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”.

4 thoughts on “Bishop Baldacchino

  1. rdapice


    Thank you a thousand times for saving Australia from this I don’t t care that a “palm tree upon which a lobster rests”, was a symbol well-known to the early Church. It must be intelligible to today’s Catholics but resembles nothing more than a sign for an eat-all-you-can seafood restaurant. The rest is just as bad. The Bishop must clearly take the blame for this one but there must be a “designer” or artist to whom the rest of the blame can be sheeted home. He/she should be forever linked with this mess. Regards, Richard d’Apice

  2. Hans van Heijningen

    Bad heraldry, the worst that can be …..! When you want to see a correct and simple application of ‘baptismal font’: see the crest of Mgr. Ansgar Puff, since 2013 auxiliarian bishop of Köln:
    “Per fess, 1) the archdiocesan crest = a cross sable on argent, 2) the baptismal font in the most heraldic simple way. No CV, but one symbol, that is considered by the bearer as (one of) his most imporant ‘personal’ symbols.
    Besides I note that in the last years that, in the USA, the designs for auxiliarian bishops are in average worse than those for residing bishops.

  3. Rafael Cardona

    Who am I to judge? If it is good enough for this Bishop, it is good enough for me. You can compare this shield design to others, however, to me it is important that it be ‘personal’ and that defines the Bishop’s ‘identity’… how boring/lame it would be if all the designs be the same, or similar… I like the imagery of the lobster on the palm and welcome the subtle change… perhaps this is a sign that this Bishop won’t be the same as bishops in the past… i.e. laden with scandals… as long as he is here to serve/work for the people, he can have a carnival in his shield… I welcome him!

    1. guyselvester Post author

      Mr. Cardona you are certainly entitled to your opinion but you are also clearly ignorant of heraldry in the extreme. The “who cares as long as he likes it” attitude you display is offensive and has no place in a serious discussion of heraldry. Your mention of scandals is out of place and betrays an agenda other than an interest in heraldry. So, why are you visiting a blog like this one? Saying this horrible coat of arms may betoken what kind of bishop he will be is like asserting that you can tell whether or not someone will make a good husband based on what kind of shirt he wears.


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