Category Archives: Uncategorized

King Constantine II RIP

King Constantine II, the last King of the Hellenes from March, 1964-June, 1973 and Head of the House of Glücksburg-Greece passed away today. May he rest in peace.

His sister is Sofia, the former Queen of Spain and King Charles III of the UK is his second cousin. Constantine was also the Prince of Wales’ godfather.

The royal arms of the Kingdom of Greece consists of the royal arms of Denmark on an escutcheon over the arms of Greece (Azure, a Greek cross throughout Argent). The Greek royal house is a scion of the House of Glucksburg (Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg) which is the ruling house of Denmark.

Father Smith

The armorial bearings of the Reverend Father James R. Smith of the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey were designed by me and recently assumed by the priest.

The shield is divided by a vertical line with the left side colored blue and the right side colored gold (yellow). These colors are borrowed from the armorial bearings of the Diocese of Trenton where he serves as a priest. Upon this is an escallop shell, a symbol of St. James the Greater which is also divided by the same colors alternating in a manner known as “counterchanging”. The counterchanging is evocative of the conversion inherent in metanoia. The shell is charged with a heart that is a symbol of St. Vincent de Paul, the “apostle of charity”. The heart is similarly counterchanged as a further allusion to metanoia.

The upper third of the shield, called a “chief” is separated from the rest by a jagged division line suggesting the teeth of a saw because St. James the Less was martyred by being sawed in half. Then the two sides of the chief are also “counterchanged” from the field below. 

On the chief to the right is a silver (white) crescent moon which is a symbol of Our Lady so it alludes to the diocese of Trenton, St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore and the USA of whom Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the patroness. To the left, the violet (depicted in a stylized way) is the State flower of New Jersey. The armiger is a proud New Jerseyan.

The motto, “Go Teach All nations” is taken from the Sacred Scriptures from Matthew 28:19.

The whole achievement, instead of using the secular helm, mantle and crest is ensigned with the traditional galero, an ecclesiastical hat. It is black with one tassel pendant on either side of the shield as befits the priestly dignity.


In the United States the last Thursday in November is always observed as Thanksgiving Day. Ostensibly, it commemorates a 1621 event celebrating a good harvest shared by the new colonists arrived from Plymouth, England( now called “Pilgrims”) who came to these shores seeking religious and economic freedom and the Native American Wampanoags who lived here already. The observance as it exists now in the US and its Territories dates as far back as 1863 but having it fixed on the fourth Thursday in November occurred in 1941 under President Franklin Roosevelt. From 1939 to 1941 it had been fixed on the next to last Thursday in November for business reasons but a joint resolution in Congress changed it to the fourth Thursday in November where it has remained since.

Some armorial devices that are somewhat related to Thanksgiving include:

The first seal of the Plymouth Colony
The armorial bearings of a number of the families who sailed on the Mayflower
The coat of arms of Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony
The coat of arms of Plymouth, England
Armorial bearings of Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Armorial Bearings of Roman Catholic Deacons

I’ve have once again come across several images of the coats of arms of Deacons in the Roman Catholic Church on the internet which moves me to write, yet again, that:


One simply does NOT exist. None, nada, zilch, zip, bupkus. Anyone who asserts otherwise is a liar and should be horse whipped (with a horse whip).

In the Roman Catholic Church there are two types of Deacons. Transitional Deacons are ordained to that lowest rank in Holy Orders as a final step prior to their Presbyteral ordination. There are also those who are called to enter into ordained ministry as Deacons with the intent of remaining so permanently. For neither type is there an external heraldic ornament sanctioned by the Holy See, which is the only authority within the Catholic Church capable of making such a determination and assigning such an ornament.

Some of you are perhaps saying to yourselves, “No, hang on, Father, that’s not so. Deacons use a black galero that has no tassels on it.” Now, I want you to read the next sentence carefully.


In the Christian churches of the West, especially among those with a sacramental/liturgical style of worship such a heraldic ornament does exist in the Church of England. An entire system of hats for the use of the clergy of the Church of England was devised and adopted by the English College of Arms by an Earl Marshal’s Warrant of 1976. By extension, what is done in the Church of England is frequently, though not universally, done throughout the Anglican Communion. So, a black galero with no tassels is used heraldically by Deacons in the Anglican Tradition.

That has no effect on Roman Catholic Church heraldry.

Again, there is NO approved external ornament for Deacons in the Roman Catholic Church. Those who adopt the galero with no tassels are incorrect because it is an Anglican custom. Those who simply decide to make up out of whole cloth some other external ornament to function as a “Deacon’s crest” or to add a special augmentation to the shield of the arms of a Deacon like a chief indicating diaconal ministry are also quite wrong to do so. Those who claim such things are sanctioned by the Holy See are lying. Full stop.

So, what option is there for a Deacon? Well, for Transitional Deacons (a state which usually last no more than 12 months) they should wait until they are ordained Priest and ensign their arms with a Priest’s galero. For Permanent Deacons they have the option of using arms ensigned with helm, mantle and crest as laymen do (which is appropriate if they have descendants who will inherit the arms some day) or they may bear arms consisting of the shield and motto alone without any other ornament.

A coat of arms is a mark of identification not a perk to indicate your job or function. The Church has said very little on heraldry for clergy below the rank of Bishop and most of what we have by way of “rules” for the lower clergy comes from immemorial custom. Because the Permanent Diaconate was dormant for several centuries, including those centuries when heraldry developed, there are no customs for the arms of Permanent Deacons. It is hoped that the Holy See will address this at some point but until it does


A Gallery of Banality

In January several new Auxiliary Bishops have been ordained in the USA. Their choices regarding armorial bearings have been, shall we say, underwhelming. I am not commenting on the quality of the artwork, at least not for the moment. This post is concerned with the content and composition of these coats of arms from a heraldically correct viewpoint. Let’s have a look.

Most Rev. Timothy Freyer, Auxiliary of Orange, CA (ordained January 17)



Most Rev. Mark Brennan, Auxiliary of Baltimore, MD (ordained January 19)



Most Rev. Adam Parker, Auxiliary of Baltimore, MD (ordained January 19)


Gag. (and not entitled to the quarter of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher)

Most Rev. Gerard Battersby, Auxiliary of Detroit, MI (ordained January 25)



Most Rev. Robert Fisher, Auxiliary of Detroit, MI (ordained January 25)



“Christmas” Heraldry

Each year at this time I always seem to get involved in a conversation with at least one other heraldry enthusiast about coats of arms associated with Christmas or the Christmas season. Here are a few tidbits I offer for your amusement. (Keep in mind the ancient custom of attributed arms, that is, coats of arms attributed to people who were not necessarily armigerous themselves, especially if they lived prior to the advent of heraldry and/or coats of arms devised for and attributed to people who may or may not be fictitious!)

Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas)

Here is a a coat of arms recently devised by a friend for St. Nicholas


Here is another said to be of “Father Christmas”


The Three Wise Men (or Kings)

The arms attributed to Kaspar, Balthasaar and Melchior (depicted beautifully by the Italian heraldic artist, Marco Foppoli)


The Blessed Virgin Mary

A coat of arms attributed to the Mother of Jesus, Mary


Jesus (you know…the One whose birthday we’re celebrating?)

This is just one of many different attributed arms for Jesus, the Christ depicting the implements of His passion.

Arms of Christ

The Holy Family

A wonderful Christmas scene showing all the principal armigerous figures of the story of the Nativity with their corresponding attributed arms. (by daSilva)


Edmund Cardinal Szoka, RIP


His Eminence Edmund Cardinal Szoka, a priest of Marquette Michigan, Former Bishop of Gaylord, Michigan, Former Archbishop of Detroit, Michigan, Cardinal Priest of Sant’Andrea e Gregorio al Monte Celio, Former President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, Former President of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City-State and President-Emeritus of the Governorate of the Vatican City-State has passed away. His coat of arms underwent several changes as he moved from Gaylord, to Detroit to the Holy See. The last version of his arms is below. May he rest in peace.


Really? Again?

I know what you’re thinking. A blog…again Fr. Guy? Haven’t we been down this road before? Well, yes, we have but what I was always attempting to do with the other blogs was, frankly, too much. I don’t have the time to do a blog that is updated several times a day everyday. I don’t have the resources to do a blog that is a source of news and information about the Church, the USA, the world or anything else for that matter. I don’t have a lively enough interest in lots of different things to do a blog about, you know, lots of different things.

So, why am I betting (read: hoping) that the third time is a charm? Because this time I’ve decided to do a blog that I think will be more manageable. It’s about heraldry. The overriding passion, avocation really, of my life has been my abiding and ever-deepening interest in heraldry in general and ecclesiastical heraldry in particular. So, this blog is about just that: heraldry. Because that is a topic that elicits every reaction from enthusiastic agreement to mild amusement to searching for the quickest exit without making any sharp or jerking movements from those with whom I share it I know that it is never going to become anyone’s “go to” blog for anything. In addition, its not like heraldry has got breaking stories every hour of the day so there will be no need for me to attend to it all the time.

When there is something I want to write or something I want to share or something I want to criticize or something I want to bring to your attention, I will. For those of you who already like heraldry and have some knowledge of it that should be fun. For those of you who may be looking to learn more about heraldry I hope it will teach you a thing or two. For those who have just a passing interest in the subject and/or might be searching for information for a particular reason I hope this blog may prove helpful. For those of you who haven’t got the slightest interest in this topic: why are you still reading?

Oh! And for those wondering about the name. It is “heraldry” in one of the many translations into Latin that are considered acceptable.