Category Archives: Archbishops

Rembert Weakland, OSB 1927-2022

On August 22 the Most Rev. Rembert (George) Weakland, OSB (95) passed away in Milwaukee. He had been a monk and Archabbot at St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania serving as Coadjutor Archabbot cum plena jure from 1963-1967, Abbot-Primate of the Benedictine Confederation, 1967-1977 and Archbishop of Milwaukee from 1977 until 2002. His final years were marred by scandals and revelations of misconduct.

His armorial bearings were the same as an Archabbot and Abbot-Primate as well as during his tenure as Archbishop. A very simple design using a red field and stylized tongues of fire represents the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

Two for One

On June 20 the Most Rev. Mark A, O’Toole (59) a priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster and formerly the Bishop of Plymouth was installed as the 10th Metropolitan Archbishop of Cardiff in Wales. On June 23 this same prelate was also installed as the Bishop of Menevia in Wales. The two dioceses remain separate for the present but are joined in a personal union through having a single bishop.

The arms he has now assumed since his move to Wales, which are different from those he bore as Bishop of Plymouth incorporate the pall (pallium) as a charge on the shield rather than the less-than-ideal attempt to include it in the achievement as an external ornament. The latter has become popular in recent years but is really a poor design decision that never quite works.

For reasons I do not know the Archbishop has chosen not to impale his personal arms with those of the Sees. Perhaps it is because there are two different Sees. Quartering would have solved that issue, however.

Archbishop of Paris

On May 23 the Most Rev. Laurent Ulrich (70) a priest of Dijon, former Archbishop of Chambéry, former Archbishop (ad personam) of Lille was installed as Archbishop of Paris.

His coat of arms, with a very simple design, is remarkable for the mere fact that these days very few French bishops even bear a coat of arms, let alone a good one!

I am also one of those purists who agrees with the assessment of the late Archbishop Bruno Heim that the pallium as an external ornament is unnecessary and is far too often ill-placed in the achievement, as is the case here.

Archbishop Fabre of Louisville

On March 30 the Most Rev. Shelton Fabre (58), a priest of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and formerly Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana was installed as the 12th Archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky.

His armorial bearings (below) depict the arms of the See impaled with his personal coat of arms assumed at the time that he became Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans in 2006. I don’t much care for the arms of the See of Louisville but that’s just tough luck for me. There is nothing wrong with them. Rather it’s a matter of personal taste. The same is true for the Archbishop’s personal arms: I don’t happen to care for them but that’s just my tough luck. Again, no egregious heraldic errors. I do think it is a shame that both fields are azure as there is little contrast between the two impalements but that’s life.

Benvenuto, Archbishop Renna!

The Most Rev. Luigi Renna (56) originally a priest of Andria, Italy and from 2016 until now Bishop of Cerignola-Ascoli Satriano, Italy will be translated and promoted to Metropolitan Archbishop of Catania and installed in that see on February 19, 2022.

The archbishop’s coat of arms is:

The field of silver stands for transparency of action. The crown of thorns recalls the relic of the holy Thorn kept in the cathedral at Andria. Rising from the crown is a branch terminating in a pomegranate symbolizing charity and, because of the tightly packed seeds inside the fruit, symbolizes the ecclesial communion of the Church. The blue fess is charged with three silver seven-pointed stars alludes to Our Lady and her virginity, before, during and after the Birth of Christ.

The motto, “Building In Charity”, is from Ephesians 4:16. It was a passage of Scripture used in the Office of Readings on the day he received word he was to be named a bishop in 2015.

The arms were designed by Sig. Renato Poletti.

Farewell, Good and Faithful Servant

Today, February 15, 2022 the Archdiocese of Catania in Sicily bade farewell to the Archbishop since 2002, the Most Rev. Salvatore Gristina (75). He will be succeeded on February 19 by Archbishop-Designate Luigi Renna. Gristina was born June 23, 1946 in Sciara and ordained a priest by St. paul VI in 1970. Named an auxiliary bishop of Palermo in 1992 by St. John Paul II he was consecrated by Salvatore Cardinal Pappalardo. In 1999 he became Bishop of Acireale until 2002 when he was elevated to Metropolitan Archbishop of Catania.

His armorial bearings were designed by the late Andrea Cardinal Lanza di Montezemolo.

Archbishop Boland’s Excellent Example

One of the better coats of arms borne by an American prelate in the 20th Century belonged to the Most Rev. Thomas Aloysius Boland, the 6th Bishop and 2nd Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey from 1952-1974. Boland had been a priest of Newark and served as Auxiliary Bishop there from 1940-1947 and then was translated to the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey as its 2nd Bishop from 1947-1952. Archbishop Boland retired from office in 1974 and died in 1979.

His very nice, simple and stylish coat of arms impaled very well with the equally simple and well-designed armorial bearings of the See of Newark. The contrast in tinctures and the composition of the charges made for an excellent overall appearance. Of course, in the time when he became a bishop and assumed these arms it was still the custom to include the mitre and crozier in the achievement of a bishop.

A Very Poor Example

At the recent installation of the Most Rev. Siegfried Jwara, CMM as Archbishop of Durban it was possible to see his personal symbol on a banner in the sanctuary. I don’t call it a coat of arms because it is composed entirely of reproductions of paintings: one of the Good Shepherd, one of Dom Francis Pfanner, OCSO, the founder of Marianhill and a portrait of another cleric.

This. Isn’t. Heraldry.

Below is a poor quality image taken from a screenshot of the video of the installation. Apologies for the poor quality. Although, perhaps it’s better not to see it more clearly. I’ll say again that you may not simply put whatever you’d like on a shield and call it a coat of arms.

Great Use of a Wonderful Coat of Arms

In 1966 Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York celebrated the golden jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood. A special commemorative medal was struck to mark the occasion. The obverse depicted a portrait in profile of the cardinal. The reverse (pictured) depicted his very nicely designed coat of arms. These arms are actually not those he assumed upon becoming a bishop. When he moved to New York he adopted an entirely different coat of arms which he used for the rest of his life. Those are on the medal.

The personal coat of arms containing a chief “of Religion” is shown, as is tradition, impaled with he arms of the See of New York. In addition, as was the older usual custom in addition to the cardinal’s galero and archiepiscopal cross there are both a mitre and a crozier (turned “outward”) depicted as well as the cross of the Order of Malta placed behind the shield.

Bruno Heim Birthday

March 5 marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of the man many people, myself included, consider to have been “the” master of Catholic ecclesiastical heraldry, the late Archbishop Bruno Bernard Heim. He literally wrote the book on the subject starting with the publication of “Wappenbrauch und Wappenrecht in der Kirche” in 1947 which was published in 1949 in a French edition, “Coutumes et Droit Héraldiques de l’Église” and finally completely revamped, expanded, lavishly illustrated and published in English in 1978 as “Heraldry in the Catholic Church”. He helped revive the art and science of heraldry in the Church which is, sadly, once again in desperate need of some renewal. But his heraldic work was actually a sideline to his ordained ministry and his work in the Holy See’s diplomatic corps where he served in several posts concluding as Pro-Nuncio to the Court of St. James’s in London. He died March 18, 2003 at age 92. Requiescat in Pace.

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.

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.

Archbishop Rozanski of St. Louis

On August 25th the Most Rev. Mitchell Rozanski (62), a Baltimore priest who most recently served as Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts, will be installed as the 11th Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri.As mentioned earlier in the blog his coat of arms will be:

The explanation from the archdiocesan website is as follows: The armorial bearings of the Archdiocese of St. Louis (left side) is a blue field with a gold crusader’s cross, and a crown representing Saint Louis IX, King of France, and patron of both the Archdiocese of St. Louis and City of St. Louis. On the extremes of the cross are found the fleur-de-lis flower that recalls the French foundation of the city.

For his personal arms, His Excellency Archbishop Rozanski has selected a design that is based on two major themes; his Polish heritage and his service to the Archdiocese of Baltimore.   In the upper portion of the design, in red and silver (white), the colors of the Polish national flag, are a cross bottony (each arm terminates in a triple ball), which represented in red on silver, is a variant on the symbolism known as a “cross of St. Michael,” the Archbishop’s baptismal patron. To the right of the cross is a silver rose on a red field, drawing upon the significance that His Excellency’s family name refers to “Rose flower” in Polish.

In base, on the alternating vertical bars of black and gold (yellow) with a red diagonal bar called a “bend,” is an open book of the Most Holy Scriptures. These charges, drawn from the arms of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, signify that His Excellency’s ministry as a deacon, priest, and now as an archbishop is to spread God’s Holy Word to the faithful of the Archdiocese. This symbolism joins well with the Archbishop’s motto, that is taken from the 100th Psalm, that in all that Archbishop Rozanski is to do for The Lord, he is called to “SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS.”

I think it makes for a handsome combination. Ad Multos Annos!