Category Archives: Cardinals

Prefect of the Pontifical Household


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.


Gänswein (current)

Mag 014 Harvey




Mag 011 martin3

Mag 010 martin2

Mag 009 martin1


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)


All the world is praying for Paris and Parisians. Their shepherd will need our prayers as well as he tries to comfort the afflicted and the grieving as well as bring aid to the wounded and the frightened. Andre Cardinal Vingt-Trois’ coat of arms is really not a coat of arms (although at least he has SOMEthing…unlike so many of his brother bishops in France) but I point it out because he, a spiritual leader and guide, needs our support and prayers. The arms themselves, rather than a motto, remind us of an important thing, especially in the face of such bald hatred and aggression: “For God so loved the world…” (that He sent His only Son to be our Redeemer) John 3:16

fm vingt-trois013

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.

Coat of Arms of Pope Pius XII (Before and After)

Much has been written in recent years about the practice of a prelate modifying the design of his coat of arms when he moves from one position to another in the Church. Generally speaking I am against the practice. A coat of arms, even an assumed one, becomes a unique personal symbol and is associated with the person who bears the arms. To change the original design simply because one is taking up a new position or ministry is ill advised.

I am, of course, not referring to marshaling the personal arms with those of a jurisdiction (see, abbey, or even a parish). When a cleric is translated from one jurisdiction to another of course he will then marshal his personal arms to those of the new jurisdiction because, after all, impaling or quartering the personal arms with those of a jurisdiction is a means of displaying two or more separate coats of arms together on one shield. The arms of a diocese do not “become” part of the bishops personal coat of arms. They are displayed along with the personal arms of the incumbent during the tenure of his office as part of the overall achievement but that is all.

Rather, I am speaking of a cleric slightly modifying or even changing entirely the design on the shield of his personal coat of arms. In some cases the change is a result of unhappiness with the design originally adopted. Sometimes it is the case that a cleric is appointed to be a bishop and wishes to make use of his new coat of arms at his episcopal ordination which may be as soon as only six weeks away. So, a design is hastily adopted. later, when being translated to a new see the bishop has had time to second guess his original arms and wishes to tweak the design or even change it altogether. While this is understandable it still should be frowned upon. His new position doesn’t mean he is becoming an entirely new person.

Yet we see that this has and continues to happen. Even no less than Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli 1939-1958) bore arms that were slightly different before and after he became pope. When a bishop and cardinal his arms depicted a dove displayed (i.e. with its wings spread) holding an olive branch in its beak. This is a reference to the name Pacelli which means “peace”. The dove was perched on a trimount and sitting below the arc of a rainbow, an allusion to the story of Noah from the Scriptures.


However, after his election to the papacy there are some differences. The dove now has folded wings and sits perched on the trimount which is depicted on field and above waves of water. In addition, the rainbow is now gone. Perhaps Pius XII felt the reference to the story of Noah was redundant or superfluous? Perhaps he wished to express a global desire for peace since he was elected at a time when the world was on the brink of World War II? Perhaps he simply liked this newer design more? We shall never know yet here is a good example of arms modified when going from one position in the Church to another.

piua xii arms in pen and ink

Reginald Cardinal Pole

The other day I neglected to make note of the anniversary of the death of Reginald Cardinal Pole, Archbishop of Canterbury and a man with a better claim to the English throne than the illegitimate Elizabeth I. His impressive coat of arms depicts: Quarterly of eight: 1. Quarterly France (modern) and England with a label of three points each charged with a canton Gules (Clarence); 2. Per pale Or and Sable a saltire engrailed counterchanged (Pole); 3. Gules a saltire Argent with a label of three points gobony Argent and Azure (neville); 4. Gules a fess between six cross cross lets Or (Beauchamp); 5. Chequy Or and Azure a chevron ermine (Newburgh); 6. Argent three fusils in fess Gules (Montague); 7. Or an eagle displayed Vert armed and beaked Gules (Monthermer); 8. Quarterly i and iv Or three chevrons Gules (Clare); ii and iii Quarterly Argent and Gules, a fret Or, overall a bend Sable (Despencer). The two crosses indicate his archiepiscopal and legantine powers. On the small shields are the arms of the See of Canterbury and the Cathedral Chapter. The image is of the achievement of his arms hanging above his tomb.

Image 50_2

Archbishops of Sydney

With the recent installation of the IX archbishop of Sydney Australia, The Most Rev. Anthony Fisher, OP several have asked about the arms of the other archbishops, five of whom have also been cardinals. Here they are:

1. Bede (John) Polding, OSB


2. Bede (Roger) Vaughan, OSB


3. Patrick Francis Cardinal Moran


4. Michael Kelly


5. Norman Thomas Cardinal Gilroy, KBE

GILROY-3 My painting0001

6. James Darcy Cardinal Freeman, KBE


7. Edward Bede Cardinal Clancy


8. George Cardinal Pell, AC


9. Anthony Colin Fisher, OP


And Still More Noble Cardinals

Since these have been so well received I thought I would share some more of my favorites from among those Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church who were from well known armigerous and noble aristocratic families.

First we see the arms of Johann Theodor Cardinal Wittelsbach von Bayern, Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Panisperna. He was created cardinal “in pectore” in 1743 and proclaimed in 1746. He was also Prince-Bishop of Liège, Friesing & Regensburg. The arms are:

Quarterly of six; 1 (Friesing) Or a moor’s head Sable couped at the neck crowned and collared Gules, 2 (Regensburg) Gules a bend Argent, 3 to 6  (Liège) Gules a column Argent, Gules a fess Argent, Argent three lions rampant vert, Barry Or and Gules a point in point Or three hunting horns Azure; Overall on an escutcheon Bavaria (fussily in bend Argent and Azure) quartering Palatinate (Sable a lion rampant Or). The supporters are two lions Or.


Next are the arms of Luis Antonio Jaime de Borbón y Farnesio, de Baviera y d’Este who was born the youngest son of King Philip V, King of Spain, and his second wife, Elizabeth Farnese. While barely eight years of age, Luis was created 699th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1735 and ordained Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain on 9 September 1735, and subsequently named Cardinal Deacon of the Title of the church of Santa Maria della Scala in Rome on 19 December. On 18 December 1754 he abandoned the ecclesiastical life for lack of vocation, renounced his ecclesiastical titles and dignities and assumed the title of 13th Conde de Chinchón granted by his brother Infante Felipe.

When his older half-brother King Ferdinand VI died without issue in 1759, Luis claimed the throne on the grounds that, he was the only surviving son of Philip V who was born in Spain, and the only one still residing in Spain (his older brothers were Charles, King of Naples and Sicily, and Philip, Duke of Parma, both reigning in Italy). However valid his claim, Luis lost the succession to his oldest brother Charles, while Charles’ third son became Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies.

The arms are: Quarterly 1: (Castile) Gules a triple towered castle Or quartering (Leon) Argent a lion rampant Purpure; 2: (Argaon) Or five pallets Gules impaling (Sicily) Per saltire Aragon and Argent two eagles in fess displayed Sable; a point in point between the two quarters of (Granada) Argent a pomegranate Proper; 3: Per fess (Austria) Gules a fess Argent and (Burgundy  ancient) bendy Or and Azure, a border Gules; 4: Per fess (Burgundy modern) Azure, semeé de lis Or, a border compony Argent and Gules and (Brabant) Sable a lion rampant Or; two inescutcheon in pale the first (Bourbon) Azure three fleurs-de-lis Or, a bordure Gules; the second tierces in pale (Visconti) Argent a viper vorant Azure crowned Or and devouring a child Gules; (Flanders) Or a lion rampant Sable membered Gules, And (Tyrol) Argent, an eagle displayed Gules.


This cardinal, because of his failed claim to the throne, could also be numbered among the “royal” cardinals as well.

(artwork by the late Michael McCarthy)

More Royal Cardinals

Back in October of last year I posted about a Cardinal who was also the King of Portugal. He wasn’t alone in the College of Cardinals. In addition to numerous noblemen there have been other royal Cardinals as well. Below we see two more.

Casimir of Poland who was named a cardinal in 1646 but resigned from the College of Cardinals in 1648 to assume the throne as Jan II Casimir, King of Poland. His arms depict what was then the arms of Poland, namely:

Quarterly 1&4 Gules, an eagle displayed Argent membered and armed Or; 2&3 Gules a knight on horseback (Vytautas) Argent saddled Azure holding a shield Azure charged with a double-barred cross Or. Overall an escutcheon bearing Sweden: A cross patteé throughout Or between 1&4 Azure three crowns Or; 2&3 bendy sinister Argent an Azure overall a lion rampant Or; on an escutcheon in pretense per bend wise Azure, Argent, Gules all charged a Vasa Or.

sc01ad3a68a copy

Next is the possibly familiar arms of Henry Cardinal Stuart, acknowledged by many to be the legitimate heir to the English crown as Henry IX. Henry Benedict Mary Clement Stuart was the Duke of York as well as the Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Portico. He was later made Bishop of Frascati, Bishop of Ostia & Velletri in 1803. He died in 1807 never having taken his rightful place on the throne of Great Britain & Ireland. His arms were the royal arms of the Stuarts, namely:

Quarterly 1&4 Grand Quarters (England & France) 1&4 Azure three fleur-de-lis Or and 2&3 Gules three lions passant guardant Or; 2 (Scotland) Or a lion rampant Gules armed Azure within a double treasure flory counter flory Gules; 3 (Ireland) Azure a harp Or. The arms are supported by the lion of England and the unicorn of Scotland, royal supporters since the time of James I. The arms usually depicts the cadence mark of a silver crescent at the center but this was omitted after he assumed the title Henry IX as Pretender to the throne. This version also include the royal crown rather than a ducal coronet.


(all artwork by the late Michael McCarthy)

The Nobility in The Clergy

Here we have two examples of the arms that became well known in Europe as being associated with territories or noble families being employed by members of the hierarchy, Cardinals to be exact, in their ecclesiastical achievements. The first is of Innio de Avalos de Aragon Cardinal Deacon of S. Lucia in Silice. He was Bishop of Sabina in 1586, Bishop of Frascati in 1589 and Bishop of Porto in 1591. The arms are:

Quarterly, 1&4 per pale Aragon, Hungary, Anjou (ancient) and Jerusalem; 2&3 Grand Quarterly 1&4 Azure, a triple towered castle Or, a bordure compony Argent & Gules; 2&3 Bendy Or and Gules quartering per fess Or and Gules a lion rampant Counterchanged.


The next one is the arms of Damian Hugo Philip von Schönborn, Cardinal Deacon of S. Nicolo in Carcere, Prince-Bishop of Speyer. The arms are:

Speyer (Quarterly 1&4 Azure a cross throughout Argent; 2&3 Gules a crozier in bend Or debruised by a two towered castle Or) overall on an escutcheon Gules on three piles issuant in base Argent a lion passant crowned Or (Schönborn) and below the shield on another shield Argent the cross of the Teutonic Order. Supporters: Two lions affronteé crowned Or, armed and langued Gules each supporting a banner, to dexter of the Empire and to sinister of Austria


(artwork for both is by the late Michael McCarthy)

Something Old (For A Change)

Lately I’ve been posting and commenting on the coats of arms newly assumed by bishops but I thought it would be nice to look back to an older coat of arms. I looked back to the XIX Century to Spain. Spanish bishops often have complex coats of arms because they come from armigerous families whose coats of arms are composed of several coats marshaled together on one shield. This one is no exception. The coat of arms of Juan de la Cruz Ignacio Cardinal Moreno y Maisonave, Archbishop of Toldeo (1875-1884) who was created Cardinal in 1868 while archbishop of Valladolid. He had also been bishop of Oviedo before that.

Here is a typical example of a complicated shield composed of several different coats of arms marshaled together. It may seem busy but it is also a feast for the eye!


Cardinal Woelki of Cologne


On September 20 Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki of Berlin will be installed as the 32nd Archbishop of Cologne, Germany. The very simple arms of the see (Argent a cross throughout Sable) are impaled with the cardinal’s equally simple personal arms.

A blue field with a silver wheel with 6 golden wedges as spokes alternately directed outward or inward. This is the so-called Radbild of Brother Klaus, Niklaus von Flue (1417-1487), which refers to the cardinal’s home parish of St. Bruder Klaus in the Bruder Klaus settlement in Cologne-Mülheim. This circular pattern with the aufzufassenden as golden wedges combines theological, philosophical and mathematical elements. Three rays emanate from the center, just as God does not want to remain in Himself but in turn loves man . Three beams have the opposite disposition and lead to God, the response of those desires which are filled with His love.

The motto, from Acts 5:32, translates as, “We are Witnesses”.

Cardinal Clancy RIP


Edward Bede Cardinal Clancy, Archbishop-Emeritus of Sydney, Australia and Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Valicella (aka the Chiesa Nuova) has passed away. He was born December 13, 1923 and died on August 3, 2014. Requiescat in Pace.


Royal Cardinal


Henry (or Henrique) born on January 31, 1512 and died on January 31, 1580 reigned as King of Portugal and the Algarves and at the same time was a Cardinal of the Church. He ruled in Portugal between 1578 and 1580 and was known, for obvious reasons,  as “Henry the Chaste”.

Henry was the fifth son of King Manuel I of Portugal and Maria of Aragon and the younger brother of King John III. He was not expected to succeed to the Portuguese throne since he was a younger son. Ordained as a priest in order to promote Portuguese interests within the Church then dominated by the Spanish he, not surprisingly as the son of a king, rose fast through the hierarchy, becoming in quick succession Archbishop Braga, then Archbishop of Évora and eventually of Lisbon before receiving the red hat in 1545, along with the Titular Roman church of Quattro Coronati.

Henry served as regent for his grandnephew, Sebastian, after 1557, and then succeeded him as king after Sebastian was killed at the Battle of Alcázarquibir. Henry renounced his clerical offices on his own volition and sought to marry for the continuation of the House of Avis, but Pope Gregory XIII, closely tied to the Habsburgs who controlled Spain, did not release him from his vows. The Cardinal-King died in Almeirim without having appointed a Council of Regency to choose a successor.  Philip II of Spain who had a strong dynastic claim was elected King of Portugal at the Portuguese Cortes of Tomar in 1581.

For his arms he bore the royal arms of Portugal ensigned with a crown and a cardinal’s hat. (NOTE: the number of tassels was not fixed at 30 until the late 19th Century and prior to that cardinals often employed varying numbers of tassels on their galeri)