An Heraldic “CV”


Above you see what I like to call my “heraldic curriculum vitae”. (click on the image for a larger view) Essentially, it is a record of the various things I have done in my life illustrated by using heraldry. I commissioned the very talented architect, designer and graphic artist, Matthew Alderman to create this artwork. I conceived of the idea for this a few years ago when I received a friend’s bookplate that had not only his own coat of arms on it but the coats of arms of the various universities he attended and the dioceses in which he had served. A few months back Matt asked me to help him with some heraldic research for another commission on which he was working and when he showed me the sketches for it I knew he was the man to produce this heraldic CV.

My own coat of arms is at the center flanked by the coats of arms of the diocese in which I serve and the diocese in which I was born and grew up. Below that we see two other versions of my arms reflecting other capacities in which I serve with the coat of arms of the Roman Catholic Church between them. The bottom consists of the coats of arms of various schools I’ve attended and the sides are comprised of the coats of arms or other insignia for a variety of organizations to which I belong and/or serve as an officer or chaplain.

The image doesn’t really do it justice. In person it is stunning!

10 thoughts on “An Heraldic “CV”

  1. Novice at arms (get it?)

    I’m a dabbler in all of this, so please explain further. You have your arms impaled with other arms. This seems to be something reserved for the current bishop of a diocese. Please explain. Also – not pertaining to this post, but to your post about Pope Francis – how would an ordained member of a religious order be able to reference their order without seeming to claim jurisdiction. Would a member of a third order (ordained or not) signify their affiliation to the community somehow in their achievement? [Is there an precedent here in the arms of royalty who join religious communities, like Queen St. Isabel of Portugal and her Aunt Queen St. Elizabeth of Hungary – both Franciscan tertiaries, I believe.] Sorry, that’s a lot in one comment. 🙂

    1. guyselvester Post author

      The impalement of arms originated in the marshaling of the coats of arms of married armigerous persons. It is because bishops are “married” to their diocese that their personal arms are impaled with the arms of their see. This is not something exclusive to ecclesiastical heraldry and most certainly NOT reserved to diocesan bishops or to anyone for that matter. I don’t know where you got that impression but nothing could be farther from the truth. The arms of any individual may be impaled with the arms of any institution over which he has charge or with the arms of any office he holds if such exist. This can even be done for offices that are held temporarily or even for a finite term. So, abbots impale their personal arms with those of their abbey. Pastors may impale their personal arms (if they bear arms) with those of their parish (if it has arms). I am the Rector of the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament so I am entitled to impale my personal arms with those of the Shrine during my tenure as Rector.

      As for your other question: it pertains to a different post so rather than answer it here you should comment separately.

  2. AndrewWS

    And I surmise that you’re a chaplain to both the Order of SS Maurice and Lazarus and the French Ordre du Saint Esprit. A remarkable achievement in itself (no pun intended)

    1. guyselvester Post author

      No. I am a member of the Order of Ss. Maurice & Lazarus but the insignia you have supposed to be of the French Ordre du Saint Esprit is, in fact, the insignia of a fourth degree member of the American Catholic fraternal organization, the Knights of Columbus, of which I am a chaplain.


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