Bishop Jenik


On August 4, 2014 Cardinal Dolan of New York ordained three Auxiliary Bishops for the Archdiocese. They are the Most Revs. Peter Byrne, John O’Hara and John Jenik. While I have not yet seen the coats of arms assumed by all three I did come across the interesting and distinctive coat of arms assumed by Bishop Jenik. He designed the coat of arms himself and I am not sure of the symbolism behind the design. Many might see this as strange because it does not follow the usual “lucky charms” notion of heraldry with an overloaded shield filled with charges meant to be a pictorial CV of the bearer. Good for him! Such heraldry is atrocious and all too common among the American Catholic hierarchy.

Rather, Bishop Jenik’s coat of arms is very simple. This is one of the earmarks of good heraldry. The use of black and white may make it stark but not knowing the meaning of the design there may very well be a good reason for the choice of these colors. In addition, since heraldry is, at its heart, about identification and nothing else, the design is clear to see and easily identifiable. Again, these are attributes of good heraldry. It reminds me of some of the most ancient heraldic designs that present clear images and use as few colors as possible.

I say hats off to Bishop Jenik for an excellent and unique design for his coat of arms!

(Artwork by Paul Sullivan)

5 thoughts on “Bishop Jenik

  1. Hans van Heijningen

    And now the other two crests of the new auxialiarians in New York. It is a pity that the archdiocese NY don’t publish the crest of their auxialiarians. I see forward espacially to O’Hara: what has been done with the wonderful family-crest O’Hara: vert, on a pale enflamed or a lion sable: addition of one symbol on the pale or f.i. on a red chief a figure. But Jenik’s result promises more …………………….
    There is a mission to do in the USA in pubishing bishops crests on the diocesan webs so that every heraldist ad historian can use these for their studies. Some dioceseshave good results; others did ‘nt do anything to spread the knowledge on their bishops crests.

  2. Irene

    The August 7, 2014, issue of Catholic New York explains the coat of arms: “…Throughout his priestly ministry, Bishop Jenik has served the homeless and the disadvantaged of the Archdiocese of New York, especially in the Bronx. For this reason His Excellency has chosen a motto indicative of his ministry when he calls everyone to “Defend the Poor and Needy”. Carrying upon that theme, the Bishop’s personal arms are exceptionally unusual and equally as exceptionally profound. For the shield is covered with plates,empty plates, and within the design is a cross where the coloration of the field and the plates is reversed (counterchanged) which, as the design is viewed, it is “the cross amid a whole load of nothing”; that which the poor and needy have and that which The Church is to bring to them for in reality Christ is everything.”

  3. TRossi

    I see it differently.
    Rather than empty plates, I see hosts. Crossed by chalices.
    And in the use of black and white I see the two worlds of our concern: earth and heaven.


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