Bishop Peter Brown, CSsR of Samoa-Pago Pago


The coat of arms of the Most Rev. Peter Brown, CSsR who will be ordained a bishop and installed as the Bishop of Samoa-Pago Pago in American Samoa on August 22, the Feast of the Queenship of Mary.

The arms are loosely based on the flag of American Samoa and also contain symbols of the bishop’s native place in New Zealand, the Holy Family, his Religious Community and the Pacific Islands where he will serve as bishop.

The coat of arms was designed by me and Mr. Richard d’Apice and here rendered by Mr. Sandy Turnbull.

11 thoughts on “Bishop Peter Brown, CSsR of Samoa-Pago Pago

  1. Hans van Heijningen

    Hello father Guy
    This is a beautiful coat of arms, but I don’t understand the motto. It is Samoan. I googled but the possible explaining articles are also in Samoan.
    1. Can you explain me the motto of this by you designed c.o.a.?, and ..what is the motto in Latin? What could Mgr. Brown wish to say to us / the inhabitants of his diocese?
    2. And the symbol in dexter-chief: you explain it as a symbol for the Holy Family, but is’nt there more? This here is a Celtic knot, a Triquetra. Mgr. Hartmayer, bishop of Savannah, uses this symbol to point to the Irish heritage along his mothers family-line. Can you explain what you meant?

    The other symbols, the CSSR-cross and the Samoan eagle are clear.

    Greetings and thanks, Hans van Heijningen, Utrecht (NL)

    1. guyselvester Post author

      I don’t recall what the motto is either in English or any other language. I’ll try to find out. Ecclesiastical mottoes may be in any language desired by the armiger. As for the symbol in dexter chief I meant exactly what I wrote. There is no assigned meaning to particular charges. Charges are chosen for the reasons the armiger chooses them. The bishop wanted a single, simple symbol of the Holy Family. Rather than a portrait which would be unheraldic or a convoluted mess of three separate symbols for Jesus, Mary and Joseph he liked the triquetra intertwined with a circle. This made for a single charge that represented the three members of the Holy Family bound together in one family. It is a Celtic symbol usually associated with the Trinity but just as another bishop decided to use it as a symbol of his Irish heritage (even though the Celts didn’t only live in Ireland) another has decided it is a fitting symbol of the Holy Family. There’s nothing more to it than that.

      1. Hans van Heijningen

        Thanks father Guy. I hope on an explanation at some time for the motto.

  2. Hans van Heijningen

    Thanks father Guy for your quick action.

    I myself have the opinion that our RC church is a universal church with Rome as the centre.

    In the society we use english as a word-language so that everywhere can understand each other.

    In our RC-church we have the Latin. Latin can build a bridge between all local churches by being a lingua franca, next to the local language. I think a heraldic motto is a well tool for building such a bridge. A motto in Samoan won’t be understood outside the Pacific and a motto in Dutch only in the 32.000 km2 Netherlands.
    When I designed a c.o.a. for a (here: Dutch) bishop I Always advise to take a Latin motto. But yes, a bishop is free to choose the language he wishes.

    Besides that the Latin Liturgy is too beautiful and sacral to be lost. I am a member of the board of the Dutch Society for Latin Liturgy.

    For heraldic bishops motto’s in the RC-church I think the best practice is to have the LATIN motto on the arms at the bishops see and official documents and for less official purposes the motto -when desired- in the LOCAL language. For other episcopal churches like the Old RC church, motto’s in the local language will be sufficient.

    Greetings, Hans van Heijningen, Utrecht (NL)

    1. guyselvester Post author

      I’m not unsympathetic to your point. I suppose I just don’t have a strong feeling one way or the other. I do, however, try to avoid the attitude adopted by some in the heraldic world that the motto “must” be in Latin for a cleric. For example, my own motto is in English because it is a pun on my Baptismal name, Guy, which means “a guide”. If it were in Latin the play on words doesn’t work. In Bishop Brown’s case I recall it was important to him that the motto be easily understood by the people of his diocese whom he serves which is a laudable motivation. Latin is universal in the Church. We are making use of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin right now at my parish and for six years I celebrated the only Latin Mass in my diocese every Sunday. But, as you have written, other languages may and are also used.


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