The Most Rev. Peter L. Smith will be ordained auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Portland in Oregon on April 29 by Archbishop Alexander Sample. The new bishop is a priest of that archdiocese. The shield is shaped like that of a Zulu warrior because the bishop was born in the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The flame represents the Holy Spirit, the upraised hands prayer and worship, the gold field stands for devotion to Christ. The jagged division line represents several mountain ranges important to the bearer and the star Our Lady as well as the star of Bethlehem.
The rose on the episcopal cross supposedly stands for Portland, “the rose city”. The designer of this coat of arms, James Noonan, repeatedly likes to design distinctive external ornaments that are particular to each coat of arms which is really heraldically unsupportable. The blazon can only specify that which is on the shield, not the external ornaments.
Design: James Noonan
Artwork: Linda Nicholson
The problem of Noonan in designing distinctive external ornaments is not only special to him; it is a worldwide spread problem in church heraldry. Not many bishops, and some heraldists, seem to know that an episcopal cross behind the shield says nothing but “I am a (arch)bishop”. When a bishop asked me “to draw five red jewels in the episcopal cross for the five wounds or Christ”, I tell him that he can get the drawing so, but without this explanation.
But the entire arrangement of the crest of bishop Smith is a relief comparing in what I saw in new bishops-crests last months.