Category Archives: Priests

John Andrew (1931-2014)


The Reverend John Gerald Barton Andrew OBE, DD, who was born in Yorkshire, England, was a priest in the Church of England and served as domestic chaplain to Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey, a position from which he was called to Saint Thomas in NY. He had a distinguished tenure, in which his preaching, pastoral presence and leadership of the liturgy drew large congregations to the Church, an achievement especially notable during an era of general decline in the Episcopal Church. He was awarded honorary degrees from several Episcopal/Anglican seminaries in recognition of his work.

John Andrew was a friend and confidant of many church leaders both within and outside Anglicanism. He was a particular friend of Terence Cardinal Cooke and was a promoter of ecumenical relations between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

Father Andrew’s ministry was remarkable for his ability in social conversation, humor, and joyousness – for which reasons many were eager to claim him as their friend. The secret of his influence was a gift he received and passed on from Archbishop Ramsey – namely, his transparent faith in Jesus and the miracles of the Gospel.

After a brief retirement to England, Father Andrew returned to New York in 1999 where he eventually returned to Saint Thomas at his successor’s invitation to be the “junior curate” as Rector Emeritus.

John Andrew, faithful priest and XI Rector of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, entered into glory at 5:20am (EDT) on Friday, 17th October 2014 at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

On Wednesday evening, Father Andrew had dinner with Bishop John O’Hara, of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. On his way home, Father Andrew suffered a massive cardiac episode and collapsed. He was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital but never regained consciousness.

Himself an enthusiastic heraldist John designed so many coats of arms for people that were accepted by the College of Arms in London that he was given the unofficial nickname of “Manhattan Pursuivant”. Requiescat in Pace.


Another Coat of Arms of a Priest

Below is the recently designed coat of arms for a priest. The shield is divided per saltire, the upper and lower quarters being red and the other two being green. These colors, along with the silver (white) are the national colors of Italy, the country of the bearer’s ancestry. In the center there is an open royal crown with two arrows, points downward, passing through it crossed in saltire and the crown and arrows are gold (yellow). This is the heraldic device used to symbolize the armiger’s patron saint. The two silver (white) stars on either side evoke the armiger’s last name which, translated into English, means a bringer of light. The stars are the firmaments fixed lights. Above and below the main charge are two hearts. This is an allusion to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts as well as to the fact that the armiger has had a heart transplant and so has also had two hearts. The motto “Lift Up Your Hearts” is taken from the opening dialogue of the Preface of the Mass.

We had been in discussion about a coat of arms for some time but couldn’t seem to settle on a design that satisfied us both or, for that matter, even come up with a good starting point. This design, somewhat oddly, simply came to me in my minds eye all at once one afternoon and was accepted immediately by the armiger.


New Arms of a Priest


Here is a coat of arms I just completed for a Roman Catholic priest. He has a devotion to St. Michael the Archangel and wanted to incorporate a charge that suggested St. Michael defeating the Evil One. In addition, he was rather inspired by the personal arms of Archbishop Georg Gänswein, The Prefect of the Pontifical Household, whose arms depict a dragon slain by a spear as an allusion to St. George. In this coat of arms the dragon is once again used this time to allude to Satan and he is depicted pierced by a flaming sword, a heraldic symbol of St. Michael. The three stars represent both Our Lady and the Blessed Trinity. The motto is a translation of the name Michael. The phrase, “Quis Ut Deus” means “Who Is Like God”. The shield is ensigned with the simple black galero of a priest. The similarity to the arms of Abp. Gänswein can be seen but there is enough of a difference in the design to make these arms unique.

A Chaplain to His Holiness

Back in 2012 a priest who, like me, grew up on Long Island and who, unlike me served as a priest of the diocese of Rockville Centre and also went on to serve the U.S. Air Force as a chaplain rising to the rank of Colonel, was honored by the then Pope, Benedict XVI, with the rank of Chaplain to His Holiness. This is the lowest of the three grades of prelates in the papal household who are collectively addressed as “Monsignor” (Italian for “My Lord”). Fr. Mark Rowan contacted me and asked if I could assist him with the design of a coat of arms. I jumped at the chance to help out a fellow Long Islander as well as a chance to assist someone who was serving not only the Lord but our country. Below is the end result:


The main background of the field is a shade of blue called, in heraldry, Bleu Celeste. It is borrowed from the coat of arms of the U.S. Air Force. Obviously, it alludes to the blue of the sky. On this is the single charge of the open globe combined with a Latin cross (one where the lower arm is longer than the other three) in silver. This charge is taken from the arms of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. Superimposed over this is a small black roundel, called a “pellet”. This, in turn, has three small silver hills. It is borrowed from the coat of arms of the diocese of Rockville Centre, NY. The three small hills are, in turn, taken from the arms of Pope Pius XII who founded the diocese of Rockville Centre in 1957. That diocese is composed of territory taken from the diocese of Brooklyn so the black tincture represents the marshes, which recalled to the Dutch their homeland in Breuckelen on the Vecht in the Province of Utrecht. The Dutch who settled Brooklyn at first called it “Breuck-Landt,” meaning “broken land,” or “marshland,” inasmuch as a great deal of land was broken up by patches of water.

The upper third of the shield (called the “chief”) is separated from the rest of the background by a line whose shape is referred to as “nebuly”. This type of line in heraldry is used to suggest clouds. This same dividing line is also used in the coat of arms of the U.S. Air Force. Here, along with the bleu celeste, it alludes to Msgr. Rowan’s service as a Chaplain. The bumps or nebuli are six in number. This is a reference to the fact that Msgr. Rowan has served or provided support on six different continents in the course of his service as a Chaplain and has also administered six of the seven sacraments. (The seventh sacrament, holy orders, is reserved to bishops). On the gold (or yellow) colored chief stands a red winged lion that is the symbol of his patron saint, St. Mark, the Evangelist. The lion holds, in his right front paw a green trefoil, more commonly known as a shamrock, which is the symbol of Msgr. Rowan’s Irish ancestry.

The galero, or ecclesiastical hat, is used in Church heraldry in place of the more martial helmet, mantling and crest. Originally a pilgrim’s hat it was worn and used in heraldry by Cardinals. Later, it was adopted by the lesser prelates. Eventually a system of both colors and number of tassels was devised to indicate the various ranks within the hierarchy. Msgr. Rowan’s arms use a black galero like any priest but the cords and tassels are purple indicating he is a member of the papal household. This galero indicates the bearer is a Chaplain to His Holiness according to the Motu Proprio, “Inter Multiplices” of Pope St. Pius X in 1905.

On a scroll below the shield Msgr. Rowan has chosen the motto, “Christ Be Beside Me” which is taken from the prayer known as “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”. After I completed this design and Msgr. Rowan approved the artwork was quickly and expertly executed by Mr. Sandy Turnbull of Australia. Mr. Turnbull is a member of the Australian Heraldry Society.

Assumption Anniversary


Sixteen years ago today, on the feast of St. Vincent dePaul, I was ordained a priest by the late Bishop Vincent (dePaul) Breen. On that day as well I assumed my coat of arms since I was now able to ensign the shield with the galero of a priest. The rendering used at that time (above) was done by the late Richard Crossett, an American heraldic artist of great talent. So, in addition to celebrating sixteen years as a priest today I celebrate sixteen years being armigerous. (for those of you who don’t know…go look it up!)