Bishop Fernandes of Columbus

The Most Rev. Earl Fernandes (49) a priest of Cincinnati, Ohio will be ordained and installed as the 13th Bishop of Columbus , Ohio on May 31. The arms he is assuming makes a clear reference to the archdiocesan arms of Cincinnati by the inclusion of the plow. The escallop shells refer to Baptism and to the Holy Trinity.

A perfectly acceptable coat of arms, designed by Renato Poletti.

New Seattle Auxiliary

On May 3 the Most Rev. Franklin Schuster (50) was ordained Titular Bishop of Hirina and Auxiliary to the Archbishop of Seattle. The coat of arms he assumed, designed and executed by Renato Poletti, is:

As is my usual custom I will not undertake to critique the artwork.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with dividing a shield per pale with two different tinctures when it is done in this manner with a single charge on each side of the field it has the overall, albeit unintended, effect of making the shield look like impaled arms. Two coats of arms marshaled together on the same shield is the custom for married armigerous persons or, especially in the case of ecclesiastical heraldry, an indication of personal arms and arms of jurisdiction. These are frequently marshaled together to indicate the “marriage” of the armiger with the body over which he presides.

A field of two colors divided per pale would be seen as a single coat of arms if the charges on it were imposed overall and “crossed” the line of impalement illustrating that the two colors are making a single field.

In addition, a silver (white) candle on a gold (yellow) field violates the tincture rule unnecessarily. This rule has many exceptions to it but it may be ignored when there is a good reason. I don’t really see such a reason here. While individual armigers often assign a particular meaning to the use of a specific tincture there is no set and established symbolism behind any color in heraldry. Therefore, their use isn’t a necessity. In the case of this design a blue field could have been used alone with both the silver (white) candle upon it and silver or gold star simply placed in chief without losing the idea behind the design, namely, that it represents both Christmas (the star) and Easter (the candle).

That would have made for a simpler design that was quite effective while, at the same time, avoiding the tincture issues as well as the appearance of impaled arms.

An opportunity missed. The overall coat of arms is pleasant looking and it isn’t really “bad”. It’s just, like so very many other coats of arms we see among bishops today, not as good as it could have, or should have been.

Attributed Arms of Jesus Christ

Attributed arms are Western European coats of arms given retrospectively to persons real or fictitious who died before the start of the age of heraldry in the latter half of the 12th C. Arms were assigned to the knights of the round table, to Biblical figures, to Roman and Greek heroes, and to kings and popes who had not historically borne arms.

The same is true even for divine beings. Arms have been attributed to Jesus Christ by a number of different people. One such example is below:

This image, which I found on the internet, contains many of the traditional elements of arms attributed to Christ. These consist mainly of the instruments of His passion and death. It is, necessarily, rather over-crowded and busy but still rendered well and arranged in a manner that can be called traditionally heraldic. Many would, perhaps, prefer a version like the one depicted below:

May these holy days prove spiritually fruitful to all those who observe them. May you have a Happy Easter!

Archbishop Fabre of Louisville

On March 30 the Most Rev. Shelton Fabre (58), a priest of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and formerly Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana was installed as the 12th Archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky.

His armorial bearings (below) depict the arms of the See impaled with his personal coat of arms assumed at the time that he became Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans in 2006. I don’t much care for the arms of the See of Louisville but that’s just tough luck for me. There is nothing wrong with them. Rather it’s a matter of personal taste. The same is true for the Archbishop’s personal arms: I don’t happen to care for them but that’s just my tough luck. Again, no egregious heraldic errors. I do think it is a shame that both fields are azure as there is little contrast between the two impalements but that’s life.

Two For The Big Apple

On March 1 two new auxiliary bishops were ordained for the Archdiocese of New York. They are the Most Rev. John Samuel Bonnici (57), Titular Bishop of Arindela and the Most Rev. Joseph Armando Espaillat (45), Titular Bishop of Tagarbala. Their armorial bearings, rendered by Sig. Renato Poletti, are as follows:

Benvenuto, Archbishop Renna!

The Most Rev. Luigi Renna (56) originally a priest of Andria, Italy and from 2016 until now Bishop of Cerignola-Ascoli Satriano, Italy will be translated and promoted to Metropolitan Archbishop of Catania and installed in that see on February 19, 2022.

The archbishop’s coat of arms is:

The field of silver stands for transparency of action. The crown of thorns recalls the relic of the holy Thorn kept in the cathedral at Andria. Rising from the crown is a branch terminating in a pomegranate symbolizing charity and, because of the tightly packed seeds inside the fruit, symbolizes the ecclesial communion of the Church. The blue fess is charged with three silver seven-pointed stars alludes to Our Lady and her virginity, before, during and after the Birth of Christ.

The motto, “Building In Charity”, is from Ephesians 4:16. It was a passage of Scripture used in the Office of Readings on the day he received word he was to be named a bishop in 2015.

The arms were designed by Sig. Renato Poletti.

Farewell, Good and Faithful Servant

Today, February 15, 2022 the Archdiocese of Catania in Sicily bade farewell to the Archbishop since 2002, the Most Rev. Salvatore Gristina (75). He will be succeeded on February 19 by Archbishop-Designate Luigi Renna. Gristina was born June 23, 1946 in Sciara and ordained a priest by St. paul VI in 1970. Named an auxiliary bishop of Palermo in 1992 by St. John Paul II he was consecrated by Salvatore Cardinal Pappalardo. In 1999 he became Bishop of Acireale until 2002 when he was elevated to Metropolitan Archbishop of Catania.

His armorial bearings were designed by the late Andrea Cardinal Lanza di Montezemolo.

Toledo Auxiliary

Francisco César García Magán (59) a priest of Toledo, Spain was ordained as the Titular Bishop of Scebatiana and Auxiliary of Toledo on January 15.

The design of his arms is a bit amateurish and cliched; four quarters each with a symbol. The problem with that is that while it might seem an attractive idea from the point of view of design, affording four chances to include different symbols, the idea of quartered arms implies four separate coats of arms that have been marshaled together on the same shield by the method of quartering.

It is, as I said, an amateur’s mistake to think that a newly assumed coat of arms may start out being a shield divided into four quarters each bearing something different. Having said that the new bishop’s arms are aesthetically pleasant and the symbols used are, at least, appropriate.

In the first quarter the Jerusalem cross is used not to symbolize the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher. That cross, used by that order, is not exclusive to it. Here it represents the Passion of the Lord. The second quarter alludes to the Spanish territory of Castile. The third quarter is symbolic of Our Lady (star of the sea) and the fourth quarter alludes to justice and to Canon Law, the academic color for which is green.

Epiphany: The Attributed Arms of the Magi

We see here the attributed coats of arms of the Three Magi, or Wise Men who are traditionally named Kaspar, Melchior and Balthazar. Of course, we don’t really know their names and they also existed before heraldry did. In fact, some Biblical scholars question whether or not they even existed at all or are merely symbolic. We also don’t know from the Scriptures that there were three of them, only that they brought three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It is assumed, safely I think, that they each bore one gift so that there must have been three of them.

This version of their arms is nicely rendered by Marco Foppoli.

Bishop dos Santos

The Most Rev. Joel Maria dos Santos (55) a priest of the archdiocese of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, was ordained Titular Bishop of Thenae and Auxiliary Bishop of Belo Horizonte on December 18, 2021.

His coat of arms is rather nice. It’s clear with a simple, if not a bit haphazard arrangement of the charges. The principal symbol represents the Holy Trinity while the star is for Our Lady and the sword and book a reference to St. Paul. The color scheme is good and the tinctures and metals are a good combination while not going nuts with multiple tinctures.

A very nice coat of arms. Bravo!

Archbishop Boland’s Excellent Example

One of the better coats of arms borne by an American prelate in the 20th Century belonged to the Most Rev. Thomas Aloysius Boland, the 6th Bishop and 2nd Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey from 1952-1974. Boland had been a priest of Newark and served as Auxiliary Bishop there from 1940-1947 and then was translated to the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey as its 2nd Bishop from 1947-1952. Archbishop Boland retired from office in 1974 and died in 1979.

His very nice, simple and stylish coat of arms impaled very well with the equally simple and well-designed armorial bearings of the See of Newark. The contrast in tinctures and the composition of the charges made for an excellent overall appearance. Of course, in the time when he became a bishop and assumed these arms it was still the custom to include the mitre and crozier in the achievement of a bishop.