Category Archives: Archbishops

Norbertine Cardinals

There have been fewer cardinals in the Church from the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré (aka Norbertines) than there have been of other orders and, as far as I can tell, two of those known to be associated with that Order were Abbots in Commendam only. The Premonstratensian Cardinals are:

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Armand Jean du Plessis, Duke de Richelieu, Bishop of Luçon, Commendatory Abbot of Prémontré, (also Territorial Abbot of Cluny and Abbot in Commendam of Citeaux)

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Johannes von Bucka, O.Praem. Archbishop of Olomouc

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Ippolito II d’Este, Archbishop of Auch, Archbishop of Arles, Commendatory Abbot of Prémontré

Benedictine Cardinals

Throughout the Church’s history there have been many members of the hierarchy who were members of Religious Communities. The present pope is a member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and the first from that Order elected to the papacy. One of the oldest Orders in the Western Church is the Order of St. Benedict. Many monks have been made bishops and quite a few have been raised to the Sacred Purple as Cardinals. The following is by no means exhaustive but gives a sampling of some of the Benedictine Cardinals in recent history. (My gratitude to the fine website called Araldica Vaticana for many of these examples.

Enjoy!

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Gregory Cardinal Chiaramonte, OSB (later Pope Pius VII)

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Jean Cardinal Pitra, OSB

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Placido Cardinal Schiaffino, OSB Oliv

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Celestine Cardinal Ganglbauer, OSB (Archbishop of Vienna)

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Aidan Cardinal Gasquet, OSB (Vatican Archivist)

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Bl. Giuseppe Cardinal Dusmet, OSB (Archbishop of Catania)

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Kolos Cardinal Vaszary, OSB (Primate of Hungary)

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Francisco de S. Luiz Cardinal Soraiva, OSB (Patriarch of Lisbon)

NOTE: Cardinal Soraiva also had a version of his arms with a galero but also used the triple tiara as was customary for the Patriarchs of Lisbon until very recently.

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Domenico Cardinal Serafini, OSB

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Ildephonse Cardinal Schuster, OSB (Abbot of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls and later Archbishop of Milan)

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Justinian Cardinal Seredi, OSB (Primate of Hungary)

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Joachim Cardinal Albareda y Ramoneda, OSB (Vatican Librarian)

51CS) Stemma Card. Gut Benno Walter (1897-1970)

Benno Cardinal Gut, OSB

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Basil Cardinal Hume, OSB (Archbishop of Westminster)

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Hans Herman Cardinal Groer, OSB (Archbishop of Vienna)

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Paul Augustine Cardinal Mayer, OSB

Archbishop Comensoli of Melbourne

On August 1, the Most Rev. Peter Comensoli (54) was installed as the Archbishop of Melbourne, Australia.

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The personal Arms of Archbishop Peter Comensoli were assumed in 2011 on his ordination as titular Bishop of Tigisi in Numidia and borne by him as Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Sydney (2011-2014). He bore them impaled with the Arms of the Diocese of Broken Bay as its third Bishop (2014-2018). According to the usual custom in Melbourne he has chosen to use his personal arms alone.
The arms and motto are blazoned as follows: Azure, on a Latin cross inverted Or four seven-pointed mullets (or Commonwealth stars) Gules, in the first quarter a lion’s head erased Argent crined and langued Or and in the second a unicorn’s head erased Argent crined and armed Or respectant.
The motto ‘Praedicamus Christum Crucifixum’ is a quotation from the Apostle Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians (1Cor1.23), and can be translated as ‘We preach Christ crucified.’
The inverted Latin Cross symbolises the Bishop’s nominal patron, the Apostle Peter and the stars reflect the Southern Cross, which shines out over the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit. The lion and the unicorn respectively symbolise the mind and the heart of love.
I was privileged to help design these arms back in 2011 along with Richard d’Apice. They are emblazoned by Sandy Turnbull.

Archbishop McCarrick

Here is a heraldic oddity. It involves the reduction in rank or demotion of a prelate. Now that Theodore McCarrick has resigned from the College of Cardinals he will no longer enjoy the privileges associated with it. For the time being he retains a coat of arms, although, I suppose that remains to be seen as well, and it bears the personal arms he assumed when he first became a bishop as Auxiliary Bishop of NY. He retains the double-barred cross and galero with 20 tassels of an archbishop because he is the Archbishop-emeritus of Washington, DC. The arms of theSee of Washington are not impaled with his personal arms because he is no longer the incumbent of that See. Having laid aside the dignity of a Cardinal he reverts to being Archbishop McCarrick.

 

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Cardinal Law R.I.P.

Bernard Francis Cardinal Law (1931-2017), Cardinal Priest of Santa Susanna, former Archpriest of St. Mary Major (2004-2011), former Archbishop of Boston (1984-2002), former Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau (1973-1984) has died in Rome where he went to live two years after resigning his post in Boston.

His coat of arms as Archbishop of Boston (above)

Archbishop Pierre, Nuncio to the USA

The coat of arms of the Most Rev. Christophe Pierre, Titular Archbishop of Gunela, a Frenchman from Rennes who currently serves as Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America, can be seen below:

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The motto chosen for the Coat of Arms is Si Scires Donum Dei (“If you knew the gift of God” – John 4:10). A woman of Samaria was sitting by the well when Jesus asked her for a drink of water … “Jesus answered her, if you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10
The white animal is an ermine “passant argent gorged or and lampassed gules” as represented in the Coat of Arms of Saint-Malo, the Archbishop’s home town. The legend says that the ermine would rather die than to have her white fur stained.
The rock represents the granite rocks of Brittany. It is strong enough to resist the constant assaults of the sea. It is therefore a symbol of solidity. The surname of the Archbishop, “Pierre”, is the French translation of rock or stone. The Archbishop has also received the mission to represent the Successor of the first Pope, named by Jesus as Cephas (rock or stone).
The river crossing the shield represents the water the woman of Samaria was looking at (the well of Jacob) when Jesus offered to give her living water. It represents also the river which St. Christopher (“Christ-bearer”) was helping people to cross over. Once, a child on his shoulders became suddenly heavy and was revealed to him as being Jesus himself.
The Coat of Arms was designed by Xavier Pierre, a younger brother of the Archbishop. He passed away in 1999.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor: RIP

His Eminence, Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, 10th Archbishop of Westminster died today in the UK after a battle with cancer. He was 85.

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He became the 10th Archbishop of Westminster in March 2000 and “de facto” the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor retired from the role in 2009 and was the first archbishop to do so. Born on 24 August 1932 in Reading, Berkshire, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor was one of six children. Two of his brothers became priests while another played rugby for Ireland. He was ordained priest in Rome in October 1956 and was made Cardinal-Priest in the title of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

His coat of arms (above) was originally designed by the late Bruno Heim when Murphy-O’Connor was named Bishop of Arundel & Brighton in 1977. Later they were impaled with a modified version of the arms of the See of Westminster as recorded at HM College of Arms in London.

May he rest in peace.

Detroit Coat of Arms Redesign: EPIC FAIL

By now so many people have seen the redesign of the archdiocesan coat of arms undertaken by the Archdiocese of Detroit and unveiled last Saturday (below, right).

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Where does one even begin? Perhaps a good place to start is by saying that this was done in conjunction with the release of Archbishop Vigneron’s post-synodal pastoral letter entitled, “Unleash the Gospel”. This letter addresses issues that arose during the archdiocesan synod and outlines the pastoral approaches to be implemented by the archdiocese as it faces the future. As a part of this entire effort someone had the idea that redesigning the coat of arms to reflect the current “realities” of the archdiocese and certain aspects of the archdiocese’s identity would be a good idea. I suppose the thinking was that with a new approach should come a new symbol. The archdiocese’s Moderator of the Curia, Msgr. Robert McClory, who was in charge of the redesign, said, “Initially, we thought about, ‘What is the identity of the archdiocese?’ When people think of the Archdiocese of Detroit, what do they think of, and what visuals are connected to that?”

So, it seems clear that this jettisoning of the former coat of arms and redesigning an entirely new one was done with all the very best of intentions. That seems abundantly clear and, I think, it’s worth pointing out and keeping in mind. There was no malicious iconoclasm motivating a desire to discard outmoded symbolism. Rather, there seems to have been a sincere effort to look to the future in a positive manner with a symbol for the local church that would be more evocative to both members of that local community and those outside of it as well. They were trying to do something good, and new, and fresh.

More is the pity. It is precisely all these good intentions that underscores the appalling ignorance with which this process, in the works for more than a year, proceeded. An article in the archdiocese’s publication, “The Michigan Catholic” indicates the following:

“Archbishop Vigneron consulted with a wide range of people, including laity and the archdiocesan Presbyteral Council, before deciding to go ahead with the changes, Msgr. McClory said. While the archdiocese enlisted the help of a Cleveland-based design firm for the project, the process also benefited from Archbishop Vigneron’s experience redesigning the coat of arms of the Diocese of Oakland, Calif., where he served as bishop from 2003-09.”

Apparently, the Archbishop’s previous experience left him feeling confident in doing a wide and varied consultation with just about everyone, except someone well versed in the customs, rules and traditions of good heraldic design. That really baffles me. In these days even a simple Google search will easily yield at least some possibilities of contacting a group or individual who has some knowledge or expertise in designing a coat of arms. Consulting such a person or group really wouldn’t be so difficult. I have to ask why it was deemed important to solicit the opinions of laity and the Presbyteral Council? What experience or learning do they possess that would enable them to determine a good heraldic design? I can appreciate the Archbishop’s desire to avoid making such a change by episcopal fiat and to seek the input of various people in his archdiocese. Nevertheless, the way to design or redesign a coat of arms is not by committee. I think the end result is clear evidence of that.

What they have come up with is, simply put, bad. The artwork is cartoonish and dated. The overall composition bears little to no resemblance to anything remotely like a coat of arms. The mitre on top has the appearance more of a royal crown than an episcopal mitre. The confusing miss-mash of charges float all over the place on the field. You cannot simply take a bunch of logo-like symbols, slap them onto a shield and call it “heraldry”!

Most of all, however, I think the epic fail has its origins in a basic misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of a coat of arms in the first place. Monsignor McClory goes on to say:

“A major difference between the old coat of arms and the new, Msgr. McClory said, is one’s ability to tell the story of faith using its symbols: Starting with the Old Testament in St. Anne and continuing through the revelation of the New Testament through her daughter, Mary, one comes to Christ through the waters of baptism and is invited through the open doors of the Church to bring others with them to their ultimate fulfillment with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in heaven. I think you can really tell a story with this. You can’t do it with the old coat of arms.”

And there you have it. Once again, because something is connected to the Church it becomes about “telling a story”, or “tracing a history”. Not everything connected to the Church has to be a catechetical tool; not everything is a means of evangelization. Just as a personal coat of arms is not supposed to be one’s pictorial C.V.  so, too, a corporate coat of arms is not supposed to be a visual mission statement or pictorial history.

Heraldry was developed as a means of creating a unique identifying mark. Full stop.

In addition, because even modern heraldry still hearkens back to the medieval period in which heraldry has its origins there is supposed to be both a timelessness and a sense of permanence to heraldry. It’s quite wrong to change a coat of arms simply because it was designed and adopted in a different time and because the thinking has changed about what should be on it. A coat of arms doesn’t have to “tell a story”; it doesn’t have to “reflect present realities”; it is supposed to be immutable. Since it becomes the identifying mark of the individual or corporate body that uses it the permanent character of it must be respected.

That is not to say that there are no instances of changes being made to a coat of arms. Even within the science of heraldry itself techniques such as marshaling (combining two or more coats of arms on the same shield), augmentation (adding a new element to an existing coat of arms to reflect an honor, event or accomplishment) and differencing (slightly changing an initial design to indicate its use by a relative, descendant, or protégé) exist to make changes within the accepted framework of heraldic custom and practice. But, simply throwing out the former coat of arms and redesigning the thing from scratch is foreign to the nature of heraldry. Let me be clear: it is sometimes done and whenever it is, it is always wrong.

Rather, the archdiocese has fallen victim to a not uncommon phenomenon present today. That is, equating heraldry with a logo. Corporate logos frequently change. Whether it’s to mark the takeover of the corporate body by another, or simply to refresh and renew the artwork, or to indicate the corporate body embarking on a new phase or vision the transitory nature of corporate logos almost necessitates their periodic updating or full-scale redesign. I note that the archdiocese consulted with a Cleveland based design firm. But, what does this firm know of heraldry? How much experience do they have designing a heraldic achievement? I would hazard a guess that its very little compared with their experience of coming up with a first time logo or doing a redesign for a group interested in “re-branding”. But, a coat of arms is neither a logo nor a brand.

The simplest solution to their present situation would have been to leave their diocesan coat of arms alone and design a logo which would be used not only for the roll out of this most recent pastoral letter and the ensuing archdiocesan efforts at implementing it but could have also become the favored symbol used by the archdiocese in place of the coat of arms. Things like letterhead, signage, etc. could easily have borne this newer logo and simply ignored the coat of arms. Its not the solution that those of us who prefer heraldry might like but it certainly is far from unprecedented. Numerous ecclesiastical institutions have desired a symbol that was considered more in keeping with the times. They have chosen to respect the existence of a previously adopted coat of arms and merely make minimal use of it in favor of the newer logo they have adopted as more fitting to their situation.

The Archdiocese of Detroit could have done the same. They could have tried, with the help of a competent heraldic designer, to truly re-design the present coat of arms. They could have, for example retained the gold field, the black cross and three gold stars on the cross and removed the antlers and martlets. Then in those now empty quadrants they could have placed charges symbolic of what they desired. They could have augmented the current coat of arms by means of placing a smaller shield at the center of the design bearing whatever symbols they wanted. They could have adopted a kind of heraldic badge (a symbol composed of heraldic charges but separate from a shield) and used that in conjunction with the archdiocesan coat of arms as well as had new artwork prepared for both. They could have decided to adopt an archdiocesan logo to be used instead of the coat of arms while leaving the former alone.

Instead, they chose the ill-advised path of completely throwing out the coat of arms first adopted 80 years ago and used regularly throughout the archdiocese in many ways and in many places, and coming up with an entirely new design, poorly executed, which bears little to no resemblance to the original and destroys any visual continuity with what had been used.

It has been announced that over time the former coat of arms will slowly but systematically be expunged and the Archbishop plans to have a new rendering of his own coat of arms impaled with this mess. I think that’s a very bad idea. Rather, if he wishes no longer to use the older archdiocesan arms the Archbishop should simply use his personal arms on the shield alone. That way, if his successor wishes to correct this error and revert to the former coat of arms he can do so easily.

I suppose that it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that this kind of thing happened considering what the archdiocese did to redesign what had been its beautiful cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Much of that renovation is quite nice (I’m thinking in particular of the floor of the sanctuary) but most of it doesn’t fit at all with the style of a neo-gothic structure. Once again in the interest of “updating” the archdiocese has an epic fail on its hands. What I find particularly sad is the failure isn’t because of a difference of opinion regarding taste. Rather, the fail occurred because of inexcusable ignorance of the subject at hand. They simply don’t get what a coat of arms is supposed to be. What they’ve ended up with is unheraldic and ugly.

Archbishop Stack of Cardiff

From the most recent College of Arms Newsletter: A grant of Arms was made by Letters Patent of Garter and Clarenceux Kings of Arms dated 14 October 2016 to George STACK, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cardiff.

College reference: Grants 179/343. The blazon reads:

“Arms (illustrated below): Vert a Pall parted and fretted each piece Argent voided Azure between in chief a Fleur-de-lys Argent in the dexter a Garb and in the sinister a Stag’s Head caboshed a Crescent between the attires Or.”

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Archbishop Etienne’s Mistake

On November 9, 2016 the Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne was installed as the fourth Metropolitan Archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska. Since December of 2009, the 57-year-old Indiana native had been serving as the Bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming. At the time of his election as a bishop he assumed a coat of arms which he bore during his tenure as Bishop of Cheyenne:

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The design was, in my opinion, a bit crowded and fell victim to the usual problem with most of the heraldry of the American hierarchy. Namely, he tried to include too much. Time and time again I warn on this blog and elsewhere against the practice of trying to have a coat of arms be a “CV in pictures”. Sadly, that advice seems to frequently go unheeded.

I noticed that when His Excellency was translated and promoted to Anchorage that he has assumed a new personal coat of arms:

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I must say that the overall design is surely more simple and more clear. In addition, it seems apparent that upon further reflection he realized that he had included too many charges and decided that there were, indeed, some he could live without. I think its unfortunate that he decided to discard the green field because just as it contrasted so nicely with the red-dominated arms of the See of Cheyenne, similarly, the contrast with the predominantly blue arms of the See of Anchorage would have been more striking.

The overall appearance of the coat of arms as it is now is most definitely better. However, the “mistake” I believe the archbishop has made is in entirely changing the original design. He has, in fact, assumed a second new coat of arms. Many prelates feel that when they change assignments that this is a perfectly acceptable practice. It’s as if “a new coat of arms for the new job” is their thought. In addition, after having assumed arms originally, often hastily because of the unfortunate expectation that a bishop in the USA will have his coat of arms prepared and ready to be displayed at the time of his ordination and/or installation, which is an unreasonable and unnecessary expectation, the armiger has had a chance for second thoughts and wishes to make modifications. But there is a problem.

You CANNOT.

That is to say, you really REALLY shouldn’t. A coat of arms isn’t a “logo” which companies often feel free to update, modify or even discard in favor of a new one. A coat of arms is a personal mark of identification and it becomes identified with the particular armiger to whom it belongs. In places like the USA where arms are not granted by a heraldic authority but are legally and quite appropriately assumed (i.e. adopted) great care must be taken to design a coat of arms with which the armiger is happy at the time they are assumed and made public.

In the case of a bishop the personal arms should not be designed to harmonize with the arms of the See with which they will be impaled for the simple reason that bishops sometimes move and re-designing the personal arms to “go better” with the arms of the See is ill-advised. (see the three different versions of the personal arms borne by Cardinal Cupich of Chicago or Bishop Libasci of Manchester, NH. Cardinal O’Brien, the Grandmaster of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher has changed his coat of arms no less than four times!). Part of the problem is the truncated timeline with which so many bishops have to contend when the design process begins. It is not unheard of for there to be as little as six weeks in between the announcement of his appointment and the ordination/installation. The poor heraldic designer must then contend with constant pressure from diocesan officials and committee members demanding the finished artwork for use on things like invitations, programs and in press packets.

But, designing a good coat of arms takes time. Frequently the designer and the armiger will go through three or four sketches (or more) before settling on a proper design. More frequently because of the time constraint (and occasionally because of a complete lack of interest in the subject on the part of the new bishop) something deemed to be “good enough” is cobbled together in a slap-dash manner and the result is, at best, a less-than-perfect design and, at worst, downright ugly and/or ridiculous!

When designing a coat of arms for someone who is not on a three week deadline I often encourage them to use what is jokingly referred to as “the refrigerator test”. That is, they are asked to take a sketch of the coat of arms and put it somewhere, like their refrigerator, where they will see it everyday. The idea is to live with it for a time and keep seeing it over and over to see if the initial ideas have staying power. In the case of Archbishop Etienne such a test might have enabled him to see that the original design was cluttered and that those things he wanted to represent in his coat of arms could have been done with a simpler design. Part of the solution here is to abandon the idea that a new bishop’s coat of arms must be available immediately, in a manner of weeks, and in time for his ordination/installation. I can assure you that in places where arms are granted by a heraldic authority such an authority feels no obligation to do their work with such a ridiculous deadline. There is absolutely nothing that requires a bishop’s coat of arms to be finished and ready by the day of his ordination/installation. A few more weeks to get it right won’t kill anybody.

Part of this problem could be solved by bishops seeking the advice of those competent and well-versed in the principles, customs and traditions of good heraldic practice. More often than not they don’t. They need to stop turning to the myriad of lawyers, engineers, seminarians and other enthusiasts who have read “a whole book” on heraldry and have declared themselves to be “expert” in heraldic design. In addition, the computer age has also led to the advent of a plethora of the heraldic equivalent of the singer/songwriter: those people who are competent artists but who don’t really know the first thing about heraldry or its rules. They can create really nice artistic renderings but should be collaborating with a competent designer instead of trying to do it all. Expertise in DESIGNING a coat of arms and in DEPICTING that design are two very different things.

Finally, it has to be said that, in the Church anyway, it is unfortunate that those who make the most use of heraldry, prelates, are frequently the ones who both know the least about it and also frequently have little interest in learning about its proper use and application. (You know, once they make you a bishop they take the bone out of your head that allows you to remember you can occasionally still be taught something). As mentioned above, a coat of arms can’t simply be changed after several years because one feels like it. Despite the fact that it belongs to the armiger and, in many cases, was devised by him as well as adopted by him he is not free capriciously to change the design on a whim especially not after having borne a particular coat of arms for years. It is akin to deciding to use an alias after years of being known as something else. While there is no “heraldry police” in the Church to stop you it is, nevertheless, wrong to change the design of a personal coat of arms even when such changes result in the general improvement of the design.

Rather, the task is to have a well-designed and pleasing coat of arms the first time around and to use that same coat of arms no matter how often a bishop might be transferred to a new diocese. It is important to remember that impaling the personal arms with the arms of the See is a custom, not a requirement, and not even a universal one at that. It predominates in N. America but it is far from the usual custom throughout the world. When impalement is employed bishops need to remember that the dexter impalement (the arms of the See) does not become part of their coat of arms. Instead, by impaling there are two distinct coats of arms being displayed on one shield. It is a form of marshaling two or more coats of arms and even at that it lasts only for their tenure in that office. A bishop-emeritus of a given diocese has no right whatsoever to continue impaling his personal arms with the arms of the See once he has resigned that See.

The best process to use is the same one which circumstance forces onto those bishops who first become Auxiliary Bishops. Namely, they design and assume a personal coat of arms alone which fills the entire shield. Later, if they are promoted to be a Diocesan Bishop then they may choose to impale their personal arms with the arms of their diocese. If, by chance, such an impalement makes for an aesthetically unpleasing combination then the solution is NOT to change their personal arms (or the diocesan one for that matter). The better option would be for the bishop in question simply to bear his personal arms alone and not impale them at all. It is important, however, for the armiger to maintain that coat of arms which he first assumed and which has become identified with him as much as his signature or the appearance of his face. As already stated above even when the temptation is strong to re-design the coat of arms for the purpose of improving the design after further reflection such an impulse must be stifled and ignored. Once the arms have been assumed it is, frankly, too late. That’s why its better to be sure of what is being assumed in the first place; it cannot, and should not be changed later.

I have written in these pages extensively about the idea of employing various versions of a coat of arms to suit the occasion and/or office held. Sometimes, coats of arms receive legitimate augmentations to reflect some event or change in status. Frequently, the external ornaments in a heraldic achievement, even of a bishop, change or are added to in order to reflect an honor received. All of these are legitimate modifications. However, for a bishop who has assumed a coat of arms and several years later is then moved to a different diocese or some other such position within the Church simply to say to himself, “You know, I’ve had second thoughts about including thus-and-such in my coat of arms. If I had to do it over again I’d use something different. Let me take advantage of this change and the fact that new artwork has to be prepared to redesign the whole thing” is egregiously wrong and is, realistically, a gigantic abuse of his authority. After all, in the Church what a bishop wants is rarely questioned and even more rarely denied.

Nevertheless, it is of utmost importance to get it right the first time, that is, at the time of assuming the coat of arms. Changing it later ISN’T an option and bishops who ignore that are making a mistake.

(The artwork for Archbishop Etienne’s coats of arms is by Deacon Paul Sullivan)

 

 

Cardinal Tobin of Newark

On Friday, January 6, 2017 His Eminence, Joseph Cardinal Tobin,  CSsR the Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria delle Grazie a Via Trionfale and former metropolitan archbishop of Indianapolis, age 64, will be installed as the tenth bishop and sixth metropolitan archbishop of Newark, New Jersey.

A Redemptorist by Religious Profession he makes the same, long-standing error of including the arms of his Religious Order in his personal arms implying jurisdiction over it. At one time he did actually serve as General Superior of his Order and could have arguably impaled a personal coat of arms with the Order’s arms. However, he did not become a bishop, and assume a coat of arms, until after his tenure as General. As I say, it is a common error for Religious prelates but it is, nevertheless, most definitely an error.

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John Cardinal Ribat, MSC, KBE

(Sir) John Ribat, MSC, KBE currently the Archbishop of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, will be elevated to the Sacred Purple and created Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church on November 19, 2016. We’re not concerned with his coat of arms as they would have appeared upon his ordination to the episcopacy as Auxiliary Bishop of Bereina, PNG in 2001. Rather, since 2008 when he succeeded as Archbishop of Port Moresby he has born the arms:

Quartered; 1) Argent, the Sacred Heart of Jesus enflamed superimposed on the Greek letters Chi and Rho all Gules, 2) Azure, the monogram of Our Lady Or, 3) Azure an open book Or the pages charged with the Greek letters Alpha and Omega Gules, 4) Argent, a branch of betel nut Proper.

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These arms had been rendered for him by Renato Poletti, a Roman lawyer who, like many amateur heraldic enthusiasts, dabbles in heraldic design and produces his artwork on computer. He took it upon himself, unsolicited, to produce a new rendering of the Cardinal-designate’s coat of arms with the external ornaments of a Cardinal (above). However, Archbishop Ribat had already been contacted by Mr. Richard d’Apice of the Australian Heraldry Society to discuss a re-working of the emblazonment of his arms to reflect his new honor. Such projects have frequently been undertaken by Mr. d’Apice before as well as the designs of new coats of arms for many prelates and laypeople in his own Australia. Mr. d’Apice, as he often does, consulted with me to seek some advice and input.

While I do not particularly like the design of the arms I advised that it would be best at this point for a man who has been a bishop for fifteen years and an archbishop for eight to retain the arms he has been using. The deplorable habit so many bishops have today of completely redesigning their coats of arms every time they move or are promoted is to be avoided at all costs, even at the cost of maintaining a coat of arms of an inferior design. Simply to change one’s personal arms because there has been a change in office or rank goes against the whole point of heraldry as a mark of personal identification. While external ornaments correctly change to indicate a change in rank and personal arms may be marshaled with other coats of arms simply deciding after several years that one would like to adopt a different coat of arms is, in a word, wrong.

However, it is often the case that a different artist can emblazon a coat of arms in a manner that will make it both aesthetically more pleasing as well as heraldically more bearable (pun intended). This is the case with the arms of Cardinal Ribat. Mr. d’Apice and I agreed that perhaps the best thing we could do was to advise His soon-to-be Eminence to have the arms rendered by the artist with whom we usually work, Mr. Sandy Turnbull, also a member of the Australian Heraldry Society who also works in computer generated artwork. The result of Mr. Turnbull’s efforts may be seen below.

ribat

The overall shape of the achievement and the rendering of the charges, in particular the fact that they fill the field in each quarter better, as well as the depiction of the branch of betel nut are definitely an improvement. The placement of the pallium (which, for the record, I oppose in any heraldic achievement) is also better. In addition, the color palette and vibrancy of the colors is, in my opinion, also superior. The Cardinal-designate was so pleased that he communicated to Mr. d’Apice through his Vicar General that Mr. Turnbull’s rendering will be used, in particular, on his letterhead and official documents. It is indeed difficult to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear but, on occasion, the solution to what to do about a less than happy heraldic design is simply to emblazon the arms in a better fashion.

Archbishop Hebda

On May 14, Bernard Hebda, former bishop of Gaylord, Michigan and, most recently Coadjutor Archbishop of Newark (due to succeed in two more months on the resignation of Abp. Myers) was instead installed as the Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota. His arms are:

Coat-of-Arms-Archbishop-Hebda-big

The blue, seven-pointed star at the top right of the shield signifies Mary and Archbishop Hebda’s placement of his pastoral ministry under her protection. The elderberry tree symbolizes Archbishop Hebda’s Polish ancestry. The tree is widely found in southeastern Poland, from where Archbishop Hebda’s paternal grandparents emigrated. The tree’s Polish name, “bez heb,” also serves as a visual pun of “Hebda.”

The tree also has a theological meaning; as one of the first plants to show signs of life after winter, it is also used to symbolize hope for a season of fertility and graces. According to an official document explaining the blazonry of Archbishop Hebda’s coat of arms, “Being strong and fruitful, the elderberry has also been identified with constancy and pastoral zeal, fundamental traits expected of any bishop.”

The seven green berries — reminiscent of rosary beads — at the top of the tree are a sign that he was named a bishop on Oct. 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. With the additional eight berries at the bottom of the tree, the total 15 berries symbolize Mary’s assumption, celebrated Aug. 15. The Norbertine monastery in Hebdów, Poland, was dedicated to the Assumption in the 12th century, and “Hebda” was a common name among those who lived and worked on the monastery’s lands. The four clusters of fruit on the elderberry tree are a sign of the cardinal virtues — prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance — which “sustain the pastoral activity of the bishop.” [NOTE: all of the previous paragraph and the symbolism it describes is really a bit of a stretch, heraldically.]

The checked pattern on the fess is adopted from the coat of arms of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where Archbishop Hebda grew up and was ordained a priest July 1, 1989. According to the blazonry explanation, the placement of the tree on the chequy fess “recalls that Bishop Hebda has roots in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and has drawn his strength from that local Church.”

Archbishop Viganó

As he ends his tenure as Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America we say farewell and THANK YOU to the Most Reverend Carlo Maria Viganó as he begins his well-earned retirement. By his manner and quiet diplomacy he has shone that, indeed, he does know Him in whom he has believed.

Coat_of_arms_of_Carlo_Maria_Viganò.svg

Archbishop Zuppi of Bologna

zuppi-matteo-maria-stemma-arcivescovo-bologna

The coat of arms of the new Archbishop of Bologna, the Most Rev. Matteo Zuppi.

The shield depicts the Book of the Gospels, a river and the cross of Constantine. The book is open to John 4:34-35.  Jesus at Jacob’s well with the Samaritan woman said , “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say perhaps four more months and then the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” The river evokes the Tiber and Rome. The sign of water and the river runs through the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. The Cross with Alpha and Omega is a sign evoking Christ crucified and risen, the beginning and end of all things. This cross is above the triumphal arch of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome where Archbishop Zuppi has lived for most of his priestly ministry.

The scroll below shows the motto chosen by Archbishop Zuppi “Gaudium Domini Fortitudo Vestra.” The joy of the Lord is your strength. (Neh 8:10)

The pallium is both unnecessary and very ill-placed.

Prefect of the Pontifical Household

Georg_G_nswein_Benedict_XVI

Gänsewein (former)

Since the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI (2005-2013) the Prefect of the Pontifical Household (formerly called the Majordomo of His Holiness) has been the Most Rev. Georg Gänswein, who also served Pope Benedict as his personal secretary. At the time Gänswein was ordained to the episcopacy he assumed a coat of arms that impaled (that is, combined side by side on the same shield) his own personal emblems with the coat of arms of the pope he served, Benedict XVI. Upon the abdication of of Pope Benedict and the election of Pope Francis Gänswein’s coat of arms changed to reflect the new pope he continued to serve as Prefect of the Pontifical Household. This is an old custom. Below are the coats of arms of several of these Prefects with their arms impaled with the various popes under whom they served.

Georg_G_nswein_Francis

Gänswein (current)

Mag 014 Harvey

Harvey

unnamed

Monduzzi

Mag 011 martin3

Mag 010 martin2

Mag 009 martin1

Martin

Mag 007 Nasalli a copy

Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano

Mag 008 Callori

Callori di Vignale

unnamed (1)

Mag 004 Patrizi Costantino

Mag 002 Gallarati Scotti Giovanni

unnamed (3)

External Ornaments in Heraldry

The last post on the arms of the new Territorial Abbot of St. Maurice started an interesting conversation in the comments section. Namely, about the fact that the Abbot’s arms are ensigned with only the crozier that indicates the coat of arms belongs to an abbot. Many dislike it when the arms of a cleric do not employ the use of the distinctive galero, or broad-brimmed hat, which usually replaces both the helm and crest (with their accompanying torse and mantling) found in the heraldic achievements of lay people. This ecclesiastical hat is depicted in varying colors and with varying numbers of tassels to indicate the rank of the armiger. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England have developed elaborate systems for the use of the galero. Many other constituent churches of the Anglican Communion employ the system devised for the Church of England and approved by Earl Marshal’s Warrant in the 1960s.

However, while it is true that the galero certainly makes the coat of arms of a clergyman instantly recognizable as such it is not true that the galero is always and everywhere mandatory for clergy. In fact, there are no external ornaments that are mandatory in heraldry. A coat of arms, simply put, may consist of the shield alone. The motto, which many clerics spend way too much time on devising, is not a necessary component to a coat of arms for example.

In the case of a bishop the one single external ornament that marks the coat of arms as that of a bishop is the episcopal cross placed behind the shield. Full stop. There is no other external ornament necessary and quite a few bishops have chosen to display the episcopal cross (which is not to be confused, as it often is, with the liturgical processional cross) alone in their heraldic achievement. The green galero with twelve tassels is not exclusive to them so it is not the necessary element to indicate the arms of a bishop. Similarly, archbishops use the archiepiscopal cross which has two horizontal bars and is sometimes somewhat misleadingly referred to as the patriarchal cross, in their coats of arms. The green galero with twenty tassels is used almost exclusively by archbishops but it, too, is not a necessary or mandatory external ornament.

When it comes to cardinals the situation changes somewhat in that the red galero with its thirty tassels is, pretty much, the only external ornament that indicates the armiger is a member of the College of Cardinals.

For other clergy, again, the situation remains that the galero is usually employed and certainly makes it clear that the coat of arms belongs to a cleric rather than a laic but the privilege of ensigning the shield with various ornaments isn’t always absolutely necessary. In the case of an abbot it is the (usually veiled) crozier that indicates the arms of an abbot or abbess, the latter being easily distinguished by the lozenge or oval shape of the shield. If a coat of arms is ensigned with a veiled crozier then it is indicating the armiger is a cleric with the rank of abbot whether the black galero with twelve tassels is displayed or not. This is so because the black galero with twelve tassels may also be used by Vicars General; Vicars Episcopal; Non-Episcopal Ordinaries, Moderators of the Curia, Titular Abbots, Prelates of Chivalric Orders as well as Superiors General of Religious Orders and Clerical Religious Congregations. However, only an abbot may also employ a veiled crozier*. Thus it is the crozier that indicates the coat of arms belongs to an abbot, not the galero.

Similarly, the green galero with twelve tassels may be used by Territorial Abbots, Permanent Apostolic Administrators and Vicars or Prefects Apostolic who lack the episcopal character. However, only a bishop or archbishop may also ensign the shield with the episcopal or archiepiscopal cross.

It is worth mentioning that in some places bishops and abbots still use the mitre as well as the cross or crozier in ensigning their shields rather than the galero despite the preference as indicated by Papal Instruction for the use of the galero.

As I said jokingly to one of my sympathetic correspondents, “You don’t have to have all the doo-dads on your coat of arms when, frequently, there is only a single ornament that is the true indication of rank”.

*NOTE: Recently, the Church has established Ordinariates for former Anglicans who wish to come into the Roman Catholic Church. These are headed by Ordinaries who, while exercising Ordinary jurisdiction over the churches under their charge, do not possess the episcopal office. In some cases they were formerly bishops in some branch of the Anglican Communion. Of the three existing today they, too, ensign their shields with the proper galero of rank (usually that of a Prothonotary Apostolic, the highest rank of “monsignor” which is a purple hat with twelve red tassels) as well as a purposely UN-veiled crozier to distinguish it from the crozier of an abbot. This is because they exercise Ordinary jurisdiction of which the crozier is a symbol and they are entitled to use the pontificals liturgically so they actually carry a crozier at Mass but the veil on the crozier is particular to monastics which these Ordinaries are not.