The Habit of the Romualdians

“Romualdians” may have been a term used by others to refer to St Romuald’s disciples; certainly it would not have been one thought of by St Romuald himself.  To St Romuald he was not creating a new monasticism rather reforming Benedictine Life since it had fallen away from the intent of St Benedict.  Or perhaps this nomenclature (Romualdians) was conceived by scholars to refer to the period of St Romuald’s ministry before 1072 when the heterodox pope Gregory VII gave the name by papal bull “Camaldolese” to all those, by that time, descended from the Romualdian Period. As one can see, the Orthodox Romualdians became lost to history over the Roman Camaldolese. Likewise the habit the Romualdians wore we have little knowledge. The contemporary Catholic monks all wear white habits.  Since St Romuald’s efforts was to return to the founder’s intent we may speculate that the habits, in St Benedict’s words:

“We believe that for each monk a cowl and tunic will suffice in temperate regions; in winter a woolen cowl is necessary in summer a thinner or worn one;  also a scapular for work, and footwear–both sandals and shoes.  Monks must not complain about the color or coarseness of all these articles, but use what is available in the vicinity at a reasonable cost. However, the abbot ought to be concerned about the measurements of these garments that they not be too short but fitted to the wearers”. (RSB 55:4-8)

In the 6th century dyes were of great expense while the Christian monks were purposefully poor.  We know therefore that the earliest Benedictine robes were of undyed cloth.  This would have appeared as off-white or “drab” (a dull light-brown).  This is likely where the Roman Camaldolese came up with white garments.  We Romualdians of the Orthodox Church neither wished to emulate the Romans nor to divert too far from our Eastern monastic brethrens.  Black and grey were chosen not necessarily to create a distinction from our fellow Benedictines within Orthodoxy or from the Eastern monks.  Black and grey might well place us somewhere in-between.  Nevertheless, black represents our life of repentance; grey represents our monastic poverty.  Such poverty is not exclusive as being in opposition to wealth rather, spiritual poverty as it reminds the wearer that his or her life must be an unceasing struggle of kenotic identity exemplified in the words of the last Old Testament prophet, St John the Baptist, “He (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) and in the word’s of St. Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:19+) and “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” (Phil. 1:21).  One of the vows we make as Benedictine monks is vow of Conversatio Morum (loosely translated ‘conversion of morals’).  Romualdians view this as striving to ever more be ‘self-emptying’ (kenosis) which leads towards a “poverty of spirit” and a “purity of heart”.  The Romualdian lives daily abandoning oneself into a Life-in-Christ fully lived.

            The Romualdian’s Monastic Habit  

The Monastic Novice & the Intern Oblate are permitted to wear a shortened tunic (sometimes called work habit) with leather belt; and secular pants.


The Simple Vowed Monk
being an equivalent to the rasaphore
with an under-tunicblack tunic, leather belt, brojanice (prayer rope or rosary) and grey colette (skufia).

Romualdian Nuns

Underskirts, black tunic, leather belt, brojanice and grey wimple 


The Solemn Vowed Monk
being an equivalent to the stavrophore with the addition of Paraman beneath the tunic, A. grey hooded scapular B Mantíya (cape with hood) or ryasa C and a veil attached to a hard skull cap (being a variation of the cowl & klobuk).

add to the above:

grey scapular, paraman, black veil atop of grey under veil, & mantiya


The Perpetual Vowed Monk
being an equivalent to the megaloschemos (Great Schema) is added the A Cuculla and B Analavos

added here
as with the monks

Cuculla (secured in front, i.e., not a tunic as in the photo) & hooded Analavos


Lay Romualdian Oblate wear a shortened scapular beneath their clothes.  The Oblate Scapular is not for show but a constant reminder to the wearer that they voluntarily bound themselves (by association & emulation) to the monastic way adapted to one’s life in-the-world. Illustration below differs slightly from the actual garb.


Comparatively, portions of the Eastern Orthodox monastic habit as worn by the three degrees of monastics is as follows:

Rasophore Stavrophore Great Schema
Inner Rason Inner Rason Inner Rason
Belt Belt Belt
  Paramand Paramand
Outer Rason Outer Rason Outer Rason
  Mantle (Russian use only) Mantle
Kalymafki Kalymafki Koukoulion