The Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate
Church Teaching
A PAPAL DECREE CONCERNING MODESTY
HIS HOLINESS POPE PIUS XI

12 January 1930

By virtue of his supreme apostolate, whereby the universal Church is 
founded, by divine institution, Our Most Holy Lordship, Pope Pius XI never 
tires of reiterating the words of  St. Paul, to wit: “…women also in decent 
apparel: adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety, … but as it 
becometh women professing godliness, with good works…”  (I Tim II: 9-10)
Frequently, when the occasion has presented itself, the selfsame Holy 
Pontiff has reproved and bitterly condemned immodesty of dress pervasively 
introduced into use these days amongst Catholic women and girls, a thing 
which not only gravely offends feminine beauty and ornament, but leads most 
lamentably to the temporal and worse  still  the  eternal  ruin  of  these  same 
women and unto the ruin of others still.

It is no wonder then, that the bishops and other ordinaries, as befits the 
ministers of Christ, and each in his respective diocese, have opposed, by all 
means and with unanimous  voice,  such  misguided  license  and  brazen 
impudence, and tolerating the while with calm fortitude, on account of this, 
frequent derision and abuse, brought against them by souls of ill will.
So let this sacred consilium of the clergy and of the people, pursue the 
same sort of vigilance and action regarding the propagation of discipline as 
the holy bishops, with deserved approbation and praise and let it earnestly 
exhort these same men that they implement the counsels and the undertakings 
begun in due season, and urge them on generously and to the best of their 
ability, until this pestiferous sickness be completely rooted out from amongst 
the honest affairs of men.

That this aim might be brought the more easily and securely to effect, this 
sacred congregation, by the mandate of Our Most Holy Lord, decrees what 
follows to be enacted:

1.  May parish priests especially, and preachers when the occasion 
presents itself, and according to the words of St. Paul “…demand, reprove, 
beseech and rebuke…”  women to wear clothes that redolent of modesty and 
such other things as are the ornament and vanguard of virtue, and may they 
warn parents not to permit their children to wear unseemly dress.

2.  Parents, being ever mindful of the most awesome obligation which 
binds them  of caring firstly and foremostly for the moral and religious 
education of their children, are to apply particular diligence, that their 
daughters be firmly grounded in Christian doctrine and that those same 
daughters also zealously foster in their souls, by words and example, the love 
of virtues of modesty and chastity; may parents also, in imitation of the Holy 
Family, busy themselves about so ordering and governing their family, that 
each and every individual within the family home has a cause and incentive to 
love and guard modesty.

3.  Let those same parents prohibit their children from public athletic 
events and gymnastics competitions, or at least, if their daughters must be 
involved in them, that they take care to exhibit clothing which is fully in keeping
with modesty and that their parents never permit them to wear  
immodest clothing.

4.  May the governesses of colleges and instructresses of schools strive so 
to imbue the souls of young women with the love of modesty that these same 
young women are led efficaciously to modesty of dress.

5.  May those same governesses and instructresses, with no exception 
even to their own mothers, forbid admission to colleges and schools, to such 
women as wear unseemly clothing, and once admitted, if they fail to come to 
their senses, that they dismiss them.

6.  Let not religious, according to the letters given by the Sacred 
Congregation concerning Religious on August 13, 1928, admit young women 
into their colleges, schools, oratories, or gymnasia, who do not observe a 
Christian manner of dress, or if they have already been admitted, that they not 
tolerate those who do not observe a Christian manner of dress.  May they 
moreover take special pains in the education of their female students, so that 
the love of Christian modesty and holy reserve take deep root in their hearts.

7.  May pious associations of women be established and fostered, 
organizations which, by their counsel, example and deed, set before 
themselves the goal of checking the abuse of dress, which is not consistent 
with the dictates of Christian modesty, as well as the goal of promoting purity 
of morals and modesty of dress.

8.  Into the pious associations of women, let not those women be admitted 
who put on immodest clothing; and once admitted, if afterwards  they  commit 
a sin in this regard, and come not to their senses when admonished, may be 
expelled as well.

9.  Women and girls who wear immodest clothes are to be prohibited 
from Holy Communion and from the office of sponsor in the sacraments of 
Baptism and Confirmation, and in certain cases, they are to be prohibited even 
from entry into the church.

10.  When feasts occur throughout the year, which supply a particular 
opportunity to inculcate Christian modesty, and especially feasts of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary, may parish priests and priests of pious associations and 
heads of Catholic societies not fail, by means of a sermon for that occasion, to 
recall and encourage women, to a Christian manner of dress.  Every year year, 
on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let 
special prayers in all the cathedrals and parish churches be made, and, where 
possible, may timely exhortation be given to the people in the church.

11.  May diocesan counsels, discussed in a declaration of the Holy Office 
of March 22, 1918, in a spirit of vigilance, and at least once a year, openly deal 
with finding ever more suitable means and methods of effectively giving 
counsel on feminine modesty.

12.  To which point may salutary action, effectively and safely lead.  May 
bishops and other local ordinaries keep this sacred congregation informed, 
every third year, together with a report on religious institution given of our 
own accord in letters in the "Catholic World"  on June  29, 1923, even  concerning 
the condition of  things  and  the  state  surrounding  feminine  manner of dress, 
and concerning works carried out in accordance with the rule of this 
instruction. 

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STANDARDS FOR MODESTY IN DRESS

"There always exists an absolute norm to be preserved in modesty of dress."
(Pope Pius XII)


“In order that uniformity in understanding  prevail...we recall that a dress cannot be 
 called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers 

breadth under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at least to 
the elbows; and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees.   Furthermore, dresses 
of transparent materials are improper.” (The Cardinal Vicar of Pope Pius XI). 

1. Marylike is modest without compromise, “like Mary,” Christ’s mother. 

2. Marylike dresses have sleeves extending at least to the elbows; and skirts 
reaching below the knees.
[Note: Because of impossible market conditions quarter-length sleeves are temporarily 
tolerated  with  Ecclesiastical  Approval,  until  Christian  womanhood  again  turns  to 
Mary as the model of modesty in dress.]

3. Marylike dress requires full coverage for the bodice, chest, shoulders and 
back; except for a cut-out about the neck not exceeding two inches  below  the 
neckline in front and in back and a corresponding two inches on the 
shoulders.

4. Marylike dresses do not admit as modest coverage transparent fabrics —
laces, nets, organdy, nylons, etc.  —  unless  sufficient  backing  is  added.  
However, their moderate use as trimmings is acceptable.

5. Marylike dresses do not admit the use improper of flesh-colored fabrics.

6. Marylike dresses conceal rather than reveal the figure of the wearer; they do 
not unduly emphasize the parts of the body.

7. Marylike dresses provide full coverage —  even  after  the  jacket, cape  or 
stole are removed.


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