Bishop Guido Marini

On October 17 Pope Francis ordained his long-serving Master of Pontifical Ceremonies, Guido Marini (56) as Bishop of Tortona at a liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica. Bishop Marini, a priest of Genoa who served as Papal MC since 2007, will be installed in his cathedral church on November 7.

The armorial bearings he has assumed were prepared by Marco Foppoli.

Bishop Robert Brennan to Brooklyn

Today, September 29, Pope Francis appointed the Most Rev. Robert Brennan, 59, Bishop of Columbus, OH since 2019 to become the 8th Bishop of Brooklyn in its 168 year history. He succeeds Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, 77, who served there since 2003.

Bishop Brennan is a NY native and was a priest, official and Auxiliary Bishop in the neighboring diocese to Brooklyn, Rockville Centre until he went to Ohio three years ago. He also studied in the Brooklyn Diocese when he attended St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens.

The arms he assumed in 2012 when he became a bishop impale nicely with those of the See of Brooklyn:

Ad Multos Annos!

Bishop Iffert of Covington

On September 30th the Rev. John C. Iffert (53) a priest of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois will be ordained a bishop and installed as the 11th Bishop of Covington, Kentucky.

The armorial bearings that he will be assuming upon entering his episcopal ministry are:

It is customary in North America for a bishop to marshal his personal coat of arms to those of his jurisdiction, in this case the See of Covington. The method most often used is impalement whereby the two separate coats of arms are depicted side by side on the same shield. This method is most often used heraldically to depict the arms of two married people who are armigerous. In employing this method in the coat of arms of a diocesan bishop it illustrated that the bishop is “married” to his diocese. The arms of the See of Covington were commissioned by William T. Mulloy, 6th bishop of Covington, following the 1953 elevation of the cathedral to a minor basilica. The gold (yellow) sword over the red cross on a silver (white) field is the symbol of Saint Paul, the Patron of the Diocese of Covington. On a chief (upper third of the shield) the gold fleur-de-lis and silver crescent are symbols of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the titular patroness of the Cathedral of the Assumption.

The right-hand side of the shield depicts the personal coat of arms now assumed by bishop Iffert. The field (background) is green a color used to symbolize hope in the liturgy and which also hearkens to the bishop’s farming ancestors, the color green being associated with the fertile land. Across the center of this field a wavy barrulet ( a line thinner than a bar or fess) represents the the rivers that flow near Belleville, IL (the Mississippi) and Covington, KY (the Ohio). These river cities are the places where Bishop Iffert has exercised his priestly and now episcopal ministry. In the upper portion there is a gold carpenter’s square and an eight-pointed star. These are symbols of St. Joseph and Our Lady. The star also appears in the coat of arms of Pope Francis so combined here they allude to the idea that Bishop Iffert was appointed by Pope Francis during the Year of St. Joseph. 

The gold garb of wheat in the lower part of the shield has multiple meaning. At harvest time wheat is brought in and gathered in sheaves or garbs. Harvest time is the time of year when we celebrate Thanksgiving and in the year Bishop Iffert was born his birthday happened to be Thanksgiving Day. In addition, the wheat alludes to what is used to confect the Eucharist, a word that means “thanksgiving”. The area of Illinois from which the bishop comes is often called “Little Egypt”. In addition, the garb of wheat is often used in heraldry to represent agriculture in general so it alludes to the bishop’s already mentioned farming ancestors. So, in the single charge of a sheaf of wheat we can allude to the Thanksgiving holiday, the act of giving thanks which is the central action of the Eucharist as the center of our Catholic lives and the matter of the Eucharist itself, the “gift of finest wheat”.

The motto below the shield is, “In All Things Give Thanks”, taken from 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

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 erroneously thought to be a processional cross like those used in liturgical processions. However, in former times archbishops 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 archbishop. Later, archbishops – and eventually all bishops – began to incorporate this symbol of rank into their coats of arms. A processional cross in Catholic usage is a crucifix and has a corpus on it while the episcopal cross very specifically does not. 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 hat with six pendant tassels (green, purple or black) on each side is universally considered in heraldry as the sign of prelacy. It, therefore, pertains to all who are actually prelates.” (Heim, Bruno B., Heraldry in the Catholic Church 1978, page 114) 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.

It was both my privilege and my pleasure to assist in the design and execution of the bishop’s coat of arms.

Blessed Stefan Wyszynski

On September 12 the Pope will beatify the late Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski (1901-1981) who was the Archbishop of Gniezno, making him also the Primate of Poland and also of Archbishop of Warsaw from 1948-1981. In 1953 he was created a Cardinal and in 1957 made Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Trastevere. After his death the two archdioceses have been under the care of separate archbishops.

His somewhat unconventional coat of arms speaks loudly of the love he had for his homeland.

Grosseto

On August 9 the Most Rev. Giovanni Roncari, OFM. Cap. (71) Bishop of Pitigliano-Sovano-Obrbetello Italy was additionally installed as the Bishop of Grosetto, Italy. Henceforth, Grosseto is united to Pitigliano-Sovana-Orbetello in persona episcopi. His coat of arms, designed by Giuseppe Quattrociocchi is below:

The chief (upper third of the shield) contains the traditional symbol of all the various types of Franciscans, namely the crossed arms of Christ and Francis with a cross. The bridge recalls the place where the bishop hails from (San Piero a Ponti) and the star is for Our Lady. The inclusion of the Florentine fleur-de-lis is to recall the city of Florence where the bishop exercised a great deal of his priestly ministry.

The coat of arms is well done, despite the asymmetry of the star and fleur-de-lis. That bothers some people but can also work very well depending on the overall design and I think it does so here.

My only criticism is the inclusion of the small Tau Cross at the center of the episcopal cross standing behind the shield. As I have frequently written about on this blog I am of the opinion that the external ornaments in a heraldic achievement, which indicate rank, not identity, should not be seen as open to personalization. But, in the grand scheme of things that is a minor criticism at best. I particularly like the shape of the shield chosen as I think it works very well with what is depicted upon it.

A Very Poor Example

At the recent installation of the Most Rev. Siegfried Jwara, CMM as Archbishop of Durban it was possible to see his personal symbol on a banner in the sanctuary. I don’t call it a coat of arms because it is composed entirely of reproductions of paintings: one of the Good Shepherd, one of Dom Francis Pfanner, OCSO, the founder of Marianhill and a portrait of another cleric.

This. Isn’t. Heraldry.

Below is a poor quality image taken from a screenshot of the video of the installation. Apologies for the poor quality. Although, perhaps it’s better not to see it more clearly. I’ll say again that you may not simply put whatever you’d like on a shield and call it a coat of arms.

Asidonia-Jerez

On July 31 Bishop José Rico Pavés, a bishop since 2012, was installed as the Bishop of Asidonia-Jerez (Jerez de la Frontera) Spain. His coat of arms is:

Generally speaking I think this is a nice coat of arms. The charges are clear and easy to discern and would be even if viewing the coat of arms greatly reduced, as on printed matter. The green portions of the lilies and the pomegranate don’t really break the tincture rule of no color on a color despite their being on a blue field because they are secondary additions to the primary charges (the blossoms of the lily and the fruit of the pomegranate themselves). Such little things can easily be tolerated.

The only real criticism I have is the notion of the anchor extending up onto the chief from the field. Charges, especially the principal charges like this one, aren’t supposed to overlap portions of the shield, especially in this instance where the shield is divided by having a chief. The chief itself is an ordinary and, as such, is considered to be placed over the upper portion of the blue field. Even if the anchor is blazoned as “overall” that doesn’t justify having it extend up to overlap the chief. In addition, it does actually violate the tincture rule of no metal on a metal since the whole body of the anchor is silver and it extends to a gold chief. Again, another good reason to have the anchor remain below the chief. Without counterchanging, it doesn’t really work so it comes off as a poor design decision.

I wonder why there is even a chief at all? Having the Sacred Heart on the anchor could have been enough justification to leave it red (on a silver anchor), or it could have been depicted all in gold and then the entire arms could have simply had a blue field.

Nevertheless, despite this one item, the rest of the coat of arms is, in my opinion, very nice.

Olympic Heraldry

Since 1894 there have been nine Presidents of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Five of them have also been armigerous in their own right. The first IOC President, Demetrius Vikelas, was not and neither were the fourth, Sigfrid Edström, the fifth, Avery Brundage, or the ninth and current IOC President, Thomas Bach.

Pierre, Baron de Coubertain, the “Father” of the modern Olympics. 2nd IOC President 1896-1925
Henri, Comte de Baillet-Latour 3rd IOC President 1925-1942
Michael Morris, Baron Killanin 6th IOC President 1972-1980
Juan Antonio, Marquess of Samaranch 7th IOC President 1980-2001
Jacques, Count Rogge 8th IOC President 2001-2013

Las Vegas’ First Auxiliary

On Friday, July 16 the Most Rev. Gregory Gordon (60), a priest of the Diocese of Las Vagas, Nevada will be ordained as the Titular Bishop of Nova Petra and the first Auxiliary Bishop of Las Vegas. The armorial bearings he is assuming are:

The shield is divided with a chevron as an allusion to the paternal family name and also as one for the state of Nevada (which partly includes the Sierra Nevada range). It is snow-covered as a nod to the name “nevada”. The mountain also represents Mt. Carmel because the bishop is being ordained on the feats of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The upper portion contains charges borrowed from the arms of his patron saint, Gregory the Great with a further allusion to Gregory’s seminal work on the office of bishop, the Liber Regulae Pastoralis. The star in the crook of the crozier is a symbol for Our Lady and the Tau cross a reference to St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan missionaries who pioneered the work of the Church in Nevada.

The lower portion displays a charge referring to a Eucharistic miracle in which the Host in a monstrance was turned to flesh in Lanciano, near the part of Italy from which the bishop’s maternal family come. It also refers to the Eucharist at the heart of priestly and episcopal ministry. Furthermore, it alludes to the Sacred heart of Jesus. It rests on a base suggesting a rock (the rock of St. Peter) as well as an allusion to the name of the titular see, Nova Petra.

The motto is taken from the Communion Rite of the liturgy and is also a reference to the Centurion’s acclamation in Matthew 8:8. Suspended below the shield is the insignia of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, of which the bishop is a Knight Commander. In addition, all bishops in the Order are accorded the rank of Knight Commander with star.

I was privileged to assist the bishop with creating the design of his coat of arms and also emblazoned them.

Bishop Koenig of Wilmington

On July 13 the Most Rev. William Koenig (64) a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, NY will be ordained a bishop and installed as the 10th Bishop of Wilmington, Delaware. The coat of arms he has chosen to assume is illustrated below impaled with those of the See of Wilmington.

The arms of the See are based on those of the Lords De La Warr one of whom, Thomas West, was Governor of Virginia and for whom the state and river are named. The crosses allude to the arms of the Lords Baltimore, proprietors of Maryland because the diocese covers all of Delaware and the eastern Shore portions of Maryland. The gold lion borrows from the arms of Bl. Pius IX who erected the See.

While the new bishop’s name would lend itself easily to symbols of St. William the Abbot and a royal crown (the name Koenig means “king”) he has, somewhat disappointingly, decided to use arms that allude to various aspects of his priestly career. These are the typical “CV arms” against which I am always warning. American bishops are fixated on their coats of arms “telling the story” of their lives rather than simply doing what coats of arms are supposed to do: identify.

These arms aren’t horrible. They are merely disappointing. They could have been SO much better.

New Garter

On July 2 David Vines White (59) was appointed Garter Principal King of Arms at HM College of Arms in London. This is the most senior of the three Kings of Arms. He had previously been Somerset Herald and before that Rouge Croix Pursuivant. He succeeds Sir Thomas Woodcock who has served as Garter since 2010. Congratulations to the new Garter King of Arms!

Bishop Dell’Oro

On July 2 the Most Rev. Italo Dell’Oro, CRS (68) will be ordained titular bishop of Sucarda and Auxiliary Bishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas. The armorial bearings he is assuming are:

This is not my favorite design but it is not terrible either. The division line embattled and everything in chief look fine. I’m not fond of the kind of “landscape heraldry” depicted in base. Nevertheless, that type of heraldic design appeals to many and there are no errors in this design. What I dislike about it is simply a matter of taste which is purely subjective.

Bishop Golka of Colorado Springs

On June 29 the Most Rev. James Golka (54) a priest of the Diocese of Grand Island, Nebraska, will be ordained a bishop and installed as the third Bishop of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The coat of arms he is assuming is:

The green field with the gold and silver wavy barrulets represent the bishop’s home state of Nebraska and the Wood and Platte rivers. The pelican in its piety in chief is a symbol of the Eucharist and the sword, in base, a symbol of St. Michael, stands for the ministry of deliverance and healing. The star in base is a symbol of Our Lady. The cathedral in Grand Island is dedicated to the Nativity of mary. It is where the bishop received his Sacraments of Initation, was ordained a priest and served as Rector since 2016. The motto is taken from 1 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 1.

I have no desire to comment on the arms of the See of Colorado Springs. They are well established. The bishop’s personal arms have a good rationale for why the particular charges were chosen. It is a relatively simple design and clear and doesn’t violate any of the usual heraldic conventions. It’s not terribly exciting or impressive in my opinion but that is a very subjective assessment. Overall, I’d say, a nice coat of arms.

Great Use of a Wonderful Coat of Arms

In 1966 Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York celebrated the golden jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood. A special commemorative medal was struck to mark the occasion. The obverse depicted a portrait in profile of the cardinal. The reverse (pictured) depicted his very nicely designed coat of arms. These arms are actually not those he assumed upon becoming a bishop. When he moved to New York he adopted an entirely different coat of arms which he used for the rest of his life. Those are on the medal.

The personal coat of arms containing a chief “of Religion” is shown, as is tradition, impaled with he arms of the See of New York. In addition, as was the older usual custom in addition to the cardinal’s galero and archiepiscopal cross there are both a mitre and a crozier (turned “outward”) depicted as well as the cross of the Order of Malta placed behind the shield.

Monk & Priest

Fr. Pachomius Meade, OSB a monk and priest of Conception Abbey in Missouri is an artist by avocation. He is very interested in heraldry as well and has had occasion to design some very nice coats of arms. But, up until now, he had not adopted armorial bearings for himself. With my encouragement he eventually set about doing so and, in my opinion, took the right path which was to take his time and go through many draft ideas. He has finally settled on a design which I also told him was a striking and good one.

The explanation of the charges chosen for this design are in his own words:

The top third of the shield (chief) is made up of two charges (one repeated). It depicts a royal crown between two birds’ claws erased. The talons are designed so as to be obviously those of falcons. Heraldry often places leather straps (jess) and bells on falcon legs. I took the artistic license to show the feathers around the talon in a diagonal conical form, as several species of falcons display around their legs. The talons plus the crown together are a rebus for my religious name Pachomius, which in the Coptic language means “king’s falcon.” These charges on a chief make them, therefore, canting arms, which is to say the arms “speak” the name of the armiger. Additionally, the base of the chief – which is usually a straight line – is enarched, a very simple variation on the line. I liked the idea of an elegant variant such as this.  Other than the stylistic choice, on a personal level I like that it is Romanesque, which is the style of my abbey’s basilica and is a subtle nod to the structure of a church.  

The lower two thirds of the shield depict smaller white shields (escutcheons) on a green field. The repeated charge spread evenly on a field in heraldry is called semy or semé, meaning “seeded.” This is a feature of heraldry that I particularly love and what was lacking in some of my original ideas for a coat of arms. The charge of a white shield without a charge of its own is a traditional symbol for a painter or heraldist. Probably my most obvious talent since I was a child has been art and it seemed like a no-brainer to have this charge. Again, there’s nothing more to it than that, but my own theological reflection on this part of the shield can also be that monastic life is called a white martyrdom – to distinguish from red martyrdom – and the spiritual combat of this charism. My surname is Meade, which is a meadow, and a green field makes sense (although, I believe my last name is really an Anglicized Gaelic word that had a completely unrelated definition).”  

I think he has come up with a clear bold design. The symbolism of the charges makes sense. He kept the overall design somewhat simple. The choice of tinctures is not only good from the point of view of symbolism they are aesthetically pleasing. The priest’s galero above the shield symbolizes his priesthood while the chaplet (rosary) encircling the shield is the accepted heraldic external ornament indicative of the armiger being a Consecrated Religious, in this case, a professed monk.

I say, “Well done!”. Incidentally, the artwork is by Fr. Pachomius as well.

DO NOT FOLLOW THIS EXAMPLE!

Recently, while taking a short trip for some post-Easter R&R I went to visit friends in western Pennsylvania. I found myself in the town of Loretto, PA where I had attended college at St. Francis University (but in my day it was still just St. Francis College). In that town is the fine parish church of St. Michael, built entirely at the expense of Charles M. Schwab, the US Steel president whose summer residence was located in Loretto. His former mansion is now the motherhouse of the TOR Franciscans who run the university. Schwab generously built the fine romanesque revival structure and donated it to the parish. Andrew Carnegie donated the church’s pipe organ. Some time ago the church was designated a minor basilica. It’s churchyard is the resting place of its founder, Father (Prince) Demetrius Gallitzin.

While looking around the lovely structure which has been spruced up since the the days when I occasionally saw it as a student some 37 years ago I noted in a side chapel a large display of the basilica’s coat of arms…and almost vomited.

What a poor coat of arms for the purpose intended. In fact, it is simply the Altoona-Johnstown diocesan coat of arms with the base changed to have the arms of St. John Paul II (who bestowed the dignity of basilica on the church) shoved in as well. The motto is the one used by the bishop at the time the church was raised to basilican rank.

The fess with three plates is borrowed from the arms of William Penn. The two charges in chief represent the cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona and the co-cathedral of St. John Gualbert in Johnstown. The cross in base is borrowed from the coat of arms of the aforementioned Demetrius Gallitzin. Of course the ombrellino and crossed keys are typical external ornaments of a minor basilica.

But what a complete lack of creativity this design displays. Instead of alluding to the diocese or to the pope who bestowed the honor it is the arms of the diocese and the arms of that pope shoved together. There is absolutely nothing in there to identify the basilica as being dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, or being located in Loretto, or to the Franciscan heritage of that place. The slender line dividing the silver Gallitzin cross from the arms of John Paul II is also heraldically unsupportable. From beginning to end this thing is junk.

It was so horribly disappointing to see this is what was used. The raising of the church to the rank of a basilica occurred only in 1996. By that time the internet was an easy place to find the right person or the right guidance on the design and creation of a fitting coat of arms. There is no excuse for the horrible result they ended up with, except the laziness or arrogance of those in charge of that decision.

This basilica coat of arms is useful for one thing and one thing only: to serve as an example of what not to do!

Bishop of the Virgin Islands

On April 17, 2021 the Most Rev. Jerome Feudjio (65) a priest of the Diocese of St. Thomas, American Virgin Islands was ordained a bishop and installed as the sixth Bishop of St. Thomas. The bishop is a native of Cameroon. The armorial bearings he has assumed are:

These are placed here for your information with no further comment. (I’m feeling charitable today)