The Mitra (Greek μίτρα " frontlet "; plural mitres ) is the traditional liturgical headdress of bishops of many Christian churches. Also other church dignitaries with its own jurisdiction area (eg certain abbots ) wear mitres. The miter is worn today only Pontifikalhandlungen in worship.

Appearance and shape

Since the 11th century, the miter, which belongs to the pontifical developed in the Church (except in the most Eastern Churches ) to the present form. The covering of the head is at the front and back of the two inverted shields ( cornua ). The inner lining of the miter is still a cap similar. Includes this is of firmer material which tapers front and rear pointed. To the rear hang two bands, the so-called Vittae, down to his shoulders. These two bands are symbolic of the Old and New Testament.

In this form, the miter is now worn mainly by old and Roman Catholic bishops and infulierten abbots and prelates, but also by Anglican and Eastern Churches by some bishops, as for example in the Armenian Orthodox, the Bishops of the Mar Thoma Church is common, but also by some bishops of the Eastern Churches united with Rome. The use of the miter is also common in a number of Lutheran churches, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia and in the Church of Sweden.

In the Catholic Church of the West, there was ( today only in the so-called extraordinary form of the Roman Rite ) three different classes of mitres:

  • Mitra pretiosa - the " precious miter " is usually richly decorated ( especially older mitres are sometimes equipped with jewels and semi-precious stones and embroidered with gold thread )
  • Mitra auriphrygiata - the " golden miter " is made ​​of a continuous gold-colored substance, either on or off white silk, in gold and silver threads are embroidered.
  • Mitra simplex - the "simple Mitra " is made of white silk damask, silk or linen. The Vittae end in red fringes.

During the Pontifikalfunktionen always two mitres were usually used, ie either miter pretiosa and Mitra auriphrygiata or auriphrygiata Mitra and Mitra simplex. Their use has been recently regulated in Caeremoniale episcoporum of 1886.

Mitra simplex, together with the Pileolus

Mitra auriphrygiata

Byzantine Orthodox Mitra

Since the liturgical reform of 2nd Vatican Council normally only the following two forms of Mitra are used:

  • Mitra simplex - the "simple Mitra " and
  • Mitra ornata - the " decorated Mitra ".

Your choice depends in each case on the occasion of the celebration, always only one miter is used without changing the models.

In the Orthodox Church the Mitra ( μίτρα ) is a high arched, crown-shaped cap ( Stephanos ( crown bishop ) ). Instead of the bands Mitra is enclosed rearwardly of a cloth.


The miter occurs under the sacred garments of Western bishops in the 11th century, when the Eastern Church Bishops much later. The exact origin is uncertain. Originally Mitra was only a kind of cap, isolated even a headband. Actually, a hallmark of Persian princes, it was taken over all sorts of detours from the bishops. Another opinion says that even a miter belonged to the regalia with dignitaries of the Roman Empire and was adopted by the Church that headgear.


The miter is in heraldry, a crest figure that is generally intended to refer to a bishop or other high saints (such as a local founder, local or patron ). The miter is represented mostly dangling in silver or gold with gold bands on either side. There are also coat of arms, in which the miter and crosier together yield a crest figure. The miter can also rest on the plate edge or in the upper coat of arms in general. Mitres were (and still are for part against the valid rule ) used in ecclesiastical heraldry to denote the rank of a coat of arms carrier ( Bishop, infulierter Abt), but in the Catholic Church, the coat of arms of bishops and cardinals usually not of a miter is, but surmounted by a Galero. To crowning the coat of arms with a miter is since 1969 for church dignitaries except the pope no longer allowed. The miter has since the seals of ecclesiastical institutions subject, such as a bishopric or an abbey. Pope Benedict XVI. replaced in his coat of arms above the usual in papal coat of arms Tiara by a miter.

  • Examples of coats of arms with Mitra

Coat of arms of the municipality Hawangen in the Lower Allgäu

Coat of Arms of the Abbey Speinshart

Coat of arms of the Bishopric of Chur

Coat of arms of the Diocese of Passau to Siebmachers armorial