Patriarch of Venice


Since April 25 is the feast of St. Mark who is the patron saint of Venice I thought it would be nice to see the arms of that city’s patriarch, Archbishop Moraglia. Venice is one of the few (arch)dioceses in Italy that uses a kind of diocesan arms. The Patriarch’s arms always have a chief (upper third of the shield) which contains a gold winged lion of St. Mark on a silver (white) background.

Doesn’t that violate the “tincture rule” of no metal on metal? Yes, it does but sometimes you just say, “What the heck?” In the case of many ancient coats of arms the tincture “rule” which is merely a custom, doesn’t apply.

The winged lion is the symbol for the Apostle and Evangelist, St. Mark. This comes from the prophecy of Ezekial and is also reflected in the Book of Revelation. The winged lion is one of the four great creatures that pull the throne-chariot of God. These creatures came to be considered representative of the authors of the four gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In his paws the lion holds an open book with the phrase, “Pax tibi Marce Evangelista meus” (Peace be to you, Mark, my Evangelist).

In addition to these arms of the See the Patriarch of Venice (an honorary title obtained during the days of the great Venetian Republic to add prestige to the city) uses the green galero with green cords and thirty green tassels (fifteen on either side of the shield). If the individual incumbent is created a cardinal he uses the regular scarlet galero of a cardinal. Some maintain that the galero of a Patriarch should have a skein of gold thread interwoven in the cords but this is not true. There were three popes in the 20th C. who had been Patriarch of Venice at the time of their election and all of them continues to use this chief of St. mark in their coat of arms as pope. They were: St. Pius X, Bl. John XXIII and Pope John Paul I.

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