Bishop » Symbols of the Bishop
Symbols of the Bishop
The word ”cathedral” is derived from the Latin word cathedra, meaning chair. Since ancient times, a throne or chair has symbolized authority. In the Catholic Church, the bishop’s cathedra represents his governing, sanctifying and teaching authority.
The Bishop’s Chair
In a cathedral, the cathedra, or bishop’s chair, is the chair from which the bishop leads prayers when he is the celebrant of a Mass. There is a separate chair, usually near the cathedra, for use by the rector of the cathedral or other priests of the cathedral parish when they celebrate Mass there.
Coat of Arms
A bishop's coat of arms is distinguished by a sign of his rank. That sign, placed over the shield, is a particular version of an ecclesiastical hat that was worn in processions, as late as 1870. The hat is low-crowned, flat, and widebrimmed. On a bishop's coat of arms, the hat is green and hanging from it are 12 green tassels, six on each side. There's also a processional cross above the shield. The cross on a bishop's coat of arms has one bar; an archbishop's cross has two. The design of the shield itself differs from bishop to bishop.
A folding, pointed hat with two ribbon-like tails that is worn by a bishop at certain times during the Mass, most notably in the opening and closing processions.
The pectoral cross gets its name because it is worn over the breast, or pectus, hanging from a green cord intertwined with gold threads. There are rules determining whether it is worn over or under whatever the bishop is wearing. If he's in a suit and collar, the pectoral cross is usually placed in the vest pocket with the chain showing.
In the opening procession and at other times in the liturgy the bishop carries with him his crozier or crosier—not a vestment, but a pastoral staff about five to six feet in length signifying his office as bishop and chief shepherd of his people.
The bishop's ring is a symbol of the bishop's fidelity to and nuptial bond with the church, his spouse. It signifies the bishop's symbolic marriage to the church or Christ. The bishop's ring is usually made of gold with an amethyst. The bishop's ring was first mentioned as an official part of the bishop's insignia in the early seventh century.
The bishop wears a purple zucchetto, a small skull cap like the yarmulke. If the bishop is a cardinal, his zucchetto is red. If he is the pope, it is white.