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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:
The Works of Sulpitius Severus.: Chapter XIII.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XIII.

But perhaps you say, “Why did not the Apostles enjoin these things on virgins?” Because they did not think that necessary, lest such an exhortation, if given to them, might rather seem an insult than a means of edification. Nor, in fact, would they have believed that virgins could ever proceed to such an extreme of hardihood, as to claim for themselves carnal and worldly ornaments, not permitted even to married women. Undoubtedly, the virgin ought to adorn and array herself; for how can she be able to please her betrothed, if she does not come forth in a neat and ornamental form? Let her be adorned by all means, but let her ornaments be of an internal and spiritual kind, and not of a carnal nature; for God desires in her a beauty not of the body, but of the soul. Do thou, therefore, who desirest that thy soul p. 65 should be loved and dwelt in by God, array it with all diligence, and adorn it with spiritual garments. Let nothing unbecoming, nothing repulsive, be seen in it. Let it shine with the gold of righteousness, and gleam with the gems of holiness, and glitter with the most precious pearl of purity; instead of fine linen and silk, let it be arrayed in the robe of mercifulness and piety, according to what is written, “Put ye 212 on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved bowels of mercy, kindness, humility,” and so forth. And let the virgin not ask for the beauty due to ceruse, 213 or any other pigment, but let her have the brightness of innocence and simplicity, the rosy hue of modesty, and the purple glow of honorable shamefacedness. Let her be washed with the nitre of heavenly doctrine, and purified by all spiritual lavements. 214 Let no stain of malice or sin be left in her. And lest, at any time, she should give forth the evil odor of sin, let her be imbued, through and through, with the most pleasant ointment of wisdom and knowledge.



Col. iii. 12.


“cerussæ”: white lead, used by women to whiten their skins.


“lomentis”: a mixture of bean-meal and rice, used as a lotion to preserve the smoothness of the skin.

Next: Chapter XIV.

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