Pontifex Maximus. Roman high priest of antiquity. Collegium Pontificum.

Pontifex Maximus, ancient Rome, principal priest, costume
Pontifex Maximus

Pontifex Maximus

In ancient Rome, Pontifex Maximus (Great Pontifex, Latin “greatest priest”) was the title given to the high priest or principal priest at the head of the College of Pontifices (Collegium Pontificum). It was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, which was accessible only to patricians and represented the highest office of prestige and duties within the Roman public religion. Its seat was the Regia, the palace of the former kings of Rome at the Forum Romanum. In 254 B.C., the plebeian Tiberius Coruncanio took this position for the first time.

This pontificate, although more representative in character, was the highest religious level a Roman could aspire to according to the tradition established by Numa Pompilius.

The origins of this priestly office date back to the earliest times of Rome and were connected with the construction of the Sublicio Bridge, Rome’s oldest bridge over the Tiber (also a deity), downstream of the Tiber Island. For the archaic Romans this bridge and its preservation was so important that the oldest and most powerful Roman priesthood was born: the Pontifex “bridge builder between gods and men” (only the greatest authorities with holy functions were allowed to “disturb” the river Tiber by mechanical additions.).

Although it was the most powerful office of the Roman priesthood, the Pontifex maximus was officially placed fifth in the ranking of the highest Roman priests (ordo sacerdotum), behind the Rex sacrorum and the Flamine-Maiores.

The word “Pontifex” and its derivative “Pontiff” later became terms for Catholic bishops, including the Bishop of Rome. The term Pontifex literally means “bridge builder” (Pons + Facere), Maximus literally means “the maximum”. The title “Pontifex Maximus” was applied within the Catholic Church to the Pope as his main bishop and appears on buildings, monuments and coins of Popes of the Renaissance and modern times.

Note:  Roman Nobility Women and Female Slave.


Leave a Reply

Auguste Racinet. The Costume History by Françoise Tétart-Vittu.

Racinet's Costume History is an invaluable reference for students, designers, artists, illustrators, and historians; and a rich source of inspiration for anyone with an interest in clothing and style. Originally published in France between 1876 and 1888, Auguste Racinet’s Le Costume historique was in its day the most wide-ranging and incisive study of clothing ever attempted.

Covering the world history of costume, dress, and style from antiquity through to the end of the 19th century, the six volume work remains completely unique in its scope and detail. “Some books just scream out to be bought; this is one of them.” ― Vogue.com

The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World Paperback – December 7, 2021
by Virginia Postrel (Author)

From Neanderthal string to 3D knitting, an “expansive” global history that highlights “how textiles truly changed the world” (Wall Street Journal)

Fashionpedia - The Visual Dictionary Of Fashion Design

Fashionpedia - The Visual Dictionary Of Fashion Design

FASHIONPEDIA is a visual fashion dictionary covering all the technical terms from style to material to production with illustrations and infographics. It encompasses rich, extensive information and yet is easy to read. Whether you are an industry insider or a fashion connoisseur, FASHIONPEDIA is all you will ever need to navigate the fashion scene.

Textilepedia. The Complete Fabric Guide.

The Textile Manual is an encyclopaedia of textile information, from material to yarn, from fabric structure to the finishing process. Encompassing practical tips for a range of textiles and detailed visuals, this ultra-accessible manual is the perfect companion for fashion aficionados and aspiring fashion designers.

Church Vestments and Textiles by Margery Roberts

Sewing Church Linens by Elizabeth Morgan.

Vestments for All Seasons by Barbara Dee Baumgarten.