Category Archives: Work of Other Artists

Grosseto

On August 9 the Most Rev. Giovanni Roncari, OFM. Cap. (71) Bishop of Pitigliano-Sovano-Obrbetello Italy was additionally installed as the Bishop of Grosetto, Italy. Henceforth, Grosseto is united to Pitigliano-Sovana-Orbetello in persona episcopi. His coat of arms, designed by Giuseppe Quattrociocchi is below:

The chief (upper third of the shield) contains the traditional symbol of all the various types of Franciscans, namely the crossed arms of Christ and Francis with a cross. The bridge recalls the place where the bishop hails from (San Piero a Ponti) and the star is for Our Lady. The inclusion of the Florentine fleur-de-lis is to recall the city of Florence where the bishop exercised a great deal of his priestly ministry.

The coat of arms is well done, despite the asymmetry of the star and fleur-de-lis. That bothers some people but can also work very well depending on the overall design and I think it does so here.

My only criticism is the inclusion of the small Tau Cross at the center of the episcopal cross standing behind the shield. As I have frequently written about on this blog I am of the opinion that the external ornaments in a heraldic achievement, which indicate rank, not identity, should not be seen as open to personalization. But, in the grand scheme of things that is a minor criticism at best. I particularly like the shape of the shield chosen as I think it works very well with what is depicted upon it.

Asidonia-Jerez

On July 31 Bishop José Rico Pavés, a bishop since 2012, was installed as the Bishop of Asidonia-Jerez (Jerez de la Frontera) Spain. His coat of arms is:

Generally speaking I think this is a nice coat of arms. The charges are clear and easy to discern and would be even if viewing the coat of arms greatly reduced, as on printed matter. The green portions of the lilies and the pomegranate don’t really break the tincture rule of no color on a color despite their being on a blue field because they are secondary additions to the primary charges (the blossoms of the lily and the fruit of the pomegranate themselves). Such little things can easily be tolerated.

The only real criticism I have is the notion of the anchor extending up onto the chief from the field. Charges, especially the principal charges like this one, aren’t supposed to overlap portions of the shield, especially in this instance where the shield is divided by having a chief. The chief itself is an ordinary and, as such, is considered to be placed over the upper portion of the blue field. Even if the anchor is blazoned as “overall” that doesn’t justify having it extend up to overlap the chief. In addition, it does actually violate the tincture rule of no metal on a metal since the whole body of the anchor is silver and it extends to a gold chief. Again, another good reason to have the anchor remain below the chief. Without counterchanging, it doesn’t really work so it comes off as a poor design decision.

I wonder why there is even a chief at all? Having the Sacred Heart on the anchor could have been enough justification to leave it red (on a silver anchor), or it could have been depicted all in gold and then the entire arms could have simply had a blue field.

Nevertheless, despite this one item, the rest of the coat of arms is, in my opinion, very nice.

Olympic Heraldry

Since 1894 there have been nine Presidents of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Five of them have also been armigerous in their own right. The first IOC President, Demetrius Vikelas, was not and neither were the fourth, Sigfrid Edström, the fifth, Avery Brundage, or the ninth and current IOC President, Thomas Bach.

Pierre, Baron de Coubertain, the “Father” of the modern Olympics. 2nd IOC President 1896-1925
Henri, Comte de Baillet-Latour 3rd IOC President 1925-1942
Michael Morris, Baron Killanin 6th IOC President 1972-1980
Juan Antonio, Marquess of Samaranch 7th IOC President 1980-2001
Jacques, Count Rogge 8th IOC President 2001-2013

Bishop Koenig of Wilmington

On July 13 the Most Rev. William Koenig (64) a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, NY will be ordained a bishop and installed as the 10th Bishop of Wilmington, Delaware. The coat of arms he has chosen to assume is illustrated below impaled with those of the See of Wilmington.

The arms of the See are based on those of the Lords De La Warr one of whom, Thomas West, was Governor of Virginia and for whom the state and river are named. The crosses allude to the arms of the Lords Baltimore, proprietors of Maryland because the diocese covers all of Delaware and the eastern Shore portions of Maryland. The gold lion borrows from the arms of Bl. Pius IX who erected the See.

While the new bishop’s name would lend itself easily to symbols of St. William the Abbot and a royal crown (the name Koenig means “king”) he has, somewhat disappointingly, decided to use arms that allude to various aspects of his priestly career. These are the typical “CV arms” against which I am always warning. American bishops are fixated on their coats of arms “telling the story” of their lives rather than simply doing what coats of arms are supposed to do: identify.

These arms aren’t horrible. They are merely disappointing. They could have been SO much better.

New Garter

On July 2 David Vines White (59) was appointed Garter Principal King of Arms at HM College of Arms in London. This is the most senior of the three Kings of Arms. He had previously been Somerset Herald and before that Rouge Croix Pursuivant. He succeeds Sir Thomas Woodcock who has served as Garter since 2010. Congratulations to the new Garter King of Arms!

Bishop Dell’Oro

On July 2 the Most Rev. Italo Dell’Oro, CRS (68) will be ordained titular bishop of Sucarda and Auxiliary Bishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas. The armorial bearings he is assuming are:

This is not my favorite design but it is not terrible either. The division line embattled and everything in chief look fine. I’m not fond of the kind of “landscape heraldry” depicted in base. Nevertheless, that type of heraldic design appeals to many and there are no errors in this design. What I dislike about it is simply a matter of taste which is purely subjective.

Bishop Golka of Colorado Springs

On June 29 the Most Rev. James Golka (54) a priest of the Diocese of Grand Island, Nebraska, will be ordained a bishop and installed as the third Bishop of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The coat of arms he is assuming is:

The green field with the gold and silver wavy barrulets represent the bishop’s home state of Nebraska and the Wood and Platte rivers. The pelican in its piety in chief is a symbol of the Eucharist and the sword, in base, a symbol of St. Michael, stands for the ministry of deliverance and healing. The star in base is a symbol of Our Lady. The cathedral in Grand Island is dedicated to the Nativity of mary. It is where the bishop received his Sacraments of Initation, was ordained a priest and served as Rector since 2016. The motto is taken from 1 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 1.

I have no desire to comment on the arms of the See of Colorado Springs. They are well established. The bishop’s personal arms have a good rationale for why the particular charges were chosen. It is a relatively simple design and clear and doesn’t violate any of the usual heraldic conventions. It’s not terribly exciting or impressive in my opinion but that is a very subjective assessment. Overall, I’d say, a nice coat of arms.

Monk & Priest

Fr. Pachomius Meade, OSB a monk and priest of Conception Abbey in Missouri is an artist by avocation. He is very interested in heraldry as well and has had occasion to design some very nice coats of arms. But, up until now, he had not adopted armorial bearings for himself. With my encouragement he eventually set about doing so and, in my opinion, took the right path which was to take his time and go through many draft ideas. He has finally settled on a design which I also told him was a striking and good one.

The explanation of the charges chosen for this design are in his own words:

The top third of the shield (chief) is made up of two charges (one repeated). It depicts a royal crown between two birds’ claws erased. The talons are designed so as to be obviously those of falcons. Heraldry often places leather straps (jess) and bells on falcon legs. I took the artistic license to show the feathers around the talon in a diagonal conical form, as several species of falcons display around their legs. The talons plus the crown together are a rebus for my religious name Pachomius, which in the Coptic language means “king’s falcon.” These charges on a chief make them, therefore, canting arms, which is to say the arms “speak” the name of the armiger. Additionally, the base of the chief – which is usually a straight line – is enarched, a very simple variation on the line. I liked the idea of an elegant variant such as this.  Other than the stylistic choice, on a personal level I like that it is Romanesque, which is the style of my abbey’s basilica and is a subtle nod to the structure of a church.  

The lower two thirds of the shield depict smaller white shields (escutcheons) on a green field. The repeated charge spread evenly on a field in heraldry is called semy or semé, meaning “seeded.” This is a feature of heraldry that I particularly love and what was lacking in some of my original ideas for a coat of arms. The charge of a white shield without a charge of its own is a traditional symbol for a painter or heraldist. Probably my most obvious talent since I was a child has been art and it seemed like a no-brainer to have this charge. Again, there’s nothing more to it than that, but my own theological reflection on this part of the shield can also be that monastic life is called a white martyrdom – to distinguish from red martyrdom – and the spiritual combat of this charism. My surname is Meade, which is a meadow, and a green field makes sense (although, I believe my last name is really an Anglicized Gaelic word that had a completely unrelated definition).”  

I think he has come up with a clear bold design. The symbolism of the charges makes sense. He kept the overall design somewhat simple. The choice of tinctures is not only good from the point of view of symbolism they are aesthetically pleasing. The priest’s galero above the shield symbolizes his priesthood while the chaplet (rosary) encircling the shield is the accepted heraldic external ornament indicative of the armiger being a Consecrated Religious, in this case, a professed monk.

I say, “Well done!”. Incidentally, the artwork is by Fr. Pachomius as well.

DO NOT FOLLOW THIS EXAMPLE!

Recently, while taking a short trip for some post-Easter R&R I went to visit friends in western Pennsylvania. I found myself in the town of Loretto, PA where I had attended college at St. Francis University (but in my day it was still just St. Francis College). In that town is the fine parish church of St. Michael, built entirely at the expense of Charles M. Schwab, the US Steel president whose summer residence was located in Loretto. His former mansion is now the motherhouse of the TOR Franciscans who run the university. Schwab generously built the fine romanesque revival structure and donated it to the parish. Andrew Carnegie donated the church’s pipe organ. Some time ago the church was designated a minor basilica. It’s churchyard is the resting place of its founder, Father (Prince) Demetrius Gallitzin.

While looking around the lovely structure which has been spruced up since the the days when I occasionally saw it as a student some 37 years ago I noted in a side chapel a large display of the basilica’s coat of arms…and almost vomited.

What a poor coat of arms for the purpose intended. In fact, it is simply the Altoona-Johnstown diocesan coat of arms with the base changed to have the arms of St. John Paul II (who bestowed the dignity of basilica on the church) shoved in as well. The motto is the one used by the bishop at the time the church was raised to basilican rank.

The fess with three plates is borrowed from the arms of William Penn. The two charges in chief represent the cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona and the co-cathedral of St. John Gualbert in Johnstown. The cross in base is borrowed from the coat of arms of the aforementioned Demetrius Gallitzin. Of course the ombrellino and crossed keys are typical external ornaments of a minor basilica.

But what a complete lack of creativity this design displays. Instead of alluding to the diocese or to the pope who bestowed the honor it is the arms of the diocese and the arms of that pope shoved together. There is absolutely nothing in there to identify the basilica as being dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, or being located in Loretto, or to the Franciscan heritage of that place. The slender line dividing the silver Gallitzin cross from the arms of John Paul II is also heraldically unsupportable. From beginning to end this thing is junk.

It was so horribly disappointing to see this is what was used. The raising of the church to the rank of a basilica occurred only in 1996. By that time the internet was an easy place to find the right person or the right guidance on the design and creation of a fitting coat of arms. There is no excuse for the horrible result they ended up with, except the laziness or arrogance of those in charge of that decision.

This basilica coat of arms is useful for one thing and one thing only: to serve as an example of what not to do!

Bishop of the Virgin Islands

On April 17, 2021 the Most Rev. Jerome Feudjio (65) a priest of the Diocese of St. Thomas, American Virgin Islands was ordained a bishop and installed as the sixth Bishop of St. Thomas. The bishop is a native of Cameroon. The armorial bearings he has assumed are:

These are placed here for your information with no further comment. (I’m feeling charitable today)

Another Presbyteral Coat of Arms

Sometimes, fate interrupts the desire for armorial bearings. This armiger was having a coat of arms designed for him. Sadly, the heraldist working on it for him passed away. With much of the work done but not yet finalized he came to me requesting my help. The original design was very busy with many charges included and a bit too liberal a use of various tinctures. (Keeping a coat of arms to fewer tinctures is always a good idea).

I didn’t feel as though the whole thing could be scrapped to start over. Rather, I tried instead to clean up the design a bit while still maintaining the original ideas. I also made a few suggestions about tinctures. Working with the armiger we were able to come up with something with which he was pleased and also with which I was, at least, satisfied. It’s not the achievement I would have designed had I had the opportunity to start from scratch. Nevertheless, it is a decent, if crowded, design and there aren’t any egregious violations of tincture rules.

I must admit it was odd working on a project that had been started and brought rather far along by someone else. It was also an odd feeling to make changes to something that another heraldist had done and, being deceased, couldn’t defend or explain his choices. Still, it was a privilege to help this particular armiger out and, I think, we ended up with a rather nice coat of arms for him. (…if I do say so myself)

Bishop Kulick of Greensburg, PA

On February 11, 2021 the Most Rev. Larry James Kulick (55) a priest of the Greensburg, Pennsylvania diocese will be ordained a bishop and installed as the 6th Bishop of Greensburg.

The arms he is assuming are:

The Bishop’s family is of Slovak origin hence the clear resemblance of his personal arms to those of Slovakia with the addition of two garbs of wheat, traditionally used in Catholic heraldry as an allusion to the Eucharist. Really, he has simply taken the arms of Slovakia in their entirety to use as his own coat of arms. It can be argued that the inclusion of the two garbs differences his personal arms from those of Slovakia. That would not be entirely untrue. However, it isn’t, in my opinion, a sufficient enough difference. Some thought could have been given to a change of tincture as well.

It is noteworthy that the double-barred cross which is the principal charge in the Slovak arms is also repeated in the arms of the See. In the arms of the Diocese of Greensburg the double-barred, or patriarchal, cross is taken from the arms traditionally associated with the Order of St. Benedict and are included as an allusion to the Benedictine monks of St. Vincent Archabbey who have been present in that part of Pennsylvania since 1846 and have ministered to Catholics there since before the foundation of the diocese in 1951. In fact, the Benedictines founded the cathedral parish before it even was a cathedral and graciously gave it back once it had been designated as the cathedral church. In addition, the monks run a major seminary which is the seminary the new bishop attended. So that particular charge can have multiple significance for the armiger.

The explanation included in the worship program for the event says among other things that the colors have significance for the armiger. One sentence says, “The darker red at the top of the shield represents the blood of martyrs, and the lighter red below it represents fire; together they symbolize the martyrdom of St. Lawrence, Bishop Kulick’s patron saint.” To that I can only add that there are no shades of difference in heraldic colors and no set meanings to the what a particular color means. Another section of the explanation says this (somewhat unbelievably), “The blue shadow on top of the hills symbolizes how Christ illuminates the world, and blue is the color of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the diocesan patroness as Our Lady of the Assumption. The shadows and highlights at the top of the mountains where the red and blue come together also represent St. Joseph.”

Really? Shadows and highlights represent St. Joseph? How? And how, specifically, is a highlight blazoned? So, while I don’t doubt that all these meanings are significant to the armiger, or that at least he thinks they are, but this isn’t heraldry. Such subtleties may be present in the mind of a graphic artist but not in the science of heraldry. This is all a bit too “over the top” and focuses on the wrong things.

The coat of arms was done by Sig. Poletti of Italy who also did the coat of arms of Bishop Kulick’s predecessor, Bishop Malesic, now of Cleveland.

Bishop Bonnar of Youngstown

On January 12th, the Most Rev. David Bonnar (58) a priest of Pittsburgh will be ordained a bishop and installed as the 6th Bishop of Youngstown, Ohio. The coat of arms he is assuming is:

As per the diocesan website the explanation of his personal arms, impaled with those of the See are: “The chequy blue and silver fess appears in the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s coat of arms representing his diocese of origin.  The seven point blue star recalls the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom Bishop Bonnar entrusts his new pastoral ministry.  The pomegranate represents the motto of the Bishop that all the grains of this fruit are united in an only body, the mystical body of the Church.  The field of gold, the first among the noble metals, symbolizes the first of the virtues – the faith – which makes all believe in the salvation given by the Lord.”

The combinations of tinctures are pleasing. The overall design is simple: a complex ordinary with something above and something below, rather like the arms of the See as well. The charges are relatively clear even when reduced.

Bishop Byrne of Springfield, MA

On December 14 the Most Rev. William Draper Byrne (56) a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC will be ordained a bishop and installed as the Tenth Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts. His personal coat of arms impaled with those of the See of Springfield (below) depicts a paschal candle, a symbol of the Light of Christ to the world and also of sacrifice (the candle is consumed as it burns, which also makes a slight pun on the Bishop’s name). The crescent is taken from the arms of the See of Washington, DC and also from those of his seminary, the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

The bishop designed his own arms in consultation with another priest of Washington, DC and had them depicted by an artist who copied the style of the late Anthony W.C. Phelps of Cleveland, Ohio. That style became popular in Washington when it was used by Cardinal Hickey (who had previously been Bishop of Cleveland) and has been copied since by a number of bishops who have come from the Archdiocese of Washington. Mr. Phelps died in 2005.