Monk & Priest

Fr. Pachomius Meade, OSB a monk and priest of Conception Abbey in Missouri is an artist by avocation. He is very interested in heraldry as well and has had occasion to design some very nice coats of arms. But, up until now, he had not adopted armorial bearings for himself. With my encouragement he eventually set about doing so and, in my opinion, took the right path which was to take his time and go through many draft ideas. He has finally settled on a design which I also told him was a striking and good one.

The explanation of the charges chosen for this design are in his own words:

The top third of the shield (chief) is made up of two charges (one repeated). It depicts a royal crown between two birds’ claws erased. The talons are designed so as to be obviously those of falcons. Heraldry often places leather straps (jess) and bells on falcon legs. I took the artistic license to show the feathers around the talon in a diagonal conical form, as several species of falcons display around their legs. The talons plus the crown together are a rebus for my religious name Pachomius, which in the Coptic language means “king’s falcon.” These charges on a chief make them, therefore, canting arms, which is to say the arms “speak” the name of the armiger. Additionally, the base of the chief – which is usually a straight line – is enarched, a very simple variation on the line. I liked the idea of an elegant variant such as this.  Other than the stylistic choice, on a personal level I like that it is Romanesque, which is the style of my abbey’s basilica and is a subtle nod to the structure of a church.  

The lower two thirds of the shield depict smaller white shields (escutcheons) on a green field. The repeated charge spread evenly on a field in heraldry is called semy or semé, meaning “seeded.” This is a feature of heraldry that I particularly love and what was lacking in some of my original ideas for a coat of arms. The charge of a white shield without a charge of its own is a traditional symbol for a painter or heraldist. Probably my most obvious talent since I was a child has been art and it seemed like a no-brainer to have this charge. Again, there’s nothing more to it than that, but my own theological reflection on this part of the shield can also be that monastic life is called a white martyrdom – to distinguish from red martyrdom – and the spiritual combat of this charism. My surname is Meade, which is a meadow, and a green field makes sense (although, I believe my last name is really an Anglicized Gaelic word that had a completely unrelated definition).”  

I think he has come up with a clear bold design. The symbolism of the charges makes sense. He kept the overall design somewhat simple. The choice of tinctures is not only good from the point of view of symbolism they are aesthetically pleasing. The priest’s galero above the shield symbolizes his priesthood while the chaplet (rosary) encircling the shield is the accepted heraldic external ornament indicative of the armiger being a Consecrated Religious, in this case, a professed monk.

I say, “Well done!”. Incidentally, the artwork is by Fr. Pachomius as well.

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