What the Bible Says About Mitres: Uncovering Their Symbolic Meaning
Throughout history, mitres have been worn by religious leaders, particularly in the Catholic Church. But what is a mitre in the Bible? Let's take a closer look at the symbolic meaning of this headwear.
What is a Mitre?
A mitre is a type of headwear worn by bishops and other religious leaders. It is typically tall and pointed, with two flaps or "wings" that hang down the back. The mitre is often adorned with embroidery or other decorative elements, such as precious stones or gold thread.
In the Bible, the word "mitre" appears only once, in Exodus 28:4:
"And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office."
This verse describes the garments that were to be made for Aaron, the high priest of Israel. The mitre was one of several items of clothing that were to be worn during his ministry.
The Symbolic Meaning of the Mitre
While the mitre is not mentioned frequently in the Bible, it has come to be associated with certain symbolic meanings. Here are a few interpretations:
One interpretation of the mitre is that it represents the authority of religious leaders. The tall, pointed shape of the mitre is meant to elevate the bishop above the rest of the congregation and indicate his position of leadership.
Supporters of this interpretation often point to verses like 1 Peter 5:2-4:
"Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away."
These verses describe the role of a shepherd, who watches over and cares for his flock. The bishop, in this interpretation, is seen as a shepherd who guides and leads his congregation.
Another interpretation of the mitre is that it represents humility. While the mitre is a symbol of authority, it is also a reminder that the bishop is a servant of God and his congregation.
Supporters of this interpretation often point to verses like Matthew 20:25-28:
"Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'"
These verses describe Jesus' teaching that those who want to be great must serve others. The bishop, in this interpretation, is seen as a servant who humbly serves his congregation.
The mitre is a symbol of authority and humility in the Catholic Church and other religious traditions. While the word "mitre" appears only once in the Bible, it has come to be associated with certain symbolic meanings. Whether viewed as a symbol of leadership or servanthood, the mitre remains an important part of religious attire.