Bishop J. Gregory Kelly

On February 11 the Most Rev. (John) Gregory Kelly was ordained as Auxiliary Bishop of Dallas. The description of the coat of arms (from the diocesan website):

“Bishop Kelly’s arms are based on the Kelly family design where the shield is silver (white) and the charges are black. For difference, and for his deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the chevron is now blue. The chevron is reminiscent of the mountains of Colorado, so dear to His Excellency’s youth and the chevron is charged with two estoiles (special, six pointed stars) that are taken from the mantle of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to remind all of the profound Hispanic influence in Texas, the “Lone Star State“, represented by the single star below the chevron. Above the chevron are a fleur-de-lis and a trefoil (the heraldic representation of a shamrock) to honor the Bishop’s Irish and French-Canadian heritage.”

Once again we see here an example of the increasingly popular (and completely WRONG!) trend of personalizing one of the external ornaments, in this case, with the addition of the triquetra on the episcopal cross (erroneously referred to as a “processional” cross in the description) to represent the Holy Trinity because it was the name of the seminary the bishop attended.

It is necessary to repeat that the only thing subject to having charges particular to the bearer is the shield. The external ornaments may NOT be personalized in a heraldic achievement of this type and all those who advocate such a practice are both incorrect and foolish! The heraldic artist is completely free, in future, to depict this bishop’s coat of arms with an episcopal cross of any shape and manner he might wish. This is what happens when armigers turn to those who do not know what they are doing for the devisal of their coats of arms.


Artwork: P. Sullivan

5 thoughts on “Bishop J. Gregory Kelly

  1. CK Berntsen

    While I fully agree that too personalized external ornaments are not to be recommended, and may be discarded by other artists, I see no fault in having them as such. In this case it is a way, I suspect, of moving some of the, lesser, symbolism out of the, already rather crowded, shield.

  2. Chris Green

    These arms appear to have been designed by a novice. The mullet argent on the argent field is a mistake that would be avoided by anyone who has read the opening chapters of Boutell, and estoiles are indeed meant to have wavy points. I’ll take Father G’s word for the faux pas with the external ornaments.

  3. Z. Walkman

    I’m a Catholic layman and have a question. I’m considering having a lion holding a cros-fleury-staff in my crest. Would it be incorrect for a layman to have that in his crest? I don’t want to use a charge that should be reserved for clergy. Thanks,
    Randy Walker


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