Monthly Archives: February 2014

Parish of St. Catherine Labouré in Harrisburg, PA


The arms naturally incorporate images found on the Miraculous Medal, which had been first entrusted to Catherine Labouré by the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The shield incorporates four images found on the Medal, the Marian monogram, the stars from Sacred Scripture (as ascribed to Mary in the Apocalypse: 12-13), and the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary side by side.  The shield is worked in blue and in gold.  On this gold field is found the Marian cipher, a letter “M” surmounted by a Christian Cross, an image presented to Saint Catherine by the Virgin Mary herself.  It is blue, as it represents the Blessed Mother specifically.

The blue field above represents the Blessed Virgin, of course, but more so in Her title of Our Lady of Grace.  Upon this field appear the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, linked theologically as Mary always stood beside her Son.  These two images associated with the Miraculous Medal are surrounded by the twelve stars that surround Mary’s head as a halo in many Marian images, most definitely those associated with Her as Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal as seen on the reverse side of the medal itself.  Both hearts suffer and bleed for the world.

Saint Catherine supports the shield in her historic and colorful habit of a Daughter of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul as it was worn at the time of her life on earth.  Saint Catherine stands on a compartment upon a green river bank above the blue waters of the Susquehanna River that runs through the state capital city to which the parish is near.  The shield rests upon a stone, specifically a keystone, the emblem of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Next to the keystone is found a floral spray composed of shamrocks honoring the patron saint of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Saint Patrick of Ireland; and mountain laurel, the official flower of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Design: J. Noonan  Art: L. Nicholson

Heraldic Vestments

Usually, I am not a big fan of heraldry being used as a decorative motif on vestments and pontificalia. Every now and again, however, it can work. The example below shows the Most Rev. John J. Myers, Metropolitan Archbishop of Newark, NJ. The chasuble he wears is decorated with a shield (partially obscured by his pallium) bearing his personal coat of arms as is the base of the mitre he is wearing. I think this is a good example of how heraldry can be used to decorate vestments in a way that is neither overpowering nor inappropriate.


Bishop Deeley of Portland, ME


The coat of arms of Most Rev. Robert Deeley installed on February 14 as the 12th Bishop of Portland, Maine.

The right side of the shield is divided by a wavy line to suggest water. This theme continues in the lower portion with alternating silver and blue waves, suggesting deep waters and his home see of Boston. Resting on the waters is a scallop or pilgrim’s shell, which, for Bishop Deeley, represents both baptism and a special homage to Pope Benedict XVI, who chose Bishop Deeley for the episcopacy and whose own shield also includes a shell. The silver color of the shell represents the purity of God. Above this is a lion, which Bishop Deeley considers to be emblematic of his family. The front half of the lion is rendered in black and the hindquarters are in red, with the claws and tongue taking the opposite colors.

The left side of the shield, representing the Diocese of Portland, features the diocesan coat of arms, which includes a field of blue with a scattering of gold pine cones. It is based on an ancient French royal family coat of arms and reflects the French roots of the diocese, which date back to 1604.

At the time of his episcopal ordination last year, Bishop Deeley chose as his motto “Veritatem Facere in Caritate,” which he translates as “living the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Design: J. Noonan
Artwork: L. Nicholson

Two New Korean Bishops

Two Auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Seoul, Korea were ordained today. There coats of arms are interesting. They are Bishops Timothy Yu Gyoung-chon and Peter Chung Soon-taek, OCD. (that is, Order of Discalced Carmelites). The coat of arms of Bishop Timothy is unconventional bordering on the bizarre. It makes extensive use of writing and seems to have the motto on the shield itself. It also makes use of no external ornaments to indicate these are the arms of a bishop. On the other hand the coat of arms of Bishop Peter is more conventional in appearance. His arms are primarily composed of the coat of arms of the Order of Discalced Carmelites differenced by the exclusion of the two additional stars that usually appear in the upper left and right thirds of the shield. In addition, he employs a galero that is somewhat unique to Asian heraldry. The tassels are green as would be usual for a prelate with the rank of bishop. However, the hat is decidedly not green. Here it is a shade of red but sometimes a purple hat is used. This is to avoid the awkward and embarrassing situation that would arise from a bishop employing a green hat. To “wear a green hat” is a colloquial expression in many parts of Asia that means the man is a cuckold. To avoid this association with the well known expression many Asian bishops from various countries make use of a hat of some color other than green.