Abbot Augustine Curley of Newark Abbey

On May 12, 2022 the monks of Newark Abbey in Newark, New Jersey elected the Right Reverend Augustine Curley, OSB as the third Abbot of their community. He is still yet to receive the abbatial blessing. The arms he has assumed are shown above.

The armorial achievement, or coat of arms, of Abbot Augustine is composed of the shield with its various charges, the external ornaments of an abbot and the motto. The shield contains the coat of arms of the abbey impaled (combined side-by-side on the same shield) with the personal arms. Such impalement illustrates that the abbot is, in a sense, “married” to the community and exercises jurisdiction over it during his tenure in office. 

In the armorial bearings of Newark Abbey the field is primarily silver (white) with six white and blue wavy lines representing waves below. Out of this sticks a gold (yellow) rocky formation on top of which is the ark, also gold (yellow). This is a representation of the ark and the rock upon which the ark came to rest after the great flood of Noah’s time surrounded by receding waters of the flood. Above the ark is a stylized rainbow in blue and gold (yellow) representing the the new beginning of Newark Abbey after the tumultuous period preceding its re-elevation to Abbatial status. 

The chief (upper third) of the shield is a field of the blue and silver (white) elongated diamond-shaped fusils in a diagonal pattern taken from the Bavarian royal arms. Newark Abbey traces its monastic origins back through St. Mary’s Abbey which was a daughter house of St. Vincent Archabbey in Pennsylvania. St. Vincent was founded by Boniface Wimmer, a monk of St. Michael’s Abbey in Metten, Bavaria. 

The personal armorial bearings which Abbot Augustine has assumed recall his Irish heritage, his patron saint and his Benedictine life. The green field with a gold (yellow) harp is a symbol of his Irish ethnic background as well as an allusion to the singing of the psalms, composed by King David, which are traditionally accompanied on the harp. This is the principal work of a Benedictine monk —the ora in “Ora et Labora”— as it were. The upper portion of the shield is divided using a line representing trefoils, more commonly known as shamrocks, a further symbol of Ireland and, in particular, the Irish rebels Abbot Augustine counts among his ancestors. Those facing upward are three in number as an oblique reference to the fact that Abbot Augustine is the third Abbot of Newark Abbey. On the upper portion of the shield is a single red heart. The heart is used as a symbol of St. Augustine, the abbot’s monastic patron saint but also represents the exhortation to “Listen…inclining the ear of one’s heart” that makes up part of the Prologue of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict.

The shield is ensigned with the black pilgrim’s hat, called a galero, used in heraldry for clerics in place of the traditional helmet, mantling and crest. The hat has black cords terminating in twelve black tassels. Behind the shield and extending above and below it is a gold (yellow) abbot’s crozier with the sudarium (veil) attached. This veil was used in former times to protect the shaft of the crozier from dirt and perspiration before the time when abbots would have worn liturgical gloves. While the veil is no longer used it remains as a heraldic emblem to distinguish the crozier of an abbot. These are the ornaments proper to a prelate with the rank of abbot according to the Instruction of the Holy See, “Ut Sive” of March 1969.

On a scroll below the shield we see Abbot Augustine’s chosen motto, “Blessed Be The Name of The Lord” which is from the Book of Job.

I was pleased and privileged to design his personal arms and marshal them to those of the Abbey.

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