On May 3 the Most Rev. Franklin Schuster (50) was ordained Titular Bishop of Hirina and Auxiliary to the Archbishop of Seattle. The coat of arms he assumed, designed and executed by Renato Poletti, is:
As is my usual custom I will not undertake to critique the artwork.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with dividing a shield per pale with two different tinctures when it is done in this manner with a single charge on each side of the field it has the overall, albeit unintended, effect of making the shield look like impaled arms. Two coats of arms marshaled together on the same shield is the custom for married armigerous persons or, especially in the case of ecclesiastical heraldry, an indication of personal arms and arms of jurisdiction. These are frequently marshaled together to indicate the “marriage” of the armiger with the body over which he presides.
A field of two colors divided per pale would be seen as a single coat of arms if the charges on it were imposed overall and “crossed” the line of impalement illustrating that the two colors are making a single field.
In addition, a silver (white) candle on a gold (yellow) field violates the tincture rule unnecessarily. This rule has many exceptions to it but it may be ignored when there is a good reason. I don’t really see such a reason here. While individual armigers often assign a particular meaning to the use of a specific tincture there is no set and established symbolism behind any color in heraldry. Therefore, their use isn’t a necessity. In the case of this design a blue field could have been used alone with both the silver (white) candle upon it and silver or gold star simply placed in chief without losing the idea behind the design, namely, that it represents both Christmas (the star) and Easter (the candle).
That would have made for a simpler design that was quite effective while, at the same time, avoiding the tincture issues as well as the appearance of impaled arms.
An opportunity missed. The overall coat of arms is pleasant looking and it isn’t really “bad”. It’s just, like so very many other coats of arms we see among bishops today, not as good as it could have, or should have been.