Prayer Cap and Caped Dress: A Capsule


Marian_middleschoolMiddle Schooler: Veiled and Caped

Good Mennonite girls of the 1950s and 60s like me wore a prayer cap and a dress with a cape. Yes, no fancy fad in the frock I’m wearing in the photo. As best I can tell, the belted cape was worn to add an extra layer of padding to de-emphasize female curves. The object was modesty and humility at all costs. Underneath my cap, also called covering or veiling, I planted a  circlet of braids attached with hairpins. Why is it worn? “According to I Corinthians 11:1-16, . . . the long hair and veiled head gives evidence of the woman’s “unceasing prayer and constant witness,” accepting “submission designated by God.” *

Christian Doctrine_cover_150_med   Christian Doctrine_p21 close up_150_med

* Statement of Christian Doctrine and Rules and Discipline of the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church, Article II—Ordinances, Section 5, July 17, 1968.

More on the Prayer Cap:

The Prayer Veil_cover_150_med

Wenger, J. C., The Prayer Veil in Scripture and History, Herald Press, Scottdale, PA, 1964.


Three Common Misconceptions about Amish and Mennonites:

1. Amish came first.  No, Menno Simons, a former Swiss priest, broke off from the Catholic Church during the Reformation in 1536, originating the Mennonite Church. Later in 1693, Jacob Ammon formed the Amish, who have worn even more conservative dress.

2. Most Mennonites are farmers; their children go to one-room schoolhouses.  No, from the mid-1950s and earlier Mennonites have embraced the professions: many are doctors, lawyers, educators. Higher education is the norm for many.

3. Plain looks equate to lack of emotional expression.  Just ask my husband!

1. What misconceptions can you add?

2. Any similar experiences? Tell your anecdote.

3. Questions?

Harvey Yoder, Mennonite pastor and counselor, has compiled a more complete list of 10 myths about Mennonites and Amish on his own website. I invite you to check out this link:

Coming soon!  Grandma’s Kitchen: Recipes and More


15 thoughts on “Prayer Cap and Caped Dress: A Capsule

  1. Reading about the cape and the cap somehow reminds me of the the book by Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil, “plainandfancygirl.” You are my favorite BLOGGER!


  2. BRAVO! To my former Eastern Mennonite College housemate, colleague at LMH and now “co-conspirator” in planning our 50 year reunion at EMU, I applaud your blog. While I use the computer almost every day, I am not a social media person. I feel like a fledgling on the edge of the nest as I try to learn the intricaties of the new iphone my husband gave me for Christmas. Just maybe I will flirt with facebook one of these days!


    1. Thank you for the kind comment, Verna. Actually, I don’t consider myself a social media person either, but the possibilities of blogging intrigued me as I explored other stories mentioned in the “Mennonite Memoir” section of my blog. My hope is that my vignettes will elicit stories from others that would parallel or even contrast with my own.

      Yes, aspects of the iPhone still are puzzling to me, but I have taken so many photos with it I hardly use my camera anymore. And, yes, go ahead and flirt with Facebook–ha! You can limit your “exposure” by using the privacy settings in your profile. I guess that is the big fear we have as digital immigrants–compromising our privacy too much. Anyway, good to hear from you. Add your comments anytime; they are much appreciated.


  3. As another former colleague (FSCJ), I applaud you for creating this blog. While I may be fairly computer literate, this is my first exposure as well. I have to say I am enjoying it…
    My life ‘back then’ was not nearly as interesting as yours! Gence


    1. I know you have always loved the simple life, including my Mennonite heritage, which isn’t so simple now considering my family’s current problems. We’ll have to get together soon and catch up. Our chat will be entitled, “Interesting lives, yours and mine” — ha!


      1. Sounds good… That has been very complicated recently as well. Keep my sister Lorna in your prayers. Two days ago, She just underwent spinal surgery on her neck!!!


  4. It sounds like my brother Mark, who January a year ago had surgery for spinal stenosis in the neck area. He has had great relief from pain–thank God! Will remember Lorna too.


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