity to the customs of the persons with whom one lives, or to an excessive attachment and concern in regard to clothing and personal adornment. It may become inordinate because of vanity, sensuality or excessive interest in one’s apparel.

It may also happen that one could sin against modesty of clothing by being deficient in a concern for one’s personal attire, for example, if one were to be unreasonably negligent in dressing according to this state in life, or were to seek to attract attention by his lack of concern in his manner of dressing (ibid a. 2).

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