Bishop Ramon Bejarano

On July 14, the feast of St. Katherine Tekakwitha, the Most Rev. Ramon Bejarano (50), a priest of the Diocese of Stockton, California will be ordained the Titular Bishop of Carpi and the Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego, California.

The coat of arms he is assuming is the following:

The personal coat of arms combines symbols that are meaningful to him reflecting his spiritual life and priestly ministry. The main part of the shield shows a gold background on which are four wavy vertical lines. These represent flowing waters. This alludes to his chosen motto and also symbolizes the graces that come from the Divine life to quench our thirst for God.

The upper third of the shield, called a “chief” is red because it is borrowed for the coat of arms of the Order of Mercy, the Mercedarians, of which the bishop’s patron saint, Raymond Nonnatus, was a member. The central symbol resembles a monstrance because St. Raymond is often depicted artistically holding a monstrance. Furthermore, the Eucharist is, for Bishop Bejarano, the inspiration for his priestly vocation. It was through the Eucharist that he received his call to the priesthood at age seven and which keeps his faith and his ministry going. It represents the call to offer oneself as a living sacrifice.

The monstrance is flanked on either side by an image of the Sacred Heart alluding to the mercy of God and echoing the idea of a sacrificial offering of oneself united to the sacrifice of Christ and of a rose for Our Lady. In particular, it is an allusion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. This is for the bishop’s Hispanic heritage.In connection with the appearance of Our Lady to Juan Diego the miraculous blooming of roses in December occurred.

The motto below the shield is, “My Soul Is Thirsting For You” from Psalm 63. He chose this because he sees it as also connected with St. Augustine’s phrase about our restless heart. (“Our hearts are restless, O God, until they rest in Thee”) The human heart seeks God, and Bishop Bejarano sees the need for evangelization for so many thirsting souls.

The shield is also ensigned with those external ornaments that indicate the bearer is a bishop. The gold (yellow) cross is placed vertically behind and extending above and below the shield. This is often mistakenly thought to be a processional cross like those used in liturgical processions. In former times archbishops, and later all bishops, had a cross mounted on a staff carried immediately in front of them while in procession or on solemn occasions. This cross was a symbol of their rank as bishop. While such an episcopal cross is no longer used practically it has been retained heraldically. In fact, there are other clerics who make use of the ecclesiastical hat with its many tassels but the one true heraldic emblem of a bishop, and the only essential one, is the episcopal cross placed behind the shield.

Above the shield is the ecclesiastical hat, called a galero which, in heraldry, replaces the martial helmet, mantling and crest. At one time in history bishops and archbishops wore green before adopting the more Roman purple we see today. In heraldry the green hat and tassels was retained for prelates with the rank of bishop according to the Instruction of the Secretariat of State, “Ut Sive” of March, 1969.

It was my privilege and pleasure to design and execute Bishop Bejarano’s coat of arms.

Bishop Kevin Sweeney of Paterson, NJ

On July 1, 2020 the Most Rev. Kevin Sweeney (50) a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn since 1997 will be ordained a bishop and installed as the 8th Bishop of Paterson, New Jersey. The coat of arms he is assuming is the following:

On the left from the viewer’s perspective, is the coat of arms of the Diocese of Paterson. The main charge, the Paschal Lamb holding the banner of victory, is the symbol for St. John the Baptist, the titular of the Cathedral. It was John who said: “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:12).

The trefoil, more commonly called a shamrock is a symbol of St. Patrick. The silver (white) division line with a crenelated upper edge represents the Lord’s protection of the city (and diocese).

On the right from the viewer’s perspective is the coat of arms assumed by Bishop Sweeney upon being named a bishop. It is joined (impaled) on the same shield with those of the diocese to indicate that Bishop Sweeney possesses jurisdiction over the diocese and that he is symbolically “married” to it. This manner of combining two coats of arms on the same shield is the method of marshaling that has been used for centuries by two armigerous people who get married.

The two main colors of the coat of arms are blue and gold (yellow) borrowing from the coat of arms of St. John Paul II whose life and pontificate greatly influenced the vocation and ministry of Bishop Sweeney. The main charge on the lower gold (yellow) field is a red escallop shell. This is a symbol of St. James, the titular of the Cathedral-Basilica in Brooklyn, and is borrowed from the coat of arms of the Diocese of Brooklyn where Bishop Sweeney was born and raised, educated and ordained a priest prior to becoming a bishop. There are three blue drops of water falling below the shell which make the shell also a symbol of St. John the Baptist, the titular of the cathedral in Paterson. In addition, this charge emphasizes the importance of Baptism as our incorporation into the Body of Christ and the call to holiness that is received by all followers of Jesus.

The upper part of the shield, is colored blue and contains two silver (white) horizontal lines as well as a golden rose. The white lines against the blue background allude to the distinctive blue and white habit worn by St. Teresa of Calcutta, the foundress of the Missionaries of Charity. This saintly woman also had a profound influence on Bishop Sweeney and he wished to commemorate her as a saint to whom he looks for inspiration in his priestly, and episcopal ministry. The golden rose is a symbol of Our Lady. The gold (yellow) rose alludes to Our Lady of Knock in particular and by this the bishop honors his Irish heritage. However, the rose also has a double symbolism in that it is an allusion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. In connection with the appearance of Our Lady to Juan Diego a miraculous blooming of roses in December occurred so this flower, regardless of its color, is associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The motto below the shield, in English and in Spanish, is, “God Is Love – Dios Es Amor”. 

The shield is also ensigned with the gold (yellow) cross placed vertically behind and extending above and below the shield. This is often mistakenly thought to be a processional cross like those used in liturgical processions. In former times archbishops, and later all bishops, had a cross mounted on a staff carried immediately in front of them on all solemn occasions. This cross was a symbol of their rank as bishop. While such an episcopal cross is no longer used practically it has been retained heraldically. In fact, there are other clerics who make use of the ecclesiastical hat with its many tassels but the one true heraldic emblem of a bishop, and the only essential one, is the episcopal cross placed behind the shield.

Above the shield is the ecclesiastical hat, called a galero which, in heraldry, replaces the martial helmet, mantling and crest. The galero is green with green cords pendant from it and twelve green tassels arranged in a pyramid shape on either side of the shield. At one time in history bishops and archbishops wore green before adopting the more Roman purple we see today. In heraldry the green hat and tassels was retained for prelates with the rank of bishop according to the Instruction of the Secretariat of State, “Ut Sive” of March, 1969.

I was pleased and privileged to design the bishop’s personal coat of arms and to marshal them to the arms of his diocese and execute the artwork. Bishop Sweeney and I first became acquainted 28 years ago when we were in the seminary. Ad Multos Annos!

Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, OSB

The Rt. Rev. Douglas R. Nowicki, OSB who served as Archabbot of St. Vincent Archabbey from January 8, 1991 until May 11, 2020. His successor will be elected June 22. During his tenure as Archabbot of the Archabbey he bore his personal arms impaled with those of the Archabbey itself. This form of marshaling two different coats of arms together, called “impaling” is rather the same as combining the two separate coats of arms of two armigerous people who are married to each other. Because the Archabbot has jurisdiction over the monastery his arms (in the position of the “groom”) are displayed together with the arms of his jurisdiction (in the position of the “bride”) on the same shield. When the tenure giving him such jurisdiction comes to an end the privilege of impaling his arms also comes to an end and he bears his personal arms alone. Accordingly, as of May 11, 2020 Archabbot Douglas’ coat of arms now appears as illustrated.

I designed his personal coat of arms in 1991 and prepared the original artwork used at the time of his archabbatial blessing.

Rozanski to St. Louis

Today Pope Francis appointed the Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski (61), since 2014 the Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts, and prior to that a priest and Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore, Maryland, as the 11th Bishop and 10th Archbishop of St. Louis, Missori.

The coat of arms which he assumed on becoming a bishop in 2004 which reflect his Maryland roots will impale nicely with those of the venerable See of St. Louis.

Ad multos annos!

Bishop Romero, Auxiliary of Rockville Centre, NY

On June 29, the Solemnity of Ss. Peter & Paul, the Most Rev. Luis Miguel Romero Fernández, M.Id. (66) a native of Palencia, Spain and a member of the Idente Missionaries currently serving as a pastor in the Diocese of Rockville Centre which covers two thirds of New York’s Long Island, will be ordained the Titular Bishop of Egara and Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre. The coat of arms I assisted him in designing which he will assume as a bishop are as follows:

The coat of arms assumed by Bishop Romero reflects his Religious Community, the diocese in which he serves, his previous ministry and his heritage. The colors used in this coat of arms are primarily red, white and blue, the national colors of the United States because the bishop wishes to honor the country in which he now lives and serves as both a priest and bishop. The main charge, or feature, across the middle of the shield is a bar specifically shaped to suggest an open book with the blue lower portion representing the binding and spine of the book and the white upper portion suggesting the pages. This is used to symbolize the many years the bishop spent working in a university setting as a teacher and administrator.

The lower portion of the shield depicts three red roses on their green stems. This is an allusion to the miracle of the roses in December that accompanied the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego. As such they serve as a symbol of Our Lady, especially Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and a particular devotion to the Hispanic peoples. This is for all the many years the bishop has spent in priestly ministry outside his native Spain serving Spanish-speaking people in other countries, especially in the Americas.

The upper part of the shield contains the symbol of the Community to which the bishop belongs, the Idente Missionaries. He is the first member of this community to be appointed a bishop so it was of great importance for him to include the community emblem in his own coat of arms. This is flanked by two escallop shells taken from the coat of arms of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in which he has served as a priest and pastor and which he is now called to serve in a greater capacity as a bishop.

The motto below the shield is, “Meek And Humble Of Heart” (Matthew 11:29)

The bishop specifically asked that the episcopal cross behind the shield and the galero be depicted in as simple a style as possible so they are depicted without any ornamentation. This, of course, is not reflected in the blazon because the blazon does not specify the manner of the depiction of the external ornaments. Rather, this was merely the simple manner in which the bishop requested this depiction be rendered.

New Auxiliary Bishop of Newark (part I)

On June 30, 2020 the Most Rev. Elias Lorenzo, OSB (59) up until now the Abbot-Praeses of the American-Cassinese Congregation of Benedictine Monks and a monk of St. Mary’s Abbey in Morristown, New Jersey will be ordained as the Titular Bishop of Tabuda and Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. The coat of arms assumed by him is the following:

Upon his election as Abbot-Praeses (i.e. President) of the American-Cassinese Congregation in 2016 I had the privilege of designing the coat of arms he would assume as an Abbot. Upon his appointment to the episcopacy Bishop Lorenzo decided, correctly in my opinion, not to change his arms in any way except to update the external ornaments from those of an Abbot to those of a Bishop. His armorial bearings reflect his family name, the community of his profession, his past ministry and his monastic patron.

The shield is divided by a line shaped like a chevron. This creates the general shape alluding to a mountain, in this case Mount Carmel, the mountain associated with the prophet Elijah from whose name the name Elias is derived. The large tongue of fire in the center of the lower portion of the shield (referred to as “in base”) combined with the mountain allude to St. Elias.

In addition, the blue and silver (white) checked pattern also has a multi-layered meaning. The American-Cassinese Congregation was founded by Benedictines from St. Michael’s Abbey in Bavaria. The motherhouse of the Congregation, St. Vincent Archabbey in Pennsylvania, makes use of the blue and silver fusils (a kind of elongated diamond pattern) from the coat of arms of Bavaria in its own coat of arms. Several other monasteries in the Congregation which are daughter houses or grand daughter houses of St. Vincent also make use of this pattern. One such abbey is St. Mary’s in Morristown, New Jersey. At this monastery Bishop Elias entered monastic life, made his profession of vows and was ordained. In his coat of arms the blue and silver (white) fusils have been turned sideways forming a grid of blue and white squares or checks. The grid pattern suggests the gridiron on which St. Lawrence was roasted alive as the means of his martyrdom. This is an allusion to the Abbot’s surname, “Lorenzo” which in Italian means “Lawrence”. The grid of blue and white squares combined with the fire represents St. Lawrence while at the same time the blue and white squares are a slightly differenced reference to the coat of arms of St. Mary’s Abbey as well as Bavaria in general as the homeland of the Congregation’s founders.

At the center of the flame there is a red rounded cross. This cross is taken from the coat of arms of Sant’Anselmo in Rome where, for seven years before his election as Abbot-President , the armiger was served as Prior of the monastic community.

Above the chevron in the upper portion of the shield (referred to as “in chief”) there are two blue crescents. The crescent has long been associated with Our Lady in particular under her title of the Immaculate Conception. That title is also the one by which Mary is the Patroness of the United States of America. In addition, crescents appear in the coat of arms of St. Mary’s Abbey and the coat of arms of the Delbarton School, the Abbey’s principal apostolate, both of with which Bishop Elias is closely associated.

The motto below the shield is taken from Luke 1:37 and is translated as, “Nothing is impossible with God”.

New Auxiliary Bishop of Newark (part II)

On June 30, 2020 the Most Rev. Michael Saporito (58) will be ordained as the Titular Bishop of Luperciana and Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. The coat of arms assumed by him is the following:

Bishop Saporito worked with me to choose and assume a coat of arms reflecting his priestly life and ministry. The red background is borrowed from the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Newark where the upper third of that shield (called a chief) is colored red. The bishop’s whole life, priesthood and, now, episcopate has been spent in the service of the Archdiocese.

The central symbol, or charge, is the flaming sword that is used as a symbol of his baptismal patron, St. Michael the Archangel. Michael, reckoned as the commander of the heavenly hosts wields the sword that symbolizes righteousness and God’s justice.

The sword, with a silver blade surrounded by golden flames and gold handle has two open books on either side. The pages of the books are blank and silver (white) while the books are bound in gold (yellow). These symbolize the Sacred Scriptures in both Testaments and are a reminder of the need for and the work of evangelization in the Church. The Bishop has devoted a part of his priestly ministry to the New Evangelization. 

The motto below the shield is “Feed My Sheep” (John 21:17)

New Auxiliary Bishop of Newark (part III)

On June 30, 2020 the Most Rev. Gregory Studerus (72) will be ordained as the Titular Bishop of Tarasa in Byzacena and Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. The coat of arms assumed by him is the following:

Shortly after his appointment Bishop Studerus contacted me and asked me to help design his coat of arms. He had some ideas based on a coat of arms in his possession reportedly belonging to his family as well as an abstract idea for representing urban ministry. The landscape was acceptable but I advised making the urban ministry symbol a bit less abstract and slightly more conventional. The chief takes off on the arms of the archdiocese with one of the trefoils being changed to a Green cross.

The main portion of the shield is divided by a diagonal line running from the viewer’s upper right to the lower left. This is called dividing the field with a bend sinister. The upper portion depicts a tree growing from a green hillside. The tree is depicted as we would find it in nature and shows three branches as an allusion to the Holy Trinity. All of this is set against a light blue sky. In heraldry blue is one of the five tinctures used. However, there is also the possibility of using what are known as “stains” in heraldry and among these are Bleu Celeste which is a decidedly lighter shade of blue than that usually used in heraldry and is frequently used to depict the sky. This symbol is borrowed from a coat of arms that was adopted by the bishop’s family. This section of the shield symbolizes Bishop Studerus’ love and concern for the environment.

The lower portion shows a black cross on a gold (yellow) background with the four quadrants of the cross being intersected with thin black lines spaced unevenly suggesting a map of city streets. This section of the shield symbolizes Bishop Studerus’ forty years of priestly ministry served in the city.

The upper third of the shield, called a “chief” takes it red color by borrowing from the coat of arms of the See of Newark which has a similar red chief with a crescent flanked by two trefoils. Here we see three symbols alluding to the cultural influences in the bishop’s life. The trefoil resembles the shamrock which is a symbol of St. Patrick and of Ireland. It is used here to allude to the Irish heritage of the bishop’s mother. The crescent in the center is symbolic of the Immaculate Conception of Mary which is the titular patron of the United States of America. The cross with four equally long bars, known as a “Greek cross”, does not in this instance symbolize anything Greek. Rather, it is the same cross found in the coat of arms and on the flag of Switzerland and it alludes to the Swiss heritage of the bishop’s father. All three are colored silver (white).

The motto below the shield is, “Forget Not His Love” (Psalm 103)