The spiritual values contained in the sign of the habit are so profound that they still deserve much consideration. The habit covers the body, but also the spirit of a brother and sister and must always be used with feelings of humility, harmony, penance of the heart, sacrifice, prayer and the anonymity of good.
The confraternity habit, therefore, cannot be assumed superficially: the Rite of the Vestition, which must be celebrated according to the Liturgy, gives due emphasis to the rich meaning of the habit and the profound values it expresses. From this point of view, the habit indicates a public manifestation of one’s faith and therefore recalls the commitment to live Christianly and consistently with the promises made.
The dress is made up of various parts, each with its own meaning.
The tunic: originally worn by the Confreres, it was made in the alb as it is still today, to recall the tunic worn by Jesus in his redemptive Passion. Wearing the habit, the brothers and sisters remember that they have put on Christ and belong to him, there must therefore no longer be a lack of harmony between spirit and life. The habit is distinctive of charity and love for the most needy and indicates the spirit of sacrifice with which the brothers and sisters are required to face the duty of solidarity, carrying out their service in the many forms of voluntary service according to the Christian spirit. The habit is therefore a significant emblem for the decorous and public expression of worship and for the generous service of charity. It is the same for everyone, because it indicates that all the brothers (“as-brothers” or “with-brothers”) and sisters are equal to each other, they are all children of God. The habit is personal both in life and in death; it must be blessed and officially delivered with the appropriate Dressing Rite; it must be carefully preserved and carried with dignity by every brother and sister.
The cape: blue, that is the Marian color par excellence. It is the color of the sky, it prefigures the eternal glory in which the Madonna has already been assumed. The cape has a badge on the side of the heart, called a “coat of arms”.
The coat of arms: as a sign of the imprint on the cape from the heart band, there is the coat of arms with the monogram “Ave Maria” embroidered in gold on a blue background, above it an imperial crown and under a waning crescent, in memory of the liberation of Vienna by the Muslims on 12 September 1683.
The hood: a sign of humility and concealment. When this is placed on the face it does not allow to be recognized, which indicates the anonymity of good works. Faithfulness to Jesus’ exhortations is thus stimulated and continually recalled: “Your left may not know what your right is doing”. In the symbolism of the hood we can see a further meaning: the hood hides the person, but this does not happen to mask their identity, but to further strengthen the cancellation of the difference of social class (they are united: the rich with the poor, the educated with the less educated, etc.).
The cord: to encircle the hips. It is a reminder of the ropes with which the Lord was bound. It serves to feel close to him, to his law, and to have moral self-control. Sometimes the cord has knots (usually three, five or seven) that recall some moments of the Passion (the three falls on the way to Calvary; the five Holy Wounds of the Crucifix; His seven outpourings of Blood) and invite to acts of devotion.