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Diocese of Rockville Centre

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Symbols of the Episcopal Office Print E-mail

 

Miter
The headdress worn in liturgical functions by bishops as a symbol of their special dignity. It is constructed of two stiffened triangular pieces representing the old and new testaments, and is rounded at the sides and reaching to a point sewn together laterally and united above by a fold of cloth. Two infulae (or “fanons ”) trimmed at the ends with fringe hang down from the back. Worn for various liturgical functions, the miter is always put aside when the bishop prays.

 

Pectoral Cross
A cross worn over the breast by popes, bishops and certain other prelates. In the West it was adopted by the pope in the 14th century. It came into general use in the 16th century. In the East it is sometimes worn by bishops although in various Eastern Churches it is either replaced by the medallion called the encolpion, or worn together with the encolpion.

 

Crosier (Pastoral Staff)
A staff conferred on bishops at their consecration and upon abbots at their investiture, and also used by certain prelates not of Episcopal rank when performing pontifical functions. In the Western Church the crosier is curved on top, and this emphasizes the symbolism which sees this staff as the shepherd’s crook and hence a mark of the pastoral authority with which the bishop leads his flock. The actual origin of the staff is not known; it may have been originally an ordinary walking stick. The earliest known reference to its liturgical use dated from the 7th century. In time crosiers became very ornate, especially around the curved section. With the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council the tendency is toward a simpler style.

 

Ring
St. Augustine speaks of the bishop’s ring as a seal and it is probably from this practical usage that rings became a sign of the episcopal office. Rings eventually became a sign of the bishop’s marriage to his see and in the 10th century the wearing of rings by bishops became an accepted custom. The ring is worn on the fourth finger of the right hand.

 

 

Bishop-Elect Nelson J. Perez

Bishop-elect Robert J. Brennan

Bishop-elect Andrzej Zglejszewski