On July 13 the Most Rev. William Koenig (64) a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, NY will be ordained a bishop and installed as the 10th Bishop of Wilmington, Delaware. The coat of arms he has chosen to assume is illustrated below impaled with those of the See of Wilmington.
The arms of the See are based on those of the Lords De La Warr one of whom, Thomas West, was Governor of Virginia and for whom the state and river are named. The crosses allude to the arms of the Lords Baltimore, proprietors of Maryland because the diocese covers all of Delaware and the eastern Shore portions of Maryland. The gold lion borrows from the arms of Bl. Pius IX who erected the See.
While the new bishop’s name would lend itself easily to symbols of St. William the Abbot and a royal crown (the name Koenig means “king”) he has, somewhat disappointingly, decided to use arms that allude to various aspects of his priestly career. These are the typical “CV arms” against which I am always warning. American bishops are fixated on their coats of arms “telling the story” of their lives rather than simply doing what coats of arms are supposed to do: identify.
These arms aren’t horrible. They are merely disappointing. They could have been SO much better.
Bishop Koenig’s arms are not only disappointing but they are horribly rendered – especially the Wilmington diocesan arms. Wilmington’s arms were created by one Pierre de Chaignon LaRose [1871-1940] who was a sometime Harvard English teacher, fervent Catholic, and a heraldist and artist to boot.
In 1926, LaRose designed the arms of the Wilmington Diocese which were based, as you note, upon those of the Lords de la Warr [pronounced like the State] : “Gules, a lion rampant Or on a semé of cross-crosslets botonny fitchy Argent”. They are arguably one of the most beautiful diocesan arms in the world. LaRose also designed the coats of arms for many Catholic prelates, dioceses, and monasteries from 1900 until his death in 1940, and additionally all of the Harvard graduate schools as well as the coats of arms of Princeton, Yale, Radcliffe, and Rice.
The rendering of Bishop Koenig’s arms impaled with those of the Diocese is little better than “clipboard art”. La Rose would be turning over in his grave.
I’m generally not that interested in criticizing the artwork. My interest is in the blazon not the emblazon. A decent artist can always improve on a bad rendering but a poor design in the first place remains a poor design no matter what.
You are right as a matter of general principle. The trouble here is a decent artist will not have any opportunity to do so. Those, such as I, who live in the Diocese of Wilmington are going to be stuck looking at this rendition on every, letterhead, program, announcement, and internet message for the next decade!