I'm new to the list, but I'm a pope freak. I'll quote from my book "The
Church Visable" by James-Charles Noonan, Jr. c. 1996. It's a GREAT book for
info on all kinds of church vestments, policies, etc.
The mitre is an early tenth-centruy addition to the Roman Catholic
church..Its origins are much more ancient...now fairly certain that the
mitre's origins can be traced to ancient Greece of the pre-Christian era.
The mitre is most likely derived from the cap worn by athelets of ancient
Greece, as church historians now hypothesize. Its Infulae, or ribbons of the
mitre, actually predated the cap itself. These ribbons were worn around the
foreheard, tied in the rear by a know, and left to dangle down the back,
and, in the heat of summer, a soft cloth cap was placed under the bands to
protect the competitors from the outdoor heat. The winners of the athletic
compettions were presented a laurel wreath, which encircled the head. This
wreath formed the earliest ornamentation of the mitre. This headgear quickly
became identified as beign that of a champion. During the earliest
centuries of the Christian era, no mentin is made of anything that resembles
the present mitre. By the tenth century, the Bishop of Rome Pope Leao VIII
is mentioned as making use of a mitros for occasional nonliturgical events.
Soon after, it became part of the regalia of the papacy, the predecessor of
the triregno (soon to develop) and the senior emblem of papal authority.
By the middle of the eleventh centruy, the mitre became a gift for bishops
of special distinction...
There is more informaion on design and style, and a little more history.
Actually, as I look through the book, there is QUITE a lot of information on
mitres re: colors, modern practice, etc.
Let me know, if you'd like I can scan in the whole 8 pages or so and send
them to you.
----- Original Message -----
From: kwildgen <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2000 10:46 PM
> (Please, Oriens, no more references to Serapion's moderately sized
> I've had various responses to a question regarding the origins of the
> shape and meaning of the mitre. To date I've heard/read:
> the phrygium (isn't that the insignium of a freed slave adopted by the
> Jacobins? the insignium, that is);
> a cap with flaps in the back given to Greek athletes as a prize.
> Any suggestions other than these two would be appreciated. Also any
> hints as to why these two (or perhps they're the same thing) objects
> would be particularly suited to liturgical use would be helpful.
> Many thanks in advance,
> Kathryn Wildgen