The word 'wimple' has a vague homophonic similarity to words like chapel, steeple, temple, Gospel and episcopal.

But 'wimple' much more closely rhymes with simple, dimple and pimple; hence a gorgeous word for jokey rhyming poems (nun of which you will find on this page).

Taking the veil

The wimple was a common head covering for women in biblical times (see Isa. 3:22 and Ruth 3:15. 

) and silk or linen wimples were worn in Europe in the Middle Ages. They were fastened all the way around the neck and up to the chin, to provide protection from the weather and became symbol of modesty.

It was an obvious garment for nuns to adopt; practical attire for their manual labours and a humble covering for their devotions.

'To take the veil' means to become a nun, and this phrase can be traced back to 1325. It was the donning of a plain uniform that would make them inconspicuous in the world.

Whoopi Goldberg as Sister Mary Clarence
Helen Prejean
Sister Helen Prejean

For this reason, and especially since Vatican II, many nuns today forgo wearing the distinctive uniform and wear normal 'street clothes' to help them become a part of the community instead of distancing themselves. A classic stereotype of a nun's attire was worn by Whoopi Goldberg as Delores in the movie Sister Act, but an increasingly common image of today's nun was shown by Susan Sarandon who played Sister Helen Prejean in the movie Dead Man Walking.

This is not the same in all cultures today. Some orders, the Bridgettine nuns for example, retain the wimple.

Return to main wedding veil page.

Other references to 'veil' in the Bible


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