Early Christian veiling

Below are some interesting texts I came across on reddit. A link to the original post is at the bottom of this page.

These quotes are sourced from A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, edited by David Bercot, published by Hendrickson Publishers, unless stated otherwise.

“It has been commanded that the head should be veiled and the face covered. For it is a wicked thing for beauty to be a snare to men. Nor is it appropriate for a woman to desire to make herself conspicuous by using a purple veil.”

— Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215)

On searching up this quote I found another source:

“But I do not wish chaste women to afford cause for such praises to those who, by praises, hunt after grounds of censure; and not only because it is prohibited to expose the ankle, but because it has also been enjoined that the head should be veiled and the face covered; for it is a wicked thing for beauty to be a snare to men. Nor is it seemly for a woman to wish to make herself conspicuous, by using a purple veil. Would it were possible to abolish purple in dress, so as not to turn the eyes of spectators on the face of those that wear it! But the women, in the manufacture of all the rest of their dress, have made everything of purple, thus inflaming the lusts.”

— Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215), [Paedagogus (The Instructor), Book II]

In fact, if you read the entire document linked above, most of the quotes from Clement listed here below are found in it (with slightly different wording, probably due to different translations).

It is worth noting Clement of Alexandria is a Church Father and considered a Saint.

“Such a covering should be worn as is necessary for covering the eyes of women”

— Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215)

“Luxurious clothing that cannot conceal the shape of the body is no more a covering. For such clothing, falling close to the body, take its form more easily. Clinging to the body as though it were the flesh, it receives its shape and outlines the woman's figure. As a result, the whole make of the body is visible to spectators, although they cannot see the body itself”

— Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215)

“Women for the most part wear shoes. For it is not suitable for the foot to be shown naked. Besides, woman is a tender thing, easily hurt.”

— Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215)

“Woman and man are to go to church decently attired, with natural step, embracing silence... Let the woman observe this, further: Let her be entirely covered, unless she happens to be at home. For that style of dress is serious and protects from being gazed at. And she will never fall, who puts before her eyes modest and her veil. Nor will she invite another to fall into sin by uncovering her face. For this is the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled.”

— Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215)

“By no means are women to be allowed to uncover and exhibit any part of their bodies, lest both fall – the men by being incited to look, and the women by attracting themselves to the eyes of the men”

— Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215)

“Be veiled, virgin, if you really are a virgin. For you should blush. If you are a virgin, shrink from the gaze of many eyes. let no one admire your face. Let no one perceive your falsehood”

— Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 240)

In the above quote he's arguing the veiling is not only for married women but virgins as well

“It behooves our virgins to be veiled from the time that they have passed the turning point of their age. This observance is required by truth”

— Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 240)

“For some, with their turbans and woolen bands, do not veil their heads, but bind them up. They are protected, indeed, in front. However, they are bare where the head properly lies. Others are to a certain extent covered over the region of the brain with linen doilies of small dimensions ... which do not quite reach the ears ... Let them know that the whole head constitutes the woman. Its limits and boundaries reach as far as the place where the robe begins. The region of the veil is co-extensive with the space covered by the hair when unbound ... Arabia's pagan females will be your judges. For they cover not only the head, but the face also.”

— Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 240)

“First, then, blessed sisters, take heed that you do not admit to your use of flashy and sluttish garbs and clothing.”

— Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 240)

“When you are in the streets, cover your head. For by such a covering, you will avoid being viewed by idle persons... Look downward when you walk in public, veiling yourself, as becomes a woman.”

— Apostolic Constitutions (compiled around c. 375 to 380) [Source]

Credit to this reddit post for the quotes.

Anyways, the above quotes should not come as any real shock as there is a precedent for this in the New Testament itself.

I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone is disposed to be contentious—we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God. [1 Corinthians 11:2-16 NRSV translation]