Author Archives: guyselvester

Bishop Bonnar of Youngstown

On January 12th, the Most Rev. David Bonnar (58) a priest of Pittsburgh will be ordained a bishop and installed as the 6th Bishop of Youngstown, Ohio. The coat of arms he is assuming is:

As per the diocesan website the explanation of his personal arms, impaled with those of the See are: “The chequy blue and silver fess appears in the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s coat of arms representing his diocese of origin.  The seven point blue star recalls the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom Bishop Bonnar entrusts his new pastoral ministry.  The pomegranate represents the motto of the Bishop that all the grains of this fruit are united in an only body, the mystical body of the Church.  The field of gold, the first among the noble metals, symbolizes the first of the virtues – the faith – which makes all believe in the salvation given by the Lord.”

The combinations of tinctures are pleasing. The overall design is simple: a complex ordinary with something above and something below, rather like the arms of the See as well. The charges are relatively clear even when reduced.

Lieutenant of the Order of Malta

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, more commonly known as the Order of Malta, is currently in the charge not of a Prince and Grand Master but of a Lieutenant of the Grand Master, elected by the Council Complete of State. He presides over the Sovereign Council of the Order directing the Order’s governance during his tenure in office. This situation is not quite as unusual as it may first appear to be. In the last 100 years there have been five occasions when the Order did not elect a Prince and Grand Master, but was governed by a Lieutenant of the Grand Master. None of them went on to be elected Prince and Grand Master with the exception of Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto. Also, I do not take notice here of the four men who served as Lieutenant ad interim after the death of and before the election of a Grand Master.

Fra’ Pio Franchi De’ Cavalieri (1929-1931 during the illness of Grand Master Thun und Hohenstein)

Fra’ Antoine Hercolani Fava Simonetti (1951-1955) *

Fra’ Ernesto Paternò Castello di Carcaci (1955-1962)

Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto (2017-2018)

Fra’ Marco Luzzago who is presently the Lieutenant of the Grand Master elected in 2020.

*NOTE: Hercolani Fava Simonetti served as the Lieutenant to the Grand Magistry and the others had the title Lieutenant of the Grand Master.

Archbishop Farrell of Dublin

On December 29, 2020 His Holiness Pope Francis appointed the Most Rev. Dermot Farrell (66), a priest of the Diocese of Meath and since 2018 Bishop of Ossory, Ireland to be the 51st Metropolitan Archbishop of Dublin. He succeeds Abp. Diarmuid Martin.

He had already assumed a coat of arms as Bishop of Ossory. The image below is not official but was a cut and paste job by me to see what his arms as archbishop will look like. In Ireland the archbishops of Armagh (who is the Primate of All Ireland) and of Dublin (who is the Primate of Ireland) use arms of the See that appear identical because this stems from a time when all archbishops tended to use arms depicting a pall (pallium) and a cross as symbols of being an archbishop. The archiepiscopal insignia then later became associated with certain metropolitical & archiepiscopal sees and it remains so to this day, including some (like the Church of Ireland Diocese of Dublin, or the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury) where it seems particularly incongruous. This is because the pallium is worn by Roman Catholic Metropolitan Archbishops as a symbol of sharing in the ministry of the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) and, as such, they receive it from him as a sign of their office.

Below we see what Archbishop Farrell’s coat of arms may well look like (or something close to this). I note that his predecessor, App. Martin, did not use a coat of arms.

Thomas Becket

St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was assassinated by nobles who served King Henry II of England in 1170. They entered the cathedral and killed him. His conflict with the king centered around the Constitutions of Clarendon, a series of laws Henry wished to impose to check the increase in power the Church gained under the rather chaotic reign of his predecessor King Stephan. Becket opposed these laws as the state over reaching into the internal affairs of the Church. Their conflict became more heated until Henry supposedly (though not definitely) was to have said to his barons, “Will no one rid me of this meddling clerk?”. It’s doubtful he actually said that and if he did it certainly would have been in French since Henry II didn’t speak English. This was taken to mean he desired to see Becket gone, so they went to the cathedral on December 29th and killed him.

This all happened before the advent of systematized heraldry as we know it. becket certainly did not have a coat of arms. But, according to the long-standing traditional custom of attributing coats of arms to great persons after the fact a coat of arms was devised for him. It appears in many places erroneously as the coat of arms of St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury. While it certainly was not his actual armorial bearings it is, nevertheless, a very handsome achievement especially impaled with those of the See of Canterbury.

Bishop Byrne of Springfield, MA

On December 14 the Most Rev. William Draper Byrne (56) a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC will be ordained a bishop and installed as the Tenth Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts. His personal coat of arms impaled with those of the See of Springfield (below) depicts a paschal candle, a symbol of the Light of Christ to the world and also of sacrifice (the candle is consumed as it burns, which also makes a slight pun on the Bishop’s name). The crescent is taken from the arms of the See of Washington, DC and also from those of his seminary, the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

The bishop designed his own arms in consultation with another priest of Washington, DC and had them depicted by an artist who copied the style of the late Anthony W.C. Phelps of Cleveland, Ohio. That style became popular in Washington when it was used by Cardinal Hickey (who had previously been Bishop of Cleveland) and has been copied since by a number of bishops who have come from the Archdiocese of Washington. Mr. Phelps died in 2005.

A Priest Among the Cardinals

On November 28, 2020 Pope Francis created new cardinals. Among them was Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap (86) who, for the past forty years, has served as the Preacher of the Pontifical Household. Given his advanced age Cardinal Cantalamessa requested to be dispensed from the requirement of receiving episcopal ordination prior to receiving his red hat. While it is not unprecedented it is still rather rare for a Cardinal of the Roman Church not to be a bishop as well. (Contrary to an erroneous idea that never seems to die there were no “lay cardinals” in the Church. All the cardinals who were members of the College of Cardinals previously but had not received ordination were, nevertheless, tonsured clerics and, therefore, NOT members of the laity).

Following the correct customs which are sometimes ignored by the foolish or the ignorant (see: the coat of arms of the late Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ), Cardinal Cantalamessa ensigns his coat of arms with the scarlet cardinal’s galero but does not make use of the episcopal cross behind the shield because he lacks the episcopal character. As a cardinal, he may make use of pontifical insignia when celebrating Mass solemnly (the mitre, the ring and the crozier) and he may wear a pectoral cross. He also has the option of wearing scarlet cardinal’s robes or his own Religious Habit. It was interesting to note that at the Public Consistory at which he was created a cardinal he wore his habit with a surplice and did not wear the scarlet choir dress of a cardinal.

Ad Multos Annos!

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

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

On October 24 it was announced that the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem for the last four years, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, the former Custos of the Holy Land had been named by the Pope as the Patriarch of Jerusalem for the Latins. Accordingly, His Beatitude’s armorial bearings were updated to include another row of green tassels for a total of thirty tassels suspended from the galero. This rendering, as also the original rendering, was done by Marco Foppoli.

Bishop Grob

On November 13 the Most Rev. Jeffrey S. Grob (59) a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago will be ordained as the Titular Bishop of Abora and Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. The armorial bearings he is assuming are:

The armorial bearings of Bishop Grob symbolize his origins, his personal devotion and the place in which he has spent his ministry as a priest. The field is Azure and the main charge is a large gold (yellow) plow blade facing the viewer. This not only alludes to the ministry of spreading the Gospel as symbolized by plowing a field to prepare for seed to be sown but is an allusion to the bishop’s early life growing up on a Wisconsin dairy farm.

Above the plow blade are a silver (white) crescent, a symbol of Our Lady under her title of the Immaculate Conception which is the patronal feast of the USA. The two silver (white) fleur-de-lis represent several things. First, they are a symbol of St. Joseph to whom the bishop has a special devotion as a kind of patron saint because he was born on the Solemnity of St. Joseph (March 19). The fleur-de-lis is a stylized version of the lily and St. Joseph is often depicted holding a staff from which lilies are blossoming. Second, they allude to St. John XXIII who used them in his own coat of arms. The bishop has a devotion to this great 20th Century saint. Finally, there are two fleur-de-lis in the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Chicago where the bishop has served as a priest and will now serve as a bishop.

The motto below the shield is “Jesus The Vine”

It was a great privilege for me to design Bishop Grob’s coat of arms in consultation with him and to emblazon it.