Monthly Archives: May 2013

An Extraordinary “Herald” (of sorts)


While certainly never holding the title of herald and not being appointed as an officer of arms in any way by anyone this man was, in his own way, the most extraordinary of contributors to the world, the science and the art of heraldry. It can be said that he was a kind of “herald of the Church” during his long career as a Churchman and Papal diplomat. A one-time assistant to the then Nuncio to France, Angelo Cardinal Roncalli (later Bl. Pope John XXIII), the first Pro-Nuncio to the United Kingdom and the first Papal diplomat above the rank of Apostolic Delegate in England in the modern era since the Reformation as well as the man who quite literally wrote the book on ecclesiastical heraldry in the Roman Catholic Church: Archbishop Bruno Bernard Heim. His original work, “Coutumes et Droits d’Heraldique de l’Eglise” was later expanded and republished with lavish illustrations as “Heraldry in the Catholic Church” (1978). This Swiss priest and diplomat designed the coats of arms for Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II. One can only imagine what the outspoken Helvetian would have made of the arms of Pope Benedict XVI or, far worse, the arms of the present pope. He was, in my opinion, the most knowledgeable person in the XX Century on the subject of ecclesiastical heraldry. As far as I’m concerned one need only justify a particular point of heraldic design or art by saying, “Heim says so”. He was also tremendously knowledgeable about heraldry in general. His book is a must read for anyone interested in the topic in addition to the four other books on heraldry he authored. Sadly, his influence over the revival of good heraldic practices in the Church is beginning to wane since his death in 2003 at age 92.

More on Private Officers of Arms

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In addition to Finlaggen Pursuivant there are three other private officers of arms currently in existence in Scotland. Slains Pursuivant is the officer of arms appointed by the Chief of the Name and Arms of Hay, currently the Earl of Erroll, Lord High Constable of Scotland. Garioch Pursuivant is athe officer of arms appointed by the Chief of the Name and Arms of Mar, currently the Countess of Mar. Endure Pursuivant is the officer of arms appointed by the Chief of the Name and Arms of Lindsay, currently the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres. Pictured above (l.-r.) are John Stirling, Slains Pursuivant; The Hon. Alexander Lindsay, Endure Pursuivant: Lt-Cmdr. Laurence of Mar, Garioch Pursuivant;

Heralds The World Over (#7: Ireland)

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This photo is also from the 2006 International Congress of Genealogical & Heraldic Sciences. We see Micheál Ó Comáin, an official of the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland, who represented that Office and wore (again, made for the occasion) a tabard bearing the arms of Ireland.

Heralds The World Over (#4: South Africa)


The two heralds from South Africa (wearing tabards made for the occasion) attending the XXVII International Congress of Genealogical & Heraldic Sciences which was held in 2006 in St. Andrews, Scotland. Marcel van Rossum, the Assistant National Herald of South Africa is on the left and the National Herald of South Africa, Themba Mabaso, is on the right.

Bishop Barber of Oakland


The coat of arms of newly ordained and installed Bishop Michael Barber, SJ of Oakland who was ordained a bishop and installed at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland today. The charge in chief of the personal arms is the insignia of the Society of Jesus to which the bishop belongs and which also features prominently in the arms of the pope who appointed him. The bishop also served as a US Navy chaplain. Hence, the anchor.

Heralds The World Over (#3: Canada)


Pictured above is Claire Boudreau, the Chief Herald of Canada sporting the brand new tabard which depicts Canadian symbols on front and back and has the royal arms of the Queen of Canada on the sleeves. She also holds her ceremonial wand of office. This photo was taken during the river pageant for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Heralds The World Over (#2: Scotland)


Here we see Finlaggen Pursuivant (one of the three private officers of arms maintained by the heads of different clans) Thomas Miers the officer of arms to the head of Clan Donald standing next to his predecessor, Adam Bruce, currently Unicorn Pursuivant to the Court of Lord Lyon wearing his tabard with the royal arms as used in Scotland where the quarter bearing the Scottish lion is repeated twice in the first and fourth quarters and the three lions of England take the secondary place.

Recent Acquisitions (part IV)

Four more today including one I missed out on purchasing from the now defunct Heraldry Today.


Papežské Znaky by Zdirad J.K. Čech published in 2009. The book is in Czech but is lavishly illustrated throughout and includes all the papal arms from the dawn of heraldry up to Pope Benedict XVI. (pictured above)

Also, Wappen und Flaggen des Deutschen Reichtes und seiner Bundesstaaten (1871-1918) published in 1979.

Wappen: Ein Spiegel von Geschicte und Politik by Harald Huber published in 1990.

Handbüchlein der Heraldik by D.L. Galbreath published in 1930.

My German is very rusty but these were very nice acquisitions for my little personal library.

Recent Acquisitions (part III)

Some more today: Heraldry For The Designer by William Metzig, published in 1970. (thanks to the recommendation of a fellow heraldist) It’s an interesting book. His style is unique but some of his ideas about heraldry border on the bizarre.

Also Royal Ceremonies of State by J.P. Brooke-Little (quondam Clarenceux King of Arms) published in 1980. As the title states its a book mostly about British royal ceremonies. However, the author being who he is there is a chapter on the Heralds and a good bit of heraldry throughout especially in the chapters on funerals and orders of chivalry. It’s also a book that illustrates well that the function of a herald isn’t limited to genealogy and the devisal of coats of arms. There are an extensive amount of ceremonial duties involved with being a herald.

Confœderatio Helvetica


I recently came back from a vacation in France during which I also spent a little time in the Confœderatio Helvetica, more commonly known as Switzerland (derived from Schwyz, the leading of the three founding cantons at the time of the confederation in 1291). It is a country that does not have a monarchy and yet where heraldry runs rampant (pardon the pun) thus giving the lie to the notion that heraldry is an antiquated idea associated with outmoded forms of government, like elitist monarchies. Elitism and monarchy do not necessarily go hand in hand. The Swiss have survived for centuries without a monarch and yet have managed, nonetheless, to become quite elitist!

Recent Acquisitions

Today I got a copy of Heraldic Cadency: The Development of Differencing of Coats of Arms for Kinsmen and Other Purposes by Lt.-Col. Robert Gayre, published in 1956. Also arrived: The Nature of Arms: An Exposition of the Meaning and Significance of Heraldry with Special Reference to its Nobiliary Aspects also by Robert Gayre. Published in 1961. As you can see, Gayre was fond of lengthy subtitles for his works. I suppose that was part of his multi-faceted neuroses. He was bonkers but the books are lovely. Look ’em up. They can be obtained inexpensively from one of the usual suspects.