Why Does the Bishop Wear That Hat?

Why does the Bishop wear that hat?


Called a mitre, the Bishop's hat is in a triangular form pointing upward with two fans (two strips of cloth hanging from behind). As with all symbols, there are a variety of meanings.

The mitre represents the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, at the birth of the church. Others suggest that the fans originated from the sweatband that Greek athletes wore, which was wrapped around the forehead, tied behind the head in a knot with the two ends hanging down the back; since the victorious athlete was crowned with a laurel wreath, the whole headdress soon was seen as a sign of victory.

The mitre  took on a similar symbolic meaning. Such symbolism arises from St. Paul's analogy: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on a merited crown awaits me..." (2 Tm 4:7-8). Surely, the bishop is leading his or her flock in the race to salvation to final victory in Heaven.

Tralee Johnson