Monthly Archives: January 2014

Bishop Olson of Fort Worth


On January 29 the Most Rev. Michael Fors Olson will be ordained and installed as the fourth bishop of Fort Worth, Texas. His personal arms depict a symbol for the Holy Trinity as an allusion to Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving, Texas where the bishop served as Rector. Below the sword and pan balance is symbolic of his baptismal patron, St. Michael. The blue fess in the center bears the spikenard flower taken from the arms of Pope Francis as well as two yellow roses (a allusion to Texas) representing Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Thérèse the “Little Flower”. The motto means “The Splendor of the Truth”. The coat of arms of Bishop Olson were designed and marshaled to those of the diocese by Deacon Paul Sullivan.

Constantinian Order Reconciliation


It was announced yesterday that the Duke of Noto (Spanish branch) and the Duke of Castro (Neapolitan branch) of the royal house of the Two Sicilies signed an accord which, while it does not completely solve the issue of the headship of the royal house more closely ties the two heads of the royal orders together in closer cooperation as co-grand masters with equal footing of the Sacred Military and Constantinian Order of St. George. This is a positive step toward healing a very long-standing rift.

(artwork by Carlos Navarro)

Auxiliary Bishop of Lausanne, Genève & Fribourg


The coat of arms of the newly ordained auxiliary bishop of Lausanne, Genève & Fribourg in Switzerland, the Most Rev. Alain de Raemy. His arms are colorful and interesting and, in continental fashion, employ lots of elements repeated in four quarters. This method seems odd to those who are used to arms that are marshaled only to indicate jurisdiction over a territory like a diocese or abbey. But, it is not uncommon in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

The artwork is by Laurent Granier.

New Archbishop of Salzburg


The new archbishop of Salzburg, Austria, Dr. Franz Lackner, OFM will be installed on January 12. His coat of arms employs the traditional red galero used by ancient custom by the archbishops of Salzburg (who hold the title “Primate of Germany”) because of their role as Papal Legate. This red galero with 20 tassels is used even if the archbishop is not a Cardinal. If he is promoted to Cardinal then another row of tassels is added to the galero. Similarly, the archbishops of Salzburg wear red, not purple, even if they are not Cardinals.

The arms also illustrate that the method of marshaling coats of arms preferred in many places, impalement, is far from the only option. The ancient arms of the See of Salzburg make up the upper third of the shield. The center section of blue with the gold grapevine is primarily emblematic of those referred to in Jn 15:1-5 the Lord’s vineyard and the strong connection between Christ and the believer (“I am the vine; you are the branches.”) . At the same time the vine but is also reference to the origin of Dr. Lackner from the wine area , namely that of Eastern Styria around Kapfenstein and St. Anna am Aigen. The golden heraldic lily is the actual symbol for Mary. The threefold division of the fleur-de-lis symbolizes the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The green base shows the “Franciscan Conformities” or the coat of arms of the Franciscan Order (without the clouds).

Archbishop Gagnon of Winnipeg, Canada


On January 3 Archbishop Richard Gagnon, formerly bishop of Victoria was installed as Archbishop of Winnipeg. The arms (above) which he assumed upon becoming a bishop are retained. The shield is partly inspired by the emblem of Bishop Gagnon’s predecessor, Modeste Demers (1809-1871), the first Bishop of Vancouver Island. Bishop Demers and Bishop Gagnon are closely related via a collateral branch of the Demers family. Bishop Demers’ emblem was red and gold and featured a gold Latin cross set on a mount with two figures praying at the base of the cross. These tinctures have been kept, as has the cross. Since Bishop Gagnon was ordained on June 24th, the feast day of St. John the Baptist, the two charges are gold Agnus Dei emblems, traditionally associated with St. John the Baptist. This is also a reference to Bishop Gagnon’s ancestral roots in Quebec.

He may impale these arms with those of the archdiocese (below). In addition, the episcopal cross behind the shield will become an archiepiscopal cross with two horizontal bars and another row of green tassels will be added to the galero.



UPDATE: The only image I was able to obtain so far of the Archbishop’s arms impaled is in black and white. As one commenter on this post has already pointed out there have been slight changes made to the arms of the archdiocese.



Bishop Matano of Rochester, NY


Salvatore Matano will be installed today as the ninth bishop of Rochester, New York succeeding Bishop matthew Clark who has served there for the last thirty four years. Rochester is also the diocese where the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen served as diocesan bishop briefly before being promoted to titular archbishop of Newport.

The description of the bishop’s coat of arms (taken from material provided by the diocese) is as follows:

“On a blue field is a silver moline cross taken from the heraldry of the bishop’s native diocese of Providence, Rhode Island; a golden star with seven points simultaneously recalls the Divine institution of the Seven Sacraments and the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.  The liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows is observed on the 15th day of September, the day of Bishop Matano’s birth. In base are seven silver hills on which the Eternal City of Rome – the city of the Bishop’s priestly formation and graduate education – and the City of Providence – the city of the Bishop’s birth and preliminary education – are said to be built. The blue background symbolizes the ascent of the human soul towards God, with whom each of us was created to dwell in unapproachable light.”

The personal arms are those he assumed when he became a bishop in 2005.

Bishop Caggiano UPDATE


The diocese of Bridgeport, CT has finally released the coat of arms of Bishop Frank Caggiano which were posted here earlier. As has become increasingly frequent these days the bishop has chosen to completely redesign his personal arms in having them impaled (that is, marshaled together side-by-side on the same shield) with the arms of the See of Bridgeport. This is an ill-advised course of action. Nevertheless, many heraldic designers and artists who may be consulted to prepare the coat of arms of a bishop but who did not originally design the bishop’s personal arms encourage them to redesign their arms. One wonders if this is primarily because they wish to “have a crack at it” and improve on what they see to be an inferior design?

More often than not a competent artist can improve a poor design simply by the manner in which it is depicted artistically. This saves the unfortunate consequence of changing the personal arms of the bearer long after they have already become associated with him as his personal emblem. It can be seen as a repudiation of everything that came before. For a bishop this is, perhaps, not the best signal to send as it looks rather like he is negating all the ministry he did previous to the present moment and starting fresh rather than continuing in ministry. In fact, it was for this very reason that soon-to-be Saint John Paul II insisted on leaving the letter “M” in his coat of arms despite the protestations of the late great Bruno Heim that letters were inappropriate heraldic charges. John Paul II argued that even though it was heraldically a poor design he had already borne those arms for years and under Communist rule where the Church in Poland was seen as a haven for those who loved freedom. To change the arms upon election as pope might inadvertently send the signal that his stance against Communism would somehow modify or soften with his new position. This was something John Paul II wasn’t willing to risk even the appearance of. So, while he acquiesced to Heim’s suggestion of changing the colors from black on blue to gold on blue the “M” stayed.

So here we see that Bishop Caggiano, upon assuming the office of Diocesan Bishop of Bridgeport has chosen to mark the occasion not only by marshaling his personal arms with those of the diocese as is the usual custom in North America but also by abandoning the coat of arms he assumed upon becoming a bishop in favor of a redesigned coat of arms that retains the same basic elements rearranged in a new way…for reasons passing understanding.

If a redesign somehow greatly improves a coat of arms then it could be argued that it is justified. However, in this case any improvement is difficult to see.