Friday, September 7, 2007

The Mitre and the Crosier

In response to this.

The Mitre. This is the distinguishing mark of the episcopal office -- a tall double-pointed cap, probably of Oriental origin, which can be traced back to pagan times; at least, something very similar was worn by kings in Persia and Assyria long before the Christian era. As an ecclesiastical vestment it came into general use about the year 1100, although some form of tall and dignified headdress was worn considerably earlier. The present double or cleft form was evolved gradually; it was at first low and concave, and was subsequently increased in height and more richly ornamented. Its two points or horns symbolize the Old and New Testaments, which the bishop is supposed to explain to his people.

The Crosier. This, the bishop's pastoral staff, is, of course, not a vestment, but may be mentioned here. It typifies his duties as shepherd of the flock. It is a copy of the shepherd's crook, used for the guidance and restraining of the sheep, and has been looked upon as the special badge of the episcopal office since the fifth century at least, and is so mentioned in the ritual of a bishop's consecration. It signifies his power to sustain the weak, to confirm the wavering, and to lead back the erring. The upper part is often very beautifully molded and enriched with images and symbolic ornaments. [The opening image of St. Peter above shows him with a Crosier as well as a Mitre and chasuble.]

See here

Explanation of the vestments and their meanings.

Development of the Mitre

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