New Auxiliary of Rome

On November 9, 2015 His Holiness, Pope Francis ordained the Most Reverend Angelo De Donatis as Auxiliary Bishop of Rome. His somewhat disappointing coat of arms can be seen below.


4 thoughts on “New Auxiliary of Rome

  1. George Trosper

    Well, no, it’s not in the best high medieval style. However, depressingly many of my fellow members in the Society for Creative Anachronism propose, and some even settle on, just this arrangement, viz., “Per bend (sinister) A & B, a whatsit C and a whozit D” (where the capital letters represent tinctures). And we in the SCA are supposed to be aping medieval style, which is not actually Bishop de Donatis’s responsibility!

    So I wouldn’t call it “bad heraldry”, particularly if the bishop likes it … more an opportunity missed for better heraldry.

    1. guyselvester Post author

      Well, I’m afraid it is indeed bad heraldry. While heraldry was developed and flourished in the medieval period the ideal is no longer necessarily “high medieval style” as you suggest. Perhaps people in organizations like the SCA and other fantasy groups are striving for that but it is not the purpose of heraldry in the modern world to evoke the Middle Ages as you have acknowledged when you say it’s not the bishop’s responsibility.

      Ecclesiastical heraldry has evolved on its own over the centuries and is a living science and art form. It doesn’t seek to recreate anything, least of all medieval style.

      This is most definitely bad heraldry because it is simply a poor composition. The charges could have been arranged better. (Note: I am not commenting on the artwork but rather the design).

      Heraldry is not some arcane art form that in its “best” examples evokes a bygone era. There are accepted principles for good heraldic design and this one falls short of them. “It could be worse” just isn’t good enough. It should be better. There are numerous people knowledgeable in the science and art of heraldry with whom the bishop could have consulted. It’s a shame he didn’t.

      1. Hans van Heijningen

        I don’t fully understand the disapppointment. The lion is the exact San Marco lion of Venice and than the he has a gospel in his claws. The pomegranate is – following the explanation- for Exodus 39, 24-26. The argent is here ‘being transparant’.
        What is against the arrangement of the charges? I can imagine that the designer (Renato Poletti?) first thought of a chief, but that he saw too much resemblance with the coats of arms of the patriachs of Venice. He might have searched then for the best possible arrangement.
        Up to me “per bend sinister” gives a nice arrangement and balance in the total appearance.

        Heraldry knows much freedom in compositions. As long we avoid landscapes, statues of saints, overcrowding etc. then much is possible.

      2. guyselvester Post author

        For me, the disappointment lies in the use of a field divided per bend. I think it makes a weak composition. The lion could have been the main charge with a chief that had three pomegranates on it and still avoided looking too closely like a Venetian coat of arms. While many would say that three pomegranates would be “busier” than the single one I would disagree. I have no issue with what charges he chose. Rather, it is their weak composition I find disappointing.

        In this I am showing the strong influence of English heraldry on both my training and my personal taste. I don’t mind a field divided per bend when that is all there is: a single ordinary (like the arms of several Swiss Cantons) but when the design will also include charges on the field (especially two different charges) I think it’s a particularly weak looking design as well as aesthetically unpleasant due to the asymmetrical composition.

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