Nuns preserve art of making bishop mitres in North Macedonia

Debar, North Macedonia, Jun 22 (EFE).- Just over two hours away from Skopje, the Rajcica Monastery emerges as one of the rustic treasures of North Macedonia. Not only is this place of worship devoted to prayer but also famous for its traditional crafting of mitres.

“Our crowns,” says sister Efimija, one of the monastery’s nuns, referring to mitres, one of the most significant symbols of the Orthodox Christian faith.

This ceremonial headdress is worn by bishops and patriarchs at Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and some Lutheran churches, as well as the Eastern Catholic and Oriental Orthodox churches.

The classic mitre in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches takes the shape of the closed Imperial crown of the late Byzantine Empire. The crown form, however, was not used by bishops until after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

The oriental headgear features a completely closed bulbous crown, typically made of gold and damask fabric.

The mitre usually has four icons attached to it; Christ, the Theotokos, John the Baptist and the Cross.

“Our mitres are worn by archbishops in the United States, Russia, Africa, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Serbia and most often at the Greek Orthodox Church due to the way our mitres are made, with the lavish Byzantine style, which is cherished in the Greek Orthodox Church,” explains Efimija.

She underlines the entire sisterhood is involved at the time of preparation, designing, embroidery on a special machine and insertion of precious stones into the bishop mitres.

“That is our main vow and our greatest existence here in the monastery. We have created more than 1,600 mitres, each of them is unique because every bishop has his own style, his own requests and we try to meet their demands,” she concludes.EFE


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