Monthly Archives: March 2014

Bishop Myron Cotta

Earlier today the Most Rev. Myron Cotta was ordained as the Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento, California. His newly assumed arms are below.


The field is divided by an inverted chevron alluding to a carpenter’s square for St. Joseph and the San Joaquin Valley. In chief there is an amphora charged with the letters “SC” for sacred chrism. The bishop’s given name, Myron, is the Greek word for the sacred oil.

In base there appears a monogram composed of the letters “I”, “M” and “H”. This stands for (if you can believe it) the Immaculate heart of Mary with the “M” taking the most prominent place. The bishop has a great devotion to Our Lady under this title.

The motto translates to “Grace and Mercy” and is in Portuguese to reflect the bishop’s ethnicity as being from the Azores.

Well, there is an overabundance of the use of letters in this achievement. Someone clearly never heard that the use of letters in heraldry is considered port design. The “SC” on the amphora is, in my opinion, unnecessary. The amphora alone is a sufficient symbol for sacred oil. Why not actually depict the Immaculate Heart of Mary instead of abbreviating it? The monogram is an example of extremely poor design. It’s weak and not self evident where the image of the Immaculate heart would have been. In addition, since most people don’t know that the name Myron means sacred oil they will naturally assume that the gigantic “M” in the coat of arms stands for Myron and not for Mary.

This was done by Paul Sullivan. Not one of his best efforts.

Bishop Zglejszewski

The coat of arms (below) of Bishop Andrzej Zglejszewski who will be ordained titular bishop of Nicives and Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, NY on March 25. The bishop is a native of Poland but emigrated to the USA before ordination and was ordained for the Long Island diocese.


The following description is from the program of his ordination: The symbolism to be found in Bishop Zglejszewski’s coat of arms begins with the colors, also called tinctures. The major part of the shield is painted white (argent) over red (gules), which recalls the national flag and coat of arms of Poland, where the Bishop was born. The blue (azure) found in the top half of the border joins these first two tinctures to recall the national colors of the United States of America, to which he immigrated in 1987. The gold (Or) of the lower half joins the white to recall the colors of the Vatican City-State. Blue and gold, together recalling the sea and sand of the island diocese, are the primary tinctures of the coat of arms of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, where he was ordained a priest in 1990 and which he will now serve as Auxiliary Bishop. The color blue at the top of the shield recalls that Mary is Queen of Heaven and Help of Christians, who spreads her protective mantle over her children. Our Lady is also symbolized by the fleur-de-lis at the bottom of the shield. This stylized lily has been used for many centuries to recall her virginal purity. Placed on the shield together with three Crosses, it alludes also to Mary, the faithful disciple, standing at the foot of the Cross of her Son on Calvary.

The saltire or “X” shape in the center of the shield is also known as Saint Andrew‟s Cross, after the Apostle who, according to tradition, was crucified on a Cross in this shape. Saint Andrew is the Bishop’s baptismal patron. Like the shield itself, the saltire is divided across the middle, in an arrangement called counterchanging: where the shield is red, it is painted white, and is red where the shield is white. This coloration allows for another layer of symbolism, in each of the parts of the saltire. The white bottom half of the saltire becomes a depiction of the carpenter‟s square, a traditional symbol of Saint Joseph, the Husband of Mary. The carpenter’s square appears to cover and protect the fleur-de-lis, symbolizing Saint Joseph’s protection both of Our Lady and of the Universal Church. The top half of the saltire, painted red, reminds one of the Holy Spirit, and the grace that he brings by his descent upon the newborn Church at Pentecost. The Bishop has dedicated much of his ministry to the study and service of Divine Worship, and this part of the saltire also recalls the grace of the Sacraments which is given to the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.

The two crosses on either side of the saltire are also counterchanged, and symbolize not only the crosses on Calvary but also the passion and martyrdom of Saint Agnes, the patron of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. This heroic young woman faced martyrdom at the age of 13 in Rome; tradition says she was turned in to the authorities by suitors she had spurned because she made a vow of virginity to Christ. She bore a double cross: the “white martyrdom” of purity, and the “red martyrdom” that involved the shedding of her blood.

Bishop Baldacchino

Below is an image from “The Florida Catholic” of the coat of arms of the newly ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Miami, the Most Rev. Peter Baldacchino. I am disappointed that the bishop chose to make no allusion to his baptismal patron, St. Peter, in the coat of arms. Similarly, I am disappointed that he passed up the obvious choice to have canting arms by depicting a baldacchino, or canopy, over an altar. In fact, it might have been interesting to depict the famous Bernini baldacchino of St. Peter’s Basilica as a way to combine the two. Instead, he has chosen a cluttered design filled with far too many charges in an attempt to create a “C.V. in pictures” which is precisely what a coat of arms is NOT.


The description of the symbolism in the design is also from “The Florida Catholic”:

Dominating the coat of arms is Christ crucified. The Cross emerges as a sign of victory over death, represented by the waters of the baptismal font, the source of Christian life which communicates to every Christian the victory of Christ. The baptismal font is a reference also to his own rediscovery of baptism through the Neocatechumenal Way and to the work of evangelization: bringing people to live their baptism so that they may receive divine life.

Beneath the Cross and baptismal font is found an image of a palm tree upon which a lobster rests, a well-known symbol of the early Church, representing the mystery of salvation through baptism: a sea creature, accustomed to live in the waters of sin, through the work of the Holy Spirit, can leave behind its natural environment and live upon a palm tree, symbol of eternity and paradise.

Above the Cross hovers a dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, who is the life of the Church, and without whom nothing can be done. In the upper part are found the moon, representing the Blessed Virgin Mary: “And a great sign was seen in heaven; a woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1); and the Cross of Malta, but also the star which leads the way to Christ. The palm tree is also a reference to the Archdiocese of Miami, and the lobster to the Turks and Caicos Islands, where Bishop Baldacchino ministered for 15 years. The coat of arms is completed by the three waves of the baptismal font representing the three rivers of the Archdiocese of Newark, where Bishop Baldacchino was ordained in 1996.

The motto translates to: “Where God is, there is joy”.

Bishop Christian Riesbeck, CC

On March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph which is the patronal feast day of Canada, the Most rev. Christian H. Riesbeck, CC will be ordained as Auxiliary bishop of Ottawa, Canada. His coat of arms (below) is explained as follows (taken from the website of the Companions of the Cross, the community to which the new bishop belongs):

The dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit, the principal agent of the Church’s evangelizing activity. The host in the dove’s beak points to the importance of the Eucharist as the center of the Church’s life. The roses represent the flowers given to St. Juan Diego in his tilma by Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and Star of the New Evangelization, and they also commemorate Bishop Riesbeck’s ministry to a predominantly Hispanic parish in Houston, Texas for nine years as pastor.

The lilies are a symbol of St. Joseph, the patron saint of the universal Church, of Canada and of the Archdiocese of Ottawa, on whose feast day Bishop Riesbeck is ordained a bishop. Along with the blue colour, they also refer to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the province of Quebec, Bishop Riesbeck’s birthplace. The cross at the bottom, symbol of Christ crucified, the Power and Wisdom of God – its red colour symbolizing the blood of Jesus – is taken from the emblem of the Society of the Companions of the Cross, Bishop Riesbeck, being the first member of the Society to be made a bishop. The arching division line represents the Church’s presence throughout the world.


Bishop of Harrisburg, PA

On March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Most Rev. Ronald W. Gainer, until now bishop of Lexington, Kentucky, will be installed as the 11th Bishop of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania the city which also serves as the capital of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. His coat of arms (below) is composed of the arms of the See of Harrisburg depicting a red cross on a silver field charged with a shamrock in honor of the titular of the cathedral, St. Patrick, below a black chief that is an allusion to the black fess charged with three plates from the arms of William Penn. The center plate is changed to a crescent from the arms of the Harris family from which Harrisburg gets its name.

The bishops personal arms are impaled with the arms of the See. The red field with the silver bar encircled by a gold ring are all taken from the arms of his native diocese of Allentown, PA. The tree above and the mountain with the double-barred cross below honor his parental heritage from Baden and Slovakia, respectively.

The motto is from John 1:16 and means “from His fullness, grace upon grace”. The artwork is by Paul Sullivan.


New Auxiliary of Bamberg

On March 14 the Most Rev. Herwig Gössl (age 47) will be ordained as Auxiliary Bishop of Bamberg, Germany. His coat of arms (below) employs an interesting modern style in its depiction. The design incorporates symbols of the Transfiguration, the rivers associated with the places the bishop has lived and colors taken from the archdiocesan arms. Beneath the arms of the new bishop I also show the coat of arms of the current archbishop of Bamberg, Ludwig Schick.