Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Papal Mitres: part 1

Amongst the many remarkable features of Benedict XVI's Pontificate is the rather singular distinction of having used more mitres as Pope as (probably) all of his predecessors put together over the last 200 hundred years!  Most of his predecessors used two or three precious mitres at most (in addition to the cloth gold and simplex mitres). There are a number of websites which have a tally of the mitres used by Pope Benedict, so I won't be contributing to the statistics.

Instead, this is the first in a series of posts about the Papal mitres which I find pleasing, together with a description of them.

The first in the series, shewn adjacent, was presented to Pope Benedict on the occasion of his visit to the Abbey Monte Cassino a couple of years ago.  In addition, a matching cope and chasuble were presented.  These vestments and mitre are very much in the character of the style of vestments used in Italy in the 13th century. 

Confining ourselves to the mitre, it is made from a white silk damask and its orphrey (properly called the circulus and titulus) is also formed from hand-embroidered gold silk.  Quite unlike the baroque mitres, the ornament of such mitres is confined to orphrey.  Here we find, in geometrical patterns, precious stones of differing sizes and colours, arranged in a restrained and tasteful manner.  The shape and height of the mitre are very well proportioned, according to the manner of the early mediaeval period and well-suited to the stature of its wearer.


Click on the images for an enlarged view.