Introducing the Patriarchal Tiara (A Mitre with Three Crowns)

Photo: OC-Travel
I have always said one of the most fascinating theaters of liturgical arts surrounds the old patriarchal liturgies of patriarchal sees such as Lisbon, Venice, Jerusalem, the East Indies, etc.

For all those visiting Lisbon, I highly recommend you make time to visit this worthwhile little museum at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Mary Major.

For a nominal fee, you enter the museum.  Do not forget to make your way upstairs (through the church tower on the right of the entrance).  This leads you to the part of the museum that includes a section of the Patriarch's Palace.

Here, in the residence of the Cardinal Patriarch, you will see some very rare and totally unique items related to patriarchal liturgies of the Archdiocese of Lisbon.  Although most of these items have fallen into disuse, they were never forbidden by the Holy See.


One such item is the so-called "patriarchal tiara" (see above image).  This unique mitre is similar to the papal tiara.  It is a liturgical prerogative and exclusive right to the Archbishop of Lisbon.

Other privileges granted to the Patriarch of Lisbon include objects otherwise reserved for the pope.  They include the right to the sedia gestatoria with flabella, the fanon, falda, morse, subcinctorium, and more.  He also wears Ambrosian-style cuffs attached to the alb. 


The intricate and time-honored patriarchal liturgies of Lisbon were rich with symbolism and culture and tied it in a special way to the papal liturgies of the Roman Pontiff, the unifying Patriarch of the West.

Further, the Patriarch of Lisbon makes use of the papal tiara on his arms (without the crossed keys), which can be seen depicted on many of the liturgical items in Lisbon Cathedral.

Interestingly, the practice of receiving Holy Communion during Solemn Mass at the throne was never conceded to the Patriarch of Lisbon. 

The mitre in the photo dates from Italy, sometime in the eighteenth century, made of silk, golden metallic thread and precious stones.

In the following days I aim to post several more photos related to the patriarchal liturgies of Lisbon.

Finally, why are any of these traditions important and why should they be continued?  This is a contentious question.

All of these traditions that were built up over centuries in Catholic countries illustrate the spiritual vision of the greatest minds and the way in which the Catholic experience is best transmitted to the community by faith and tradition and education.

The liturgy teaches; it is a teacher.  Where unifying spiritual vision is lost - where it is no longer transmitted to the community as a whole - where these liturgical traditions have been left by the wayside and done away with in haste, all that can be seen is decay of Catholic life.

In every great civilization, the higher forms of culture (such as cathedral liturgies in the Christian world) have always orientated toward the ideal of spiritual knowledge with the true object of worship and education being the cultivation of man's spiritual faculties.  The recovery of these traditions will aid in the recovery of lost European spirituality.

The triumphant expansion of modern secular civilization has spelled self-destruction for Catholic liturgical life and piety, where traditions have been sacrificed in the name of modernity.  The last resort of every formerly Catholic country depends not upon its material resources or methods or measure of modernity, but on the spiritual vision it can return to.
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