The Cilice

The Cil was a garment woven from rough goat hair, which was used by soldiers in the Roman army. The term comes from the Greek κιλίκιον, or the region of Cilicia, today southern Turkey. From the Roman soldiers the bullet went to the Christian anacoretes, who wore it on bare skin to do penance and mortify the flesh. It remained used for penitents, certain pilgrims, and as a tool of sanctification and purification in certain religious ordinances or brotherhoods. Indicates, by extension, a hooked belt or black, knotty rope, which narrows around the waist or thigh to cause extreme but constant pain.



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The cilice is a belt or undergarment of rough fabric, originally made from the wool of Cilician goats. The cilice therefore designates an object made of textile fibres.

Cilices were originally made from coarse animal hair, as an imitation of the garment worn by John the Baptist which was made of camel hair, or sackcloth, which throughout the Bible, was worn by people who repented. Cilices were designed to irritate the skin; other features were added to make the hair shirts more uncomfortable, such as fine threads or twigs. In modern Christian religious circles, cilices are simply any device worn for the same purpose.

There is evidence, based on analyzes of both clothing depicted in art and skin-print patterns, that the use of the cilice predates written history. This finding was reflected in Göbekli Tepe, an Anatolian site, indicating the widespread manufacture of hair shirts. Ian Hodder has argued that self-harm clothing was an essential component of Catalhöyük's cultural-ritual entanglement..

When the cilice has the shape of a small shirt, it is also called a hair.

 The cilice (instrument of rough fabric) is worn around the waist, or wrapped around the bust. The chains can be used as a belt, a bracelet or to be fixed on the thigh, etc. With the same technique, some industries of conservative nuns make other instruments of penance. For example, the wire links no longer form a chain but a small cross that the followers of bodily mortification wear on the shoulder.

The chain is simply a strip, more or less wide, prickly, not in fabric, but in metal. It is made of small wire links whose ends are cleverly curved to form spikes. It is not a modern form of the cilice as I could read it on a poorly informed online encyclopedia. Chains and hair ties have coexisted for centuries .  These are two kinds ofobjects of penance distinct.

It was in common use in monasteries and convents throughout history until the 1960s, and was endorsed by popes as a means of following the dead Christ in a bloody crucifixion and who gave this advice: Qu 'he denies himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.' Supporters say opposition to mortification is rooted in having lost a 'sense of the enormity of the sin" or offense against God, and consequent penance, both inward and outward, the notions of "wounded human nature" and concupiscence or inclination to sin, and hence the need for a "spiritual warfare", a spirit of sacrifice for love and "supernatural ends", and not just for physical betterment..

Some religious orders within the Roman Catholic Church use the cilice as a form of bodily mortification, as well as some lay people, notably some worshipers of the Prelature of Opus Dei. According to John Allen, an American Catholic writer, its practice in the Catholic Church is "more widespread than many observers imagine". Thomas Becket wore a hair shirt when he was assassinated, Saint Patrick wore a hair shirt, Charlemagne was buried in a hair shirt, and Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Germany, wore one during the March to Canoss then of the investiture controversy. Prince Henry the Navigator wore a cilice at the time of his death in 1460. In modern times it has been used by Mother Teresa, Saint Padre Pio, and the murdered Archbishop Óscar Romero. Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was also known to wear a hair shirt.e.

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