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5. Insignia of the Bishop

Antiquities of the Christian Church
CHAPTER III. Of the Ministers of the Church

5. Insignia of the Bishop

No badge of office or clerical dress was worn by the clergy until the fourth century. The various insignia or emblems of office which have from time to time been appropriated to the bishop are as follows:

  1. A ring, emblematical of his espousals to the church in imitation of the ancient ceremony of presenting a ring on the espousal of the parties in marriage. It was called the ring of his espousals, annulus sponsalitius, annulus pronuhus, and sometimes, annulus palata.
  2. A shepherd's staff or crook*. Sometimes a straight staff was presented instead of the crook. That of the archbishop had usually a single, and that of the patriarch a double cross piece. According to Montfaucon the staff of the Greek archbishop had a head-piece resembling the letter T. According to Goari, it was curved upward, thus, Y, for which he offers the following whimsical reason: Ansas retortas habet baculus hamorum instai, ut efferatos fuget et perniciosos et ultimo Christi crucem manifestet. 
  3. A mitre or fillet. It is usually stated that only bishops and abbots of the Western church have worn the mitre since the tenth century. But the usage was not unknown in the Eastern church also. 
  4. A pair of gloves, chirothecae. These the bishop always wore when engaged in any religious offices. 
  5. Sandals. Without these, no priest was permitted to celebrate mass. They consisted of a sole so attached to the foot as to leave the upper part bare. They were called sandals from the vegetable color in which they were dyed. From the seventh and eighth centuries they are mentioned as one of the badges of the episcopal office, in distinction from that of the priests. 
  6. Caligae or boots. These, in ancient warfare, were a part of the military equipments of the soldier. To the bishop they were emblematical of that spiritual warfare upon which he entered.
  7. The robe* pallium superhumerale, pectorale; ephod. This badge was so essential, that writers often use the robe to denote both the person and the office of the bishop. It was at first worn by all bishops, but afterwards became the distinctive badge of archbishops, metropolitans, and patriarchs. Gregory Nazianzen affirms, that it was the insignia of the Roman emperor as pontifex maximus; and that Constantine the great, first granted it to the bishop of Jerusalem. But this is in direct opposition to tradition, which reports that Mark the Evangelist as bishop of Alexandria first assumed the robe, and left it for his followers.

    Nothing is known of the form and quality of the robe in the first centuries, save that it was a seamless garment, nullis acubus perforata, made of white linen, and hung loosely from the shoulders. It was afterwards made of woollen. In the twelfth century, it was made of white woollen, having a circular gathering on the shoulders, and two scarfs hanging over it behind and before. On the left side it was double, and single on the right. Previous to the eighth century, it had also four purple crosses upon it, – before and behind, one; and one on either side. It was fastened by three golden pins. The Greek bishops, according to the patriarch Germanus, assumed the purple crosses as early as the eighth century. The robe itself was styled*.

    The rationale*, of the robe has been the subject of dispute among the learned. It appears, however, to relate to the proper form of it when the bishops of Rome assumed it as they did the name of pontijices maximi, high priests, and all the prerogatives of the Jewish high priest.

  8. The cross. This was both worn on the neck or breast, and carried in public processions, and thus became a twofold badge of the bishop's office. He was accustomed to wear upon the neck or breast, a cross made of wood, or gold, or some sacred relic, which by the Greeks was called τό πεo̧ιαμμα, and was regarded as an amulet, or phylactery. It was also sometimes called *, from *, the bosom. The cross was used in like manner, in the Latin church. Binterim is of opinion that it was at first worn by Christians indiscriminately, and not as an official badge. 

    The cross which was carried before the bishops in processions and festive parades, was called crux gestatoria. For a long time the bishops of Rome claimed the right of carrying the cross as exclusively their own. In the twelfth century it was granted to metropolitans and patriarchs, and to archbishops in the time of Gregory IX. The patriarchs of the Greek church did not so frequently carry the cross, but in the place of it, they carried lamps and burning candles.

Diar. Ital. p. 46.

Goari. Encholog. p 98.

Binterim's Denkwürdigk. der Kathol. Kirche. I. b. 2. Th. S. 349 seq; Pellicia. lorn. i. p. 74, 75.

Honor. Augustodon. lib. i. c. 215; Durandi ration, div. offic. lib. iii. c. 12.

Binterim. I. 1, S, 359–61.

Isidor. Hispal. de offic. eccl. lib. i. c. 4.

Orat. 47; Theodoret. hist. eccl. lib. 2, c. 27.

Joan. Diacon. Vit. Gregor. M. lib. iv. c. 8.

Durandus ration, lib. 3. c. 17.

Anastasius. Biblioth. not. ad. Synod. Constantin. IV. Sess. 6.

I. B. I. Th. S. 361–63.

(* denotes Greek text in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)


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