Our Habit: Crimson Robes
Why is our apparel red?
Why do the Handmaids wear red? Precisely, why do we wear wine-red? And white veils? What do the symbols of the habit and veil mean?
When our Founder, Father Gerald, penned his poem, “Crimson Robes” (see poem below) he had in mind both the crimson robes worn by the Crucified Christ as well as the garment he had in mind for his spiritual daughters, the Handmaids of the Precious Blood. Father Gerald stipulated that he desired his Handmaids to dress in the wine-red color symbolic of the Precious Blood of Christ shed for our salvation and the white veil symbolizing the white Host of the Eucharist.
Although slight variations have occurred in our 70 year plus history, Handmaids have always worn a full habit and full white veil.
All Handmaids, novices and professed, wear a white veil.
First professed Sisters receive a triangular emblem over the heart on the scapular. The scapular emblem, designed by Father Gerald, pays tribute to the Blessed Trinity in its three sided shape, Our Lady in the blue outline, and the Priesthood in the Holy Spirit being called down upon a golden chalice.
Finally professed Sisters receive a simple silver ring depicting two hearts on each side of a chalice of the Precious Blood.
Handmaids also wear a full length side Rosary and cincture.
Why is Thy Apparel red my Bridegroom?
The bleeding grapes make answer on Thy way.
Oh, tread the wine press not alone, Beloved.
Behold I follow, Jesu, trahe me!*
Thy own most Precious Blood adorns Thee, Jesus.
This “garment” I desire – Oh, make it mine!
Immerse me in Thy overflowing Chalice
That I find raiment, too, in Love’s Pure Wine.
Thou art Thyself the one Eternal High Priest,
And yet thy boundless Goodness doth impart
To many souls a Sacerdotal calling,
To offer LOVE to LOVE with LOVE’S own Heart!
For such as these accept my life’s oblation—
I daily pray their number be increased,
And beg for each already consecrated,
The grace to live and die a Holy Priest.
If Thy anointed ones have this misfortune,
That from their sacred calling they depart,
Accept my life’s atonement, humbly offered
And lead them back, Good Shepherd to Thy Heart.
* “Jesu, trahe me” is Latin for “Jesus, draw me.”