Archbishop Wester of Santa Fe

On Thursday, June 4, the Most Rev. John C. Wester, formerly Bishop of Salt Lake City, Utah and prior to that Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco, will be installed as the Twelfth Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico. His personal arms, assumed at the time of his episcopal ordination in San Francisco, are now marshaled to those of the venerable Archdiocese of Santa Fe the arms of which allude to both Spain and to the titular patron of its cathedral church: St. Francis of Assisi.

The artwork for the coat of arms (below) is by Deacon Paul Sullivan.

wester_santa fe arms

2 thoughts on “Archbishop Wester of Santa Fe

  1. Daniel Romero

    After some further research, the original coat of arms for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe were actually rendered entirely in red and gold when they were designed by the heraldist Pierre Chaignon de la Rose in 1920 at the request of Santa Fe’s sixth Archbishop, Albert T. Daeger, OFM. The red and gold colors were adapted from the Spanish flag to recall that New Mexico was a Spanish colony long before becoming part of Mexico in 1821 and subsequently the United States in 1846. Red and gold are also the colors of the New Mexico state flag. The first five Archbishops were French and did not impale their personal arms to the Archdiocesan arms because one did not exist when Santa Fe became a Diocese in 1853 and subsequently an Archdiocese in 1875. Only after 1920 were the coats of arms of the first five Archbishops “retroactively” impaled with the new Archdiocesan coat of arms designed by Chaignon de la Rose. The coats of arms of all twelve Archbishops of Santa Fe are shown in the nave’s clerestory windows of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe.

    When Deacon Paul Sullivan was commissioned to design and render Archbishop Michael Sheehan’s coat of arms for his installation in September 1993 (Sullivan had designed then-Bishop’s Sheehan’s coat of arms when he became the first Bishop of Lubbock in 1983), the red and gold continued to be reflected in the Archdiocesan coat of arms. This was also the case with designs for the succeeding four Archbishops after Daeger which were done by the heraldist William F. J. Ryan. Chaignon de la Rose designed Archbishop Daeger’s coat of arms. In 1998 during the Archdiocese’s Cuarto Centenario celebration (i.e. 400th Anniversary) of the arrival of Catholicism in New Mexico, the Archdiocesan arms were modified from the Chaignon de la Rose design and rendered in red, gold, silver and “proper.” However, Archbishop Sheehan’s coat of arms were never modified when this change happened. So I suspect for Archbishop John Wester’s installation in June 2015, a decision was made to impale his personal coat of arms (which he carried forward from being Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco and Bishop of Salt Lake City) with the Archdiocesan coat of arms now rendered in red, gold, silver and “proper.” In addition, Archbishop Wester’s design is also the first time a pallium has been used between the shield and the ribbon with his episcopal motto.


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