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The cincture as part of the Augustinian habit

11 Sep 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Augustinians

Augustinians are men and women who dedicated their lives to following Christ in the spirit of St. Augustine, calling nothing their own but posses everything in common like the early Christian community.

The Augustinians are easily recognizable by their habit. The Augustinian habit is uniquely Augustinian; a religious habit is a distinctive set of garments worn by members of a religious order; it is a form of identification that constantly reminds the religious of their consecration to God. Though this habit does not make a monk, it is an outward-sign that reflects what we are called to be and are.

There are many different religious habit as there are different religious congregations, the Augustinians are uniquely one among many, and with a unique habit.

One special part of our habit is the cincture, the long black leather belt tied around the waist. This Augustinian cincture is always black in color, even though the habit itself may either be white or black, depending on the region. The cincture is, however, always black in color.

The story behind the Augustinian black cincture is amazing. Tradition has it that it was a gift from the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. Monica was gifted with that cincture in her moment of anxiety and worries over the waywardness of her son Augustine. Our Lady who was honoured under the title of “Our Lady of consolation” appeared to the anxious and worried mother of St. Augustine, and in a way of consoling and assuring her of her Maternal intercession gifted her with a cincture and with a promise to console who so ever wear the cincture. Monica later narrated her vision to Augustine and eventually handed the cincture to him. The black cincture eventually became part of the Augustinian habit, a religious community formed by St. Augustine.

Generally, Catholic clergy wear cincture with different colours mostly reflecting the colours of the liturgical season. This cincture is certainly not the same as the Augustinian’s. The general liturgical cincture is traditionally linked to the ancient conviction that virgins wore cinctures as a sign of purity, so also the clergy wears cincture as part of their liturgical regalia to constantly remind them of their vow to remain chaste. The Augustinian cincture could also serve the same purpose.

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