Bishop Barres Appointed to Rockville Centre, NY

On December 9 it was announced that Pope Francis appointed the Most Rev. John O. Barres, since 2009 the Fourth Bishop of Allentown, PA, as the Fifth Bishop of Rockville Centre, NY. (the diocese on Long Island in which I was born and raised)

His coat of arms will be:

The personal arms depict red and silver bars as a canting device recalling the Bishop’s family surname “Barres.” The Bishop’s immigrant ancestor, Jacob Barres came from Prussia and first settled in Lehigh County in 1852.

The blue eagle with the halo is the symbol of St. John the Evangelist, honoring the Bishop’s baptismal name patron. The cross keys symbolically express the Bishop’s dedication and fidelity to the See of Peter and to the Pope. The dolphin is taken from the arms of St. John Fisher, and the rose represents St. Thomas More, particularly his chain of office as Lord Chancellor of England. Pope John Paul II, by motu proprio in 2000, declared Saint Thomas More the Patron of Statesmen, Politicians, and Lawyers. Both of these saints, one a prelate and one a layman, were martyrs for the Faith and remained loyal to the Church and the Holy See. Their symbols are depicted in red to indicate their martyrdom. The axe represents President Abraham Lincoln of whom the Bishop is a great admirer.
They are impaled with the arms of the See of Rockville Centre adopted in 1957. These arms are based on the history of Long Island and the etymology of the name Rockville Centre. The colors of the field within the bordure, gold and blue, appears on the coat of arms of King William III of the House of Nassau and on the arms which the county of Suffolk in England has used at times, these arms being those of Ipswich. Although there are more than 12 names for Long Island, the name generally preferred by the Indians of the mainland was Seawanhacky or “Island of Shells.” The scallop shell is also truly heraldic, and a symbol which is often used to signify the flowing of water in the Sacrament of Baptism.

The wavy silver bordure is the heraldic equivalent of water and surrounding, as it does, the other charges, signifies the insular nature of the diocese. The lamb’s head is the symbol of St. Agnes, virgin and martyr, the titular of the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. St. Agnes has been represented with a lamb, the symbol of her virginal innocence, since the Middle Ages.

The black roundel in the center of the shield with the three stones or rocks affords canting arms for Rockville Centre. The black roundel is in the exact center of the shield. The three rocks or stones are derived from the coat of arms of Pope Pius XII, who established the new Diocese of Rockville Centre in April, 1957. The roundel is tinctured in black to represent the seventeenth century name of Brooklyn, from the diocese from which the See of Rockville Centre was separated. The black tincture represents the marshes, which recalled to the Dutch their homeland in Breuckelen in the Province of Utrecht. The Dutch who first settled Brooklyn called it “Breuck-Landt’” meaning “broken land,’ or “marshland,” inasmuch as a great deal of the land was broken up by patches of water.

Barres will be installed in Rockville Centre on January 31, 2017.

2 thoughts on “Bishop Barres Appointed to Rockville Centre, NY

  1. Hans van Heijningen

    Due to the practice that bishops since about 2000 more or less change their personal halves of the shield it was tricky to predict this arms already in december 2016. But this c.o.a. seems though to be the correct one.
    However there is a difficulty:
    The description BARRES give barry of six gueules-argent but the drawing gives SEVEN pieces, in fact ‘Gueules three bars argent”.
    Here must be an error.

    Kindly greeting,

    1. guyselvester Post author

      If you are referring to the artistic depiction of the bishop’s arms that has been published by the diocese (not pictured on my blog) I don’t know who prepared that. I will say that you are assuming that whomever prepared the artwork is familiar with heraldry enough to read and understand a blazon (or to care). That may not be the case.


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