Archbishops of Washington, DC

Here are the armorial bearings of the Archbishops of Washington, DC almost all of whom have been elevated to Cardinal with the notable exception of the first one, Archbishop Michael Curley who was also the Archbishop of Baltimore. At first the Archdiocese of Washington was part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Later, a dual archdiocese of Baltimore-Washington was created with Curley leading it. Eventually, Washington became a separate archdiocese but Curley was still appointed its archbishop making him, simultaneously, the archbishop of the oldest American diocese (Baltimore) and the newest at that time (Washington). A short time later Washington, DC received its own residential archbishop with the appointment of Patrick O’Boyle.

There is no coat of arms for Theodore McCarrick who is no longer a cardinal or even a cleric. A blank shield is used in place of his armorial bearings but his time in Washington in still noted because under Mr. McCarrick’s tenure the armorial bearings of the archdiocese were changed and that change, despite McCarrick’s disgrace, has been employed by his two successors as well. One can only hope that at some point in the future the original coat of arms of the archdiocese will be adopted again.

Archbishop Michael Curley (the archdiocesan arms hadn’t been adopted yet and Curley impaled his arms with those of Baltimore)
Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle
William Cardinal Baum
James Cardinal Hickey
Archdiocesan arms changed by Mr. Theodore McCarrick
Donald Cardinal Wuerl
Cardinal-Designate Wilton Gregory

7 thoughts on “Archbishops of Washington, DC

  1. Joseph D Vo

    The reason Mr. McCarrick had the original arms changed (from the original cross of chain links linked to a ring argent which were supposed to represent Washington D.C. as the capital which held the union together to the cross bottony over all quarterly or and argent similar to those on the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Baltimore) was because chains could be interpreted as a symbol of racism and oppression to the many African-American Catholics in the Archdiocese(Washington D.C. being a center of African-American Catholicism). As a result of this reason, it’s unlikely that Cardinal-designate Gregory or any future archbishops may change the Archdiocesan arms.

    1. guyselvester Post author

      I am aware of why he made the change as I know the person who advised him on it. But, the reason he used to justify it is a stupid one. In addition, because it was done by him and there has been an effort to minimize his legacy in the archdiocese (for example, removing his coat of arms from the cathedral) it is both conceivable and advisable to return to the original archdiocesan coat of arms.

      1. Joseph D Vo

        Does anyone know the meaning behind Cardinal Baum’s coat of arms? I know the meaning of the arms of the other Archbishops of Washington(including the arms that Mr. McCarrick held when he was a cleric and cardinal)but I can’t seem to find an explanation for Cardinal Baum’s armorial bearings.

    1. guyselvester Post author

      Since his arms were assumed as a bishop it is an arguable point to say he relinquished them when he was laicized. But, even if that weren’t the case a coat of arms is something for which an individual still has to be deserving. His behavior has rendered him a disgraced person and undeserving of honors like a coat of arms. So, I refuse to display a coat of arms for him.

  2. Stephen v.B.

    Quite right to carry out a ‘damnatio memoriae’ of some sort. It is, however, somewhat unfortunate – to say the least – that the coat of arms of the current Camerlengo explicitly alludes to that of Mr. McCarrick, who was his patron and consecrator. If this particular Cardinal is still in office by the time of the next conclave, that armorial achievement will be seen on all Vatican coins struck during the sede vacante period. I know one isn’t supposed to alter one’s arms. However …


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