Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback

Dear Catholic.com visitor: Summer is here, and you may be thinking about a well-deserved vacation, family get-togethers, BBQs with neighborhood friends. More than likely, making a donation to Catholic Answers is not on your radar right now. But this is exactly the time we most need your help. The “summer slowdown” in donations is upon us, but the work of spreading the gospel and explaining and defending the Faith never takes a break. Your gift today will change lives and save souls for Christ this summer! The reward is eternal. Thank you and God bless.

Dear Catholic.com visitor: Summer is here, and you may be thinking about a well-deserved vacation, family get-togethers, BBQs with neighborhood friends. More than likely, making a donation to Catholic Answers is not on your radar right now. But this is exactly the time we most need your help. The “summer slowdown” in donations is upon us, but the work of spreading the gospel and explaining and defending the Faith never takes a break. Your gift today will change lives and save souls for Christ this summer! The reward is eternal. Thank you and God bless.

Why are male saints often depicted with a shaved head?

Question:

Pictures of male saints often show them not just with halos, but with their heads shaved. What is the significance of the shaved head?

Answer:

It is called a tonsure and was used to mark a man in the clerical state–in other words a man who had taken religious vows.

This practice finds its origin in the Old Testament (Nm 6:18) and is very much alive in the New. Paul had his head shaved when he made a vow (Acts 18:18); others did likewise (Acts 21:23-24).

The practice continued throughout the early Church and became formalized as part of the externals marking a man as an ecclesiastic. The tonsure was generally part of the ceremony for admitting a novice or a seminarian. In 1972 the “minor orders” were combined with the order of deacon, and the tonsure was no longer required.

Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!Donatewww.catholic.com/support-us