A collection of modesty quotes and sayings from Popes, Saints and Devout Souls.
“Those who glory in their looks – not in their hearts – dress to please others.” Saint Clement of Alexandria
“You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not, indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment, and much more effectively than you could by your voice. When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent? Tell me, whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges in court punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death-dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body, but the soul. And it is not to enemies that you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity, nor provoked by injury, but out of foolish vanity and pride.” Saint John Chrysostom
“Either we must speak as we dress, or dress as we speak. Why do we profess one thing and display another? The tongue talks of chastity, but the whole body reveals impurity.” Saint Jerome
“Purity is a precious jewel, and the owner of a precious stone would never dream of making a display of his riches in the presence of thieves.” Saint John Bosco
“It might be said that society speaks through the clothing it wears. Through its clothing it reveals its secret aspirations and uses it, at least in part, to build or destroy its future.” Pope Pius XII
“But by no manner of means are women to be allotted to uncover and exhibit any part of their person, lest both fall,–the men by being excited to look, they by drawing on themselves the eyes of the men.” Saint Clement of Alexandria
“Luxurious clothing that cannot conceal the shape of the body is no more a covering. For such clothing, falling close to the body, takes its form more easily. Clinging to the body as though it were the flesh, it receives its shape and outlines the woman’s figure. As a result, the whole make of the body is visible to spectators, although they cannot see the body itself.” Saint Clement of Alexandria
“The good of our soul is more important than that of our body; and we have to prefer the spiritual welfare of our neighbor to our bodily comforts. . . If a certain kind of dress constitutes a grave and proximate occasion of sin, and endangers the salvation of your soul and others, it is your duty to give it up.” Pope Pius XII
“We must practice modesty, not only in our looks, but also in our whole deportment, and particularly in our dress, our walk, our conversation, and all similar actions.” Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
“Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.” Catechism of the Catholic Church §2521
“There are mothers who have so little religion or, if you like, are so ignorant that if they want to show off their baby to some neighbouring mothers, they will show it to them naked. Others, when they are putting on diapers, will leave the babies, for a long period of time, uncovered before everyone. Now even if there is no one present at all, you should not do this. Should you not respect the presence of their Guardian Angels? It is the same thing when you are feeding them. Should any Christian mother allow her breasts to remain exposed? And even if they are covered, should she not turn aside to some place where there is no one else? Then there are others who, under the pretext of being foster-nurses, are continually only half-covered. This is very disgusting. It is enough to make even the pagans blush. People are compelled to avoid their company in order not to expose themselves to evil thoughts.
But, you will say to me, even if everyone is around, we must feed our children and change their diapers when they cry! And I shall tell you that when they cry, you ought to do everything you possibly can to quieten them but that it is a far better thing to let them cry a little than to offend God. Alas! How many mothers are the cause of evil glances, of bad thoughts, of immodest touches! Tell me, are these the Christian mothers who should be so reserved? Oh, dear God! What judgment should they expect? Others are so cruel that they let their children run around for the whole morning, during the summer, only half-dressed. Tell me, unhappy people, would it not be better for you to take your places among the savage beasts? Where is your religion, then, and your anxiety to do your duty? Alas! As far as religion is concerned, you have none. As for your duties, have you ever known what they were? That you have not, you give proof every day. Ah, poor children, how unfortunate you are to belong to such parents!” Saint Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney
“For those women sin against God when they rub their skin with ointments, stain their cheeks with rouge, and make their eyes prominent with antimony. To them, I suppose, the artistic skill of God is displeasing!” Tertullian of Carthage
“In all your movements, let nothing be evident that would offend the eyes of another.” Saint Augustine of Hippo
“A special danger to morals is represented by public bathing at beaches, in pool and river banks. . . Mixed bathing between men and women, which nearly always is a proximate occasion of sin and a scandal, must be avoided.” Cardinal Pia y Daniel
“One cannot sufficiently deplore the blindness of so many women of every age and condition; made foolish by desire to please, they do not see to what a degree the indecency of their clothing shocks every honest man, and offends God.
Most of them would formerly have blushed for those outfits as for a grave fault against Christian modesty; now it does not suffice for them to exhibit them on the public thoroughfares; they do not fear to cross the threshold of the churches, to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and even to bear the seducing food of shameful passions to the Eucharistic Table where one receives the Heavenly Author of purity.
And we speak not of these exotic and barbarous dances recently imported into fashionable circles, one more shocking than the other; one cannot imagine anything more suitable for banishing all the remains of modesty. ” Pope Benedict XV
“The most insidious of sophisms are usually repeated to justify immodesty and seem to be the same everywhere.” Pope Pius XII
“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 knee. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper. Let parents keep their daughters away from public gymnastic games and contests; but, if their daughters are compelled to attend such exhibitions, let them see to it that they are fully and modestly dressed. Let them never permit their daughters to don immodest garb.” The Sacred Congregation of the Council (by the mandate of Pope Pius XI), January 12, 1930 A.D.
“Frequent not the company of immodest persons, especially if they be also impudent, as is generally the case; …these corrupted souls and infected hearts scarcely speak to any, either of the same or a different sex, without causing them to fall in some degree from purity; they have poison in their eyes and in their breath, like basilisks. On the contrary, keep company with the chaste and virtuous; often meditate upon and read holy things; for the word of God is chaste, and makes those also chaste that delight in it.” Saint Francis de Sales, Introduction to a Devout Life, Part Third, Chapter XIII.
“Be neat, Philothea; let nothing be negligent about you. It is a kind of contempt of those with whom we converse, to frequent their company in uncomely apparel; but, at the same time, avoid all affectation, vanity, curiosity, or levity in your dress. Keep yourself always, as much as possible, on the side of plainness and modesty, which, without doubt, is the greatest ornament of beauty, and the best excuse for the want of it.” Saint Francis de Sales, Introduction to a Devout Life, Part Third, Ch. 25
“By Padre Pio’s explicit wish, women must enter the confessional wearing skirts AT LEAST 8 INCHES BELOW THE KNEE. IT IS FORBIDDEN TO BORROW LONGER DRESSES IN CHURCH AND TO WEAR THEM TO CONFESSION.”
“The Church is the house of God. It is forbidden for men to enter with bare arms or in shorts. It is forbidden for women to enter in trousers, without a veil on their head, in short clothing, low necklines, sleeveless or immodest dresses.” Saint Padre Pio
“the sins which bring most souls to hell are the sins of the flesh. Certain fashions are going to be introduced which will offend Our Lord very much… the Church has no fashions; Our Lord is always the same…” Our Lady of Fatima to Blessed Jacinta Marto
“How beautiful then is modesty and what a gem among virtues it is.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux
“Modesty in a woman is the sign that Jesus Christ dwells in her heart. It is a sweet perfume of edification which she is called upon to diffuse.” Fatima Crusader
“The Church asks no more of women with their modesty of dress/conduct as She exhorts men to be with their eyes.” Lawrence Scheeler
“How many young girls there are who do not see any wrongdoing in following certain shameless styles like so many sheep. They certainly would blush if they could guess the impression they make and the feelings they evoke in those who see them. Do they not see the harm resulting from excess in certain gymnastic exercises and sports not suitable for virtuous girls? What sins are committed or provoked by conversations which are too free, by immodest shows, by dangerous reading. How lax have consciences become, how pagan morals!” Pope Pius XII, July 17, 1954
“Avoid failing, not only against purity, but even against the least rules of an exact modesty.” St. Paul of the Cross
“Beyond fashion and its demands, there are higher and more pressing laws, principles superior to fashion, and unchangeable, which under no circumstances can be sacrificed to the whim of pleasure or fancy, and before which must bow the fleeting omnipotence of fashion. These principles have been proclaimed by God, by the Church, by the Saints, by reason, by Christian morality.” Pope Pius XII
“When she was thrown into the air by a savage bull in the amphitheatre at Carthage, her first thought and action when she fell to the ground was to rearrange her dress to cover her thigh, because she was more concerned for modesty than pain.” Pope Pius XII, Allocution to the Girls of Catholic Action, speaking of Saint Perpetua
“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
“The parish priest and especially the preacher, when occasion arises, should according to the words of the Apostle Paul (2 Tim. iv, 2) insist, argue, exhort and command that feminine garb be based on modesty and womanly ornament be a defense of virtue. Let them likewise admonish parents to cause their daughters to cease wearing indecorous dress.” Decree of the Congregation of the Council (by the mandate of Pope Pius XI), 1930 A.D.
“These principles with due regard to time and place, must, in accordance with Christian prudence, be applied to all schools, particularly in the most delicate and decisive period of formation, that, namely, of adolescence; and in gymnastic exercises and deportment special care must be had of Christian modesty in young women and girls which is so gravely impaired by any kind of exhibition in public.” Pope Pius XI, ‘Divini Illus Magistri’, 1929 A.D.
“Women must be decently dressed, especially when they go to church. The parish priest may, with due prudence, refuse them entrance to the church and access to the reception of the Sacraments [each] and every time that they come to church immodestly dressed.” General Pastoral Directive, 1915 A.D.
“We lament, too, the destruction of purity among women and young girls as is evidenced by the increasing immodesty of their dress and conversation and by their participation in shameful dances.” Pope Pius XI
“Girls and women dressed immodestly are to be debarred from Holy Communion and from acting as sponsors at the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation; further, if the offense be extreme, they may even be forbidden to enter the church.” Decree of the Congregation of the Council (by the mandate of Pope Pius XI), 1930 A.D.
“Louis of Granada speaks of a young woman whose damnation had no other source than vanity and the desire to please. She led a regular life, but her passion to attract attention by the charm of her beauty was the moving cause of her whole conduct. Having fallen sick, she died, having received all the Sacraments. While her confessor was praying for her soul, she appeared to him, saying that she was damned, and that the cause of her damnation was vanity. ‘I sought,’ she added, ‘only to please the eyes of men. This passion caused me to commit a multitude of sins; it prevented me from receiving the Sacraments well, and it has led me to everlasting torments.'”Rev. F.X. Schouppe, S.J.
“A mortal sin of scandal is committed by women who go about with their bosom immodestly exposed, or who expose their limbs improperly. Also by actors in immodest comedies, and still more by the persons who compose such comedies; also by painters who paint obscene pictures, and by the heads of families who keep such pictures in their houses. The father who speaks obscenely, or blasphemes the saints, in presence of his children, and the mother who brings into her house to live among her daughters young men who are in love with them, or betrothed to them, or other suspected persons, are guilty of a still more grievous sin of scandal. Some mothers say: do not suspect any evil. I answer, that it is their duty to suspect; otherwise they will have to render to God an account of all the sins which may follow.
Woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh. Listen to a horrible thing that happened in the city of Savona in the year 1560. I have read it in the chronicles of the Capuchins, and it is also related by Father Ardia. There was a woman who, even after marriage, did not cease giving scandal. This woman one day fell into a fit, and while she was in a state of unconsciousness, she saw the Lord condemning her to eternal fire. When she recovered the use of her senses, she did nothing but cry out, “Alas! I am damned, I am damned!” A confessor came to comfort her, but she answered, “What have I to do with confession? I am damned.” Then her daughter approached the bed, in order to encourage her, but she cried out: “Ah, accursed child! on your account, too, I am damned: for through you I have given scandal to others.” After these words the devils, in presence of all who were in the apartment, raised her up to the ceiling, and then dashed her so violently against the floor that she instantly expired.” Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
“The body should be bedecked naturally and without affectation, with simplicity, with neglect rather than nicety, not with costly and dazzling apparel, but with ordinary clothes, so that nothing be lacking to honesty and necessity, yet nothing be added to increase its beauty.” Saint Ambrose of Milan
“Whatever is born is the work of God. So whatever is plastered on, is the devil’s work…. How unworthy of the Christian name it is to wear a fictitious face — you on whom simplicity in every form is enjoined! You, to whom lying with the tongue is not lawful, are lying in appearance.” Tertullian of Carthage
“If you desire to be one of the faithful and to please the Lord, O wife, do not add adornments to your beauty, in order to please other men. Do not wear fine embroidery, garments, or shoes, to entice those who are allured by such things. It may be that you do not do these wicked things for the purpose of sinning yourself — but only for the sake of adornment and beauty. Nevertheless, you still will not escape future punishment for having compelled another to look so close at you as to lust after you.” Apostolic Constitutions
“To dye oneself with paints in order to have a rosier or a paler complexion is a lying counterfeit.” Saint Augustine of Hippo
“What does God think of spurious beauty, rejecting utterly as He does all falsehood?” Saint Clement of Alexandria
“Moreover, know that just as all mortal sins are very serious, so too a venial sin is made mortal if a human being delights in it with the intention of persevering.
Wherefore, know that two sins, which I now name to you, are being practiced and that they draw after them other sins that all seem as if venial.
But because the people delight in them with the intention of persevering, they are therefore made mortal. . .
The first of the two sins is that the faces of rational human creatures are being painted with the various colors with which insensible images and statues of idols are colored so that to others, these faces may seem more beautiful than I made them.
The second sin is that the bodies of men and women are being deformed from their natural state by the unseemly forms of clothing that the people are using.” Our Lord Jesus Christ, The Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden
A collection of modesty quotes and modesty sayings from the Scriptures.
“You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:27-28
“A woman shall not be clothed with man’s apparel, neither shall a man use woman’s apparel: for he that doth these things is abominable before God.” Deuteronomy 22:5
“I made a covenant with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a virgin.” Job 31:1
“A golden ring in a swine’s snout, a woman fair and foolish.”
“Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is nigh.” Philippians 4:5
“Whose adorning, let it not be the outward plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel: But the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptibility of a quiet and a meek spirit which is rich in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
“In like manner, women also in decent apparel: adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety, not with plaited hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly attire.” 1 Timothy 2:9
“I urge you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2
“And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? But he was silent. Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:11-14
Modesty is a virtue that has transcended time and remains relevant in our modern world. It’s a concept deeply rooted in various religious traditions, including Catholicism. In this article, we’ll explore the profound wisdom of modesty through a collection of quotes and sayings from Popes, Saints, and Devout Souls. These timeless words remind us of the importance of modesty, not just in our clothing but in our entire way of life.
Dressing to Please the Heart
Saint Clement of Alexandria once said, “Those who glory in their looks – not in their hearts – dress to please others.” This quote speaks volumes about the essence of modesty. It reminds us that true modesty goes beyond outward appearances; it resides in the depths of our hearts. When we dress solely to impress others, we risk losing sight of our inner values and virtues. It’s a gentle nudge to prioritize the content of our character over the allure of our attire.
The Silent Influence of Dressing
Saint John Chrysostom’s words highlight the subtle but significant impact of our clothing choices: “You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin… you murder not the body, but the soul.” Here, Saint John Chrysostom underscores the idea that our attire can be a silent invitation to sin. Our clothing can either be a net that traps others in temptation or a shield that protects their virtue. It serves as a reminder that modesty is not just about us but also about how we affect those around us.
Speaking Through Clothing
Saint Jerome brings a thought-provoking perspective: “Either we must speak as we dress, or dress as we speak. Why do we profess one thing and display another? The tongue talks of chastity, but the whole body reveals impurity.” These words highlight the inconsistency that arises when our actions do not align with our words. Modesty is not just about wearing the right clothes but also about living a life consistent with the values we profess. It reminds us that our actions should echo our words.
The Precious Jewel of Purity
Saint John Bosco emphasizes the value of purity with the analogy of a precious jewel: “Purity is a precious jewel, and the owner of a precious stone would never dream of making a display of his riches in the presence of thieves.” This quote reminds us that we should guard and protect our purity as we would a valuable possession. Just as one would not flaunt their riches in front of potential thieves, we should not expose our purity to the dangers of immodesty.
Clothing as a Reflection of Society
Pope Pius XII offers a broader perspective: “It might be said that society speaks through the clothing it wears. Through its clothing it reveals its secret aspirations and uses it, at least in part, to build or destroy its future.” This quote encourages us to view clothing as a reflection of society’s values and aspirations. Our choice of clothing is not merely a personal matter; it contributes to the cultural fabric of our society. Modesty, in this context, becomes a powerful statement about our collective values and the direction in which we wish to steer our culture.
Respecting the Gaze of Others
Saint Clement of Alexandria reminds us of the responsibility we hold towards one another: “But by no manner of means are women to be allotted to uncover and exhibit any part of their person, lest both fall… they by drawing on themselves the eyes of the men.” This quote underscores the idea that modesty is not just a personal choice but a way to respect the dignity and purity of others. It encourages us to be mindful of the impact our clothing may have on those around us.
The Dangers of Luxurious Clothing
Saint Clement of Alexandria further delves into the subject of clothing, stating, “Luxurious clothing that cannot conceal the shape of the body is no more a covering… Clinging to the body as though it were the flesh, it receives its shape and outlines the woman’s figure.” This quote draws attention to the fine line between clothing and immodesty. It reminds us that clothing should serve the purpose of modesty and not become a tool for flaunting one’s body.
Prioritizing Spiritual Well-being
Pope Pius XII provides a practical guideline: “The good of our soul is more important than that of our body; and we have to prefer the spiritual welfare of our neighbor to our bodily comforts… it is your duty to give it up.” This quote reminds us of our responsibility to prioritize the well-being of our souls over physical comfort and fashion trends. If a particular style of dress poses a grave occasion of sin, it is our duty to forsake it for the sake of our spiritual health and the well-being of others.
Modesty in Every Aspect of Life
Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori broadens the concept of modesty to encompass various aspects of life: “We must practice modesty, not only in our looks, but also in our whole deportment, and particularly in our dress, our walk, our conversation, and all similar actions.” This quote serves as a reminder that modesty is not limited to clothing choices alone; it extends to our behavior, speech, and actions. It’s a holistic approach to living a modest and virtuous life.
The Role of Modesty in Protecting the Sacred
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reinforces the importance of modesty, stating, “Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance… It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.” This quote highlights that modesty is not just about how we present ourselves but also about how we perceive and interact with others. It is a shield that protects the sacredness of human dignity and promotes respect and solidarity among individuals.
In conclusion, these quotes and insights from Popes, Saints, and Devout Souls remind us that modesty is a timeless virtue that goes beyond the choice of clothing. It encompasses our thoughts, actions, and how we influence those around us. Modesty is not a restrictive code but a liberating path that leads to a more virtuous and respectful way of living. It invites us to consider the impact of our choices on ourselves and others, emphasizing the importance of cherishing the inner beauty of the heart above all else. So, as we navigate our lives in this ever-changing world, let us heed the wisdom of these quotes and embrace the power of modesty in all its dimensions.