27 November 2018

Word of the Day: Mitre

MITER. Liturgical headdress worn by popes, cardinals, abbots, and bishops of the Latin Rite. It is a folding two-pieced stiffened cap of silk or linen, often richly ornamented with gold embroidery, united with a piece of soft material allowing the two stiffened pieces to be folded together. It usually has two fringed lappets that hang down the back. It is always removed when the celebrant prays. There are three kinds of miters to be interchanged according to the solemnity of the occasion and the liturgical season: the golden, the precious, and the simple. The last is always of white and worn on Good Friday and at funerals. Usually inferior prelates are restricted to the white miter only. (Etym. Greek mitrā, girdle, belt, headband, turban.)
Of course, it's properly spelt 'mitre'!

In the East it's also called a mitre but it differs in design. The present day Eastern miter is made in the shape of a bulbous crown and may be constructed of number of materials such as brocade, damask, or cloth of gold. Embroidery may be used in its construction as well as use of jewels for decoration. The miters, while often of gold, may use other liturgical colors. Normally, there are four icons attached to the miter. These usually are icons of Jesus Christ, the Theotokos, John the Baptist, and the Cross. A cross surmounts the miter, either upright for bishop’s miters or laying flat on miters awarded to priests.
The wearing of the miter is a prerogative of bishops, but it may be awarded to archpriests, protopresbyters, and archimandrites. For example, Fr Robert Taft, SJ (R+I+P), who died recently was a mitred archimandrite.

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