Bruno Heim Birthday

March 5 marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of the man many people, myself included, consider to have been “the” master of Catholic ecclesiastical heraldry, the late Archbishop Bruno Bernard Heim. He literally wrote the book on the subject starting with the publication of “Wappenbrauch und Wappenrecht in der Kirche” in 1947 which was published in 1949 in a French edition, “Coutumes et Droit Héraldiques de l’Église” and finally completely revamped, expanded, lavishly illustrated and published in English in 1978 as “Heraldry in the Catholic Church”. He helped revive the art and science of heraldry in the Church which is, sadly, once again in desperate need of some renewal. But his heraldic work was actually a sideline to his ordained ministry and his work in the Holy See’s diplomatic corps where he served in several posts concluding as Pro-Nuncio to the Court of St. James’s in London. He died March 18, 2003 at age 92. Requiescat in Pace.

Third Priestly Arms

Recent days have been busy and I have now completed a trifecta of sacerdotal arms all, as it happens, for priests who are also Benedictine monks. They’re from different communities and made their requests independently of each other. In addition, they have all proven to be men of exceeding patience because their projects kept getting sidelined by commissions I’d received to prepare a coat of arms for a new bishop. Those commissions are always time sensitive so all other considerations would have to go by the way side whenever I’d receive one.

Finding a window in the calendar I decided to make the extra effort to complete this three long-standing commissions. This is the last of the three.

These arms reflect the armiger’s community, apostolate, family history and monastic name. The inclusion of the chaplet encircling the shield indicates that he is a Professed Religious in vows and the galero indicates he is ordained to the priesthood. Not all Religious armigers choose to use the chaplet, especially if they are also ordained priests. It is a matter of choice.

In fact, it is worth pointing out that while there are specific external ornaments which may be used by an armiger to indicate what rank they hold, or honors they have received, none of these are required to be used. If an armiger should so desire, he/she may simply bear a shield and motto, or indeed even just the shield alone. I mention that last part because everyone in ecclesiastical circles seems to make such a big deal out of the motto. (Bishops especially). Mottoes are, strictly speaking, not really part of the coat of arms. It has become customary to display one’s motto in the achievement of arms but that, too, is not necessary.

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)

Armorial Bearings of a Priest

Here is one of my more recent commissions. It is the armorial bearings of a priest who is also a Professed Religious in vows. The black galero at the top of the achievement indicates his status as a priest. The chaplet – not often seen these days in heraldry – is used in the achievement as an external ornament indicating a person in Religious Vows. It is often seen in the arms of an Abbess (along with the veiled crozier) who, unlike an Abbot, does not make use of the galero. It is also seen in the armorial achievements of Professed Knights of Malta, whose Knights of Justice are Professed Religious in the Roman Catholic Church.

This armiger is both a monk and a priest. The motto is taken from the Holy Rule of St. Benedict.

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.

Lieutenant of the Order of Malta

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, more commonly known as the Order of Malta, is currently in the charge not of a Prince and Grand Master but of a Lieutenant of the Grand Master, elected by the Council Complete of State. He presides over the Sovereign Council of the Order directing the Order’s governance during his tenure in office. This situation is not quite as unusual as it may first appear to be. In the last 100 years there have been five occasions when the Order did not elect a Prince and Grand Master, but was governed by a Lieutenant of the Grand Master. None of them went on to be elected Prince and Grand Master with the exception of Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto. Also, I do not take notice here of the four men who served as Lieutenant ad interim after the death of and before the election of a Grand Master.

Fra’ Pio Franchi De’ Cavalieri (1929-1931 during the illness of Grand Master Thun und Hohenstein)

Fra’ Antoine Hercolani Fava Simonetti (1951-1955) *

Fra’ Ernesto Paternò Castello di Carcaci (1955-1962)

Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto (2017-2018)

Fra’ Marco Luzzago who is presently the Lieutenant of the Grand Master elected in 2020.

*NOTE: Hercolani Fava Simonetti served as the Lieutenant to the Grand Magistry and the others had the title Lieutenant of the Grand Master.

Archbishop Farrell of Dublin

On December 29, 2020 His Holiness Pope Francis appointed the Most Rev. Dermot Farrell (66), a priest of the Diocese of Meath and since 2018 Bishop of Ossory, Ireland to be the 51st Metropolitan Archbishop of Dublin. He succeeds Abp. Diarmuid Martin.

He had already assumed a coat of arms as Bishop of Ossory. The image below is not official but was a cut and paste job by me to see what his arms as archbishop will look like. In Ireland the archbishops of Armagh (who is the Primate of All Ireland) and of Dublin (who is the Primate of Ireland) use arms of the See that appear identical because this stems from a time when all archbishops tended to use arms depicting a pall (pallium) and a cross as symbols of being an archbishop. The archiepiscopal insignia then later became associated with certain metropolitical & archiepiscopal sees and it remains so to this day, including some (like the Church of Ireland Diocese of Dublin, or the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury) where it seems particularly incongruous. This is because the pallium is worn by Roman Catholic Metropolitan Archbishops as a symbol of sharing in the ministry of the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) and, as such, they receive it from him as a sign of their office.

Below we see what Archbishop Farrell’s coat of arms may well look like (or something close to this). I note that his predecessor, App. Martin, did not use a coat of arms.

Thomas Becket

St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was assassinated by nobles who served King Henry II of England in 1170. They entered the cathedral and killed him. His conflict with the king centered around the Constitutions of Clarendon, a series of laws Henry wished to impose to check the increase in power the Church gained under the rather chaotic reign of his predecessor King Stephan. Becket opposed these laws as the state over reaching into the internal affairs of the Church. Their conflict became more heated until Henry supposedly (though not definitely) was to have said to his barons, “Will no one rid me of this meddling clerk?”. It’s doubtful he actually said that and if he did it certainly would have been in French since Henry II didn’t speak English. This was taken to mean he desired to see Becket gone, so they went to the cathedral on December 29th and killed him.

This all happened before the advent of systematized heraldry as we know it. becket certainly did not have a coat of arms. But, according to the long-standing traditional custom of attributing coats of arms to great persons after the fact a coat of arms was devised for him. It appears in many places erroneously as the coat of arms of St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury. While it certainly was not his actual armorial bearings it is, nevertheless, a very handsome achievement especially impaled with those of the See of Canterbury.

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.

A Priest Among the Cardinals

On November 28, 2020 Pope Francis created new cardinals. Among them was Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap (86) who, for the past forty years, has served as the Preacher of the Pontifical Household. Given his advanced age Cardinal Cantalamessa requested to be dispensed from the requirement of receiving episcopal ordination prior to receiving his red hat. While it is not unprecedented it is still rather rare for a Cardinal of the Roman Church not to be a bishop as well. (Contrary to an erroneous idea that never seems to die there were no “lay cardinals” in the Church. All the cardinals who were members of the College of Cardinals previously but had not received ordination were, nevertheless, tonsured clerics and, therefore, NOT members of the laity).

Following the correct customs which are sometimes ignored by the foolish or the ignorant (see: the coat of arms of the late Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ), Cardinal Cantalamessa ensigns his coat of arms with the scarlet cardinal’s galero but does not make use of the episcopal cross behind the shield because he lacks the episcopal character. As a cardinal, he may make use of pontifical insignia when celebrating Mass solemnly (the mitre, the ring and the crozier) and he may wear a pectoral cross. He also has the option of wearing scarlet cardinal’s robes or his own Religious Habit. It was interesting to note that at the Public Consistory at which he was created a cardinal he wore his habit with a surplice and did not wear the scarlet choir dress of a cardinal.

Ad Multos Annos!

Archbishops of Washington, DC

Here are the armorial bearings of the Archbishops of Washington, DC almost all of whom have been elevated to Cardinal with the notable exception of the first one, Archbishop Michael Curley who was also the Archbishop of Baltimore. At first the Archdiocese of Washington was part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Later, a dual archdiocese of Baltimore-Washington was created with Curley leading it. Eventually, Washington became a separate archdiocese but Curley was still appointed its archbishop making him, simultaneously, the archbishop of the oldest American diocese (Baltimore) and the newest at that time (Washington). A short time later Washington, DC received its own residential archbishop with the appointment of Patrick O’Boyle.

There is no coat of arms for Theodore McCarrick who is no longer a cardinal or even a cleric. A blank shield is used in place of his armorial bearings but his time in Washington in still noted because under Mr. McCarrick’s tenure the armorial bearings of the archdiocese were changed and that change, despite McCarrick’s disgrace, has been employed by his two successors as well. One can only hope that at some point in the future the original coat of arms of the archdiocese will be adopted again.

Archbishop Michael Curley (the archdiocesan arms hadn’t been adopted yet and Curley impaled his arms with those of Baltimore)
Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle
William Cardinal Baum
James Cardinal Hickey
Archdiocesan arms changed by Mr. Theodore McCarrick
Donald Cardinal Wuerl
Cardinal-Designate Wilton Gregory

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

On October 24 it was announced that the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem for the last four years, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, the former Custos of the Holy Land had been named by the Pope as the Patriarch of Jerusalem for the Latins. Accordingly, His Beatitude’s armorial bearings were updated to include another row of green tassels for a total of thirty tassels suspended from the galero. This rendering, as also the original rendering, was done by Marco Foppoli.

Bishop Grob

On November 13 the Most Rev. Jeffrey S. Grob (59) a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago will be ordained as the Titular Bishop of Abora and Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. The armorial bearings he is assuming are:

The armorial bearings of Bishop Grob symbolize his origins, his personal devotion and the place in which he has spent his ministry as a priest. The field is Azure and the main charge is a large gold (yellow) plow blade facing the viewer. This not only alludes to the ministry of spreading the Gospel as symbolized by plowing a field to prepare for seed to be sown but is an allusion to the bishop’s early life growing up on a Wisconsin dairy farm.

Above the plow blade are a silver (white) crescent, a symbol of Our Lady under her title of the Immaculate Conception which is the patronal feast of the USA. The two silver (white) fleur-de-lis represent several things. First, they are a symbol of St. Joseph to whom the bishop has a special devotion as a kind of patron saint because he was born on the Solemnity of St. Joseph (March 19). The fleur-de-lis is a stylized version of the lily and St. Joseph is often depicted holding a staff from which lilies are blossoming. Second, they allude to St. John XXIII who used them in his own coat of arms. The bishop has a devotion to this great 20th Century saint. Finally, there are two fleur-de-lis in the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Chicago where the bishop has served as a priest and will now serve as a bishop.

The motto below the shield is “Jesus The Vine”

It was a great privilege for me to design Bishop Grob’s coat of arms in consultation with him and to emblazon it.

Bishop Birmingham

On November 13 the Most Reverend Kevin M. Birmingham (49) a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago will be ordained as the Titular Bishop of Dolia and Auxiliary bishop of Chicago.

Bishop Birmingham’s armorial bearings represent his family name and symbols of his own devotional life. The division of the shield uses a jagged line called “indented” in heraldry and is borrowed from the arms associated with the family Bermingham and which is also used in several places that bear the name Birmingham. 

The upper half is green with a gold (yellow) chalice and white priest’s stole. These symbols represent priestly life and ministry and specifically act as an allusion to St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests to whom the bishop has had a lifelong devotion. On the ends of the stole are a red fleur-de-lis. This symbol is associated with France where St. John Vianney lived and died and are also borrowed from the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Chicago where the bishop has spent his life and priestly ministry and now will continue with his episcopal ministry.

The lower half shows three red roses on a silver (white) background. They represent Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. In connection with the appearance of Our Lady to Juan Diego the miraculous blooming of roses in December occurred. Two days after his ordination the bishop traveled to Mexico City and celebrated his second Mass as a priest at the Basilica of OL of Guadalupe. Throughout his priesthood he has had a strong devotion to Mary under this title.

The motto below the shield is “Tend My People” (adapted from John 21:16)

I was privileged to design and emblazon the armorial bearings of Bishop Birmingham.