Hat Lore

The Mitre

Bishop's mitre,
Loan courtesy of Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa

The origins of the Roman Catholic bishop's mitre go back to early Christian times, and perhaps to the pre-Christian era. Its shape has changed over the centuries. By the late twelfth century A.D., the mitre had acquired its characteristic double peaks, pointing heavenwards, like the Gothic cathedral architecture of the time. There are three types of mitre: the simple, the gold and the precious or jewelled, each corresponding to the degree of importance and solemnity of use. The mitre in this exhibit is a precious mitre.

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