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On a recent trip a nice nun took a picture of my family. I noticed that the nun was wearing a wedding band on her left hand. I have a vague recollection of reading somewhere that nuns are considered to be “brides of Christ”, which leads to my two-part question.

Do all nuns wear these symbolic wedding bands? If not, is this practice limited to certain religious orders, or is it an individual choice?

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    I believe priests wear a wedding band as well since they are "married to God". – TronicZomB Jul 30 '13 at 19:25
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    @TronicZomB: I have never seen a traditional priest or nun wear a wedding band. Bishops, however, wear a ring because that belongs to their office. Any priest who wears one is probably also a promoter of the married clergy. – Geremia Sep 27 '14 at 3:20
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Roman Catholic nuns consider themselves a "Bride of Christ," and as such wear a wedding ring. This of course assumes that the nun you saw was a Roman Catholic nun. Some nuns (or similar laity, such as Lutheran deaconesses) in other faiths are not bound by the same celibacy vows or simply do not wear wedding rings.

More information: Wikipedia - Black Veil

  • I believe that in most Protestant denominations the designation of monk or nun is associated with a celibate lifestyle, even if the denomination does not require it. Many Protestants draw a distinction between a call to celibacy and simply choosing to remain unmarried, though they do not emphasize it as a prerequisite for ministry in an official capacity (e.g. taking on roles equivalent to Catholic priesthood). – Kyle Willey Feb 20 at 5:56
  • Your answer is not exactly correct. Generally speaking nuns of Religious Orders not governed by an abbess, may wear a ring after their solemn profession (such as Poor Clares). In true monastic monasteries governed by an abbess, only the abbess wears a ring as a sign of jurisdiction. – Ken Graham Feb 20 at 14:26
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Do all nuns wear these symbolic wedding bands? If not, is this practice limited to certain religious orders?

Rings may be worn by some members of female Catholic religious institutions or Religious Orders. The privilege also extends to Consecrated Virgins living in the world.

In 1963 the Second Vatican Council requested a revision of the rite of the consecration of virgins that was found in the Roman Pontifical. The revised Rite was approved by Pope Paul VI and published in 1970. This consecration could be bestowed either on women in monastic orders or on women living in the world, which revived the form of life that had been found in the early Church. - Consecrated virgin.

The tradition of women wearing a ring, as a sign of their mystical marriage to Our Lord as "Brides of Christ" is deeply rooted in the Church as early as the fourth century!

The plain rings worn by certain orders of nuns and conferred upon them in the course of their solemn profession, according to the ritual provided in the Roman Pontifical appear to find some justification in ancient tradition. St. Ambrose (P.L., XVII, 701, 735) speaks as though it were a received custom for virgins consecrated to God to wear a ring in memory of their betrothal to their heavenly Spouse. This delivery of a ring to professed nuns is also mentioned by several medieval Pontificals, from the twelfth century onwards. - Catholic Encyclopedia.

Generally speaking nuns of Religious Orders not governed by an abbess, may wear a ring after their solemn profession (such as Poor Clares).

Abbesses don a ring as symbol of authority over the monastery of her community. The other member of her community do not wear rings.

Like an abbot, after being confirmed in her office by the Holy See, an abbess is solemnly admitted to her office by a formal blessing, conferred by the bishop in whose territory the monastery is located, or by an abbot or another bishop with appropriate permission. Unlike the abbot, the abbess receives only the ring, the crosier, and a copy of the rule of the order. She does not receive a mitre as part of the ceremony. - Abbess (Wikipedia).

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Actually, Orthodox nuns (and monks) have vows of celibacy also:

The monastic vows are essentially not different from those taken at baptism, with the exception of the vow of celibacy. (Source: Orthodox Christian Monasticism)

And they do not wear rings, since they believe Christ to have one Bride, the Church. For example, see these pictures:

Russian Orthodox nuns Greek Orthodox nun
(source: msn.com)

  • I removed your last two paragraphs because they are entirely irrelevant for this question. But decent answer otherwise! – curiousdannii Apr 12 '15 at 0:19
  • This is more of a correction to the other answer than an answer in its own right. – Mr. Bultitude Apr 12 '15 at 18:55
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There are many Orders! So many ways to serve the Lord ≋♥≋ All Nuns are Brides of Christ but they may (or may not) wear a wedding ring depending on the tradition of the Order.

And some that received a ring during final vows simply don't wear it because of their work.

Regarding vows

Nuns and Monks take the traditional three: poverty, chastity and obedience (Priests do NOT vow poverty) and Orders often have extra vows- for example, Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity vow "service to the poorest of the poor"

Things To Ponder

Consecrated Virgins wear wedding rings but do not receive a habit; they live in the world but are not of the world. Some Religious Orders are discalced (no shoes/possibly sandals) some are vegetarian & some receive Communion under one form only, having taken a vow of temperance.

protected by Community Sep 8 '15 at 8:29

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