Monthly Archives: December 2014

“Christmas” Heraldry

Each year at this time I always seem to get involved in a conversation with at least one other heraldry enthusiast about coats of arms associated with Christmas or the Christmas season. Here are a few tidbits I offer for your amusement. (Keep in mind the ancient custom of attributed arms, that is, coats of arms attributed to people who were not necessarily armigerous themselves, especially if they lived prior to the advent of heraldry and/or coats of arms devised for and attributed to people who may or may not be fictitious!)

Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas)

Here is a a coat of arms recently devised by a friend for St. Nicholas


Here is another said to be of “Father Christmas”


The Three Wise Men (or Kings)

The arms attributed to Kaspar, Balthasaar and Melchior (depicted beautifully by the Italian heraldic artist, Marco Foppoli)


The Blessed Virgin Mary

A coat of arms attributed to the Mother of Jesus, Mary


Jesus (you know…the One whose birthday we’re celebrating?)

This is just one of many different attributed arms for Jesus, the Christ depicting the implements of His passion.

Arms of Christ

The Holy Family

A wonderful Christmas scene showing all the principal armigerous figures of the story of the Nativity with their corresponding attributed arms. (by daSilva)


Bishop Mark Edwards, OMI

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On December 17 Mark Stuart edwards, OMI will be ordained (along with Terence Curtin) as auxiliary bishop of Melbourne, Australia. Bishop Edwards is also the Titular Bishop of Garba.

His newly assumed arms (above) reflect his baptismal patron, St. Mark, as well as the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Religious community to which he belongs. In addition, Our Lady and Australia are alluded to on the chief.

These arms were designed by me and Mr. Richard d’Apice of the Australian Heraldry Society and emblazoned by Sandy Turnbull also of the Australian Heraldry Society.

Bishop Comensoli of Broken Bay, Australia

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The Broken Bay diocesan Arms display a lighthouse spreading the light of the gospel over the diocese. The detail echoes the detail of the Barrenjoey lighthouse which unites the two main land masses that comprise the regions of the diocese.

The arms and motto which Bishop Comensoli adopted at the time he was named Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney in 2011 are of a personal character and are blazoned: Azure, on a Latin cross inverted Or four seven-pointed mullets (or Commonwealth stars) Gules, in the first quarter a lion’s head erased Argent crined and langued Or and in the second a unicorn’s head erased Argent crined and armed Or respectant.

In layman’s terms, the arms may be described as: On a blue field, a gold cross inverted with a red seven-pointed (or Commonwealth) star at each extremity, in the upper left quarter, a silver lion’s head erased at the neck with gold mane and tongue and in the upper right quarter a silver unicorn’s head erased at the neck with gold mane and horn. The motto ‘Praedicamus Christum Crucifixum’ is a quotation from the Apostle Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians (1Cor1.23), and can be translated as ‘We preach Christ crucified’.

The inverted Latin Cross symbolises the Bishop’s nominal patron, the Apostle Peter and the stars reflect the Southern Cross, which shines out over the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit. The lion and the unicorn respectively symbolise the mind and the heart of love. The meaning of these symbols, while of medieval provenance, is especially associated with the seminal work on Christian love by the English Jesuit, Martin C D’Arcy SJ, “The Mind and Heart of Love: Lion and Unicorn: A Study in Eros and Agape”. Bishop Comensoli will be installed as the Third Bishop of Broken Bay on Dec. 12.

The personal arms were designed by me and Mr. Richard d’Apice of the Australian Heraldry Society and originally emblazoned as well as marshaled with the arms of the diocese and emblazoned again by Mr. Sandy Turnbull also of the Australian Heraldry Society.

Commandant Gets The Boot

It has been revealed that, due to personality clashes and the pope’s opinion of too much militarism, the Commandant of the Papal Swiss Guard, Daniel Anrig, has been asked by Pope Francis to step down at the end of January. Appointed by Benedict XVI Anrig has served in his position since 2008. I’m not exactly sure how the head of a military corps is supposed to act other than militarily but there is a lot happening in the Vatican these days that no one seems to be able to explain, at least not easily. Anrig’s coat of arms as Commandant of the Papal Swiss Guard is below. It employs the type of charge known as a house marking that is characteristic of Swiss heraldry. The arms of the Commandant is always depicted at the center point of the flag of the Swiss guard.