In the Roman Catholic Church mitres are divided into three classes: (1) Mitra pretiosa, decorated with jewels, gold plates, &c.; (2) Mitra auriphrygiata, of white silk, sometimes embroidered with gold and silver thread or small pearls, or of cloth of gold plain; (3) Mitra simplex, of white silk damask, silk or linen, with the two falling bands behind terminating in red fringes.
Mitres are the distinctive headdress of bishops; but the right to wear them, as in the case of the other episcopal insignia, is granted by the popes to other dignitaries - such as abbots or the heads and sometimes all the members of the chapters of cathedral or collegiate churches.
At general councils bishops wear white linen mitres, cardinals mitres of white silk damask; this is also the case when bishops and cardinals in pontificalibus assist at a solemn pontifical function presided over by the pope.
The papal bulls granting the use of mitres before the nth century are all forgeries (Liturgische Gewandung, 431-448).
From this time onward papal bulls bestowing mitres, together with other episcopal insignia, on abbots become increasingly frequent.