More Variety

Another in this kind of series I’m doing on single armigers with various versions of their coats of arms. This time it is Elizabeth II, well, really the British Sovereign regardless of who it is. The first is a “small” version. You can see this one carved in stone on the facade of Buckingham Palace but it shows up most frequently on Letters Patent for a grant of arms.

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The second is a kind of “middle version” and it is versions like this frequently used by the government on documents and signage.

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The third is, of course, the “large” or full armorial achievement.

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Next is the Royal arms as used in Scotland (same sovereign but a different version of the arms).

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Fifth is the Royal arms OF Scotland as opposed to the Royal arms of the U.K. as used IN Scotland.

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Finally, one used by the sovereign for the Duchy of Lancaster. (By the way even though the Queen is a woman she is still the “Duke” of Lancaster).

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Varying Versions

A recent Facebook post of mine on the arms of three English Kings of Arms on a College of Arms devisal for the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama piqued my interest about how some armigers employ different versions, not just renderings by different artists but actual different versions, of their armorial achievements. Sometimes this reflects added honors; sometimes the exercise of a new or different office (appointed or elected); sometimes it’s a version to be used specifically on certain occasions or under specific circumstances or only for use within a particular group, etc.

One of the Kings of Arms whose coat of arms appeared in that post was the late, great John Brooke-Little. Here we see his full achievement as Norroy & Ulster King of Arms:

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Brook-Little’s own personal coat of arms were used by him without any extras. Here the arms are rendered by Anthony Wood:

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In addition, we see that sometime he added quite a bit to the achievement to indicate offices held such as a bookplate depicting his coat of arms and banner as Richmond Herald (1967-1980) including both the Richmond Herald badge and the badge from when he had been Bluemantle Pursuivant (1956-1967):

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Finally I include one probably not seen by many: a version of his arms impaled with those of The Heraldry Society which he founded and served for many years as chairman and later as president. This last one was simply for use within that Society:

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All his life his own coat of arms remained as it is depicted in the second image. In other words he did not “change” his coat of arms. However, throughout his life and career he did employ various versions of his achievement some of which included personal honors, some ornaments of office and others additions for private use. This is a good thing to know about and an idea that many interested in heraldry, especially the various uses for a coat of arms, too often overlook. A coat of arms as a personal mark of identification may be employed in various ways to suit the various things one does in life. The armorial achievement does not have to be singular and include everything from every aspect of the life of the armiger. To be sure there are those who prefer this “maximum display” theory. However, an equally meritorious theory is one that makes use of varying versions or varying achievements suited to the time, place, group or activity in which the armiger is engaged.

Here is another example, again from the English College of arms, using the coat of arms of Sir Henry Paston-Bedingfeld, Bt. which are:

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Sir Henry, when he was still just plain old “Mister” served the College as Rouge Croix Pursuivant from 1983-1993 and the as York Herald from 1993-2010. In that latter capacity and prior to the death of his father and his inheriting the title “Baronet” he used the following achievement:

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Sir Henry was appointed Norroy & Ulster King of Arms in 2010 and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2014. Here is a version of the shield of his arms from that time:

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Finally, another example of a different version for private use and also only for a set period of time. From 2012-2013, for just a year Sir Henry served as Master of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners and impaled his arms with the arms of the Company for use in that capacity while at the same time also using the version above and the version in the first photo:

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Again we see that he maintained the personal arms he had inherited from his father and did not “change” his coat of arms. Rather, he chose to display it in varying versions to suit the role of the moment or group.

The world at large already, for the most part, sees heraldry as effete but there are many within the (for lack of a better term) heraldic community, that is to say, the rather small group of people in the world who account themselves heraldic enthusiasts, who, through their own ignorance, misunderstand the concept I’m illustrating here. The advent of the internet has increased the possibility for communication between such enthusiasts throughout the world but has also made for a rash of self-appointed heraldic “experts” who don’t wish to engage in any scholarly pursuit of the heraldic arts and sciences and, either accidentally or purposefully, seek to limit the possibilities for heraldic display accusing anyone who deviates from their own preconceived notions as guilty of self aggrandizement.

It strikes me as slightly ironic that in a modern world that eschews heraldry as an anachronistic pretense anyone possessing a coat of arms themselves could accuse others of self aggrandizement. Then again, ignorance and irony can, at times, be seen to be cousins.

St. Benedict’s Abbey, Still River

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The monastic community of St. Benedict in Still River, Massachusetts decided recently to modify their existing coat of arms which was originally designed by the late, great, Dom Wilfrid Bayne, OSB of St. Anselm’s Abbey in Rhode Island. The coat of arms was designed some sixty plus years ago for the St. Benedict Center on Bow and Arrow streets in Cambridge, MA which was the origin of the community that eventually grew into St. Benedict’s Abbey today. There was originally no external ornament in the achievement. The community simply bore a shield with the coat of arms.

The decision was undertaken recently to add an abbatial crozier as an external ornament to bring the achievement into conformity with what is usual for a monastery with the rank of Abbey. While it is the usual custom to depict a sudarium, or veil, pendant from the crozier in the coat of arms of an abbot usually when depicting the arms of an abbey, a corporate body, the sudarium is omitted.

Bishop of Parramatta

On June 16, 2016 the Most Rev. Vincent Long Van Nguyen, OFM Conv, formerly Auxiliary of Melbourne, was installed as Bishop of Parramatta, Australia succeeding Archbishop Anthony Fisher, OP of Sydney.

His coat of arms (below) was assumed in 2011 when he became a bishop and is now impaled with the arms of his See. The design of his personal arms was undertaken by me with Mr. Richard d’Apice, AM, KCHS and rendered then as now by Mr. Sandy Turnbull both of the Australian Heraldry Society.

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Newest Addition to the Library

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This arrived in the post today: Heraldisches Handbuch der Katholischen Kirche by Fr. Simon Petrus, O.Praem. It was published this year. A very handsome volume unfortunately not published in English but only in German. It is available from Battenberg publishers. (ISBN: 978-3-86646-128-4) It is also available through Amazon.

Archbishop Hebda

On May 14, Bernard Hebda, former bishop of Gaylord, Michigan and, most recently Coadjutor Archbishop of Newark (due to succeed in two more months on the resignation of Abp. Myers) was instead installed as the Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota. His arms are:

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The blue, seven-pointed star at the top right of the shield signifies Mary and Archbishop Hebda’s placement of his pastoral ministry under her protection. The elderberry tree symbolizes Archbishop Hebda’s Polish ancestry. The tree is widely found in southeastern Poland, from where Archbishop Hebda’s paternal grandparents emigrated. The tree’s Polish name, “bez heb,” also serves as a visual pun of “Hebda.”

The tree also has a theological meaning; as one of the first plants to show signs of life after winter, it is also used to symbolize hope for a season of fertility and graces. According to an official document explaining the blazonry of Archbishop Hebda’s coat of arms, “Being strong and fruitful, the elderberry has also been identified with constancy and pastoral zeal, fundamental traits expected of any bishop.”

The seven green berries — reminiscent of rosary beads — at the top of the tree are a sign that he was named a bishop on Oct. 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. With the additional eight berries at the bottom of the tree, the total 15 berries symbolize Mary’s assumption, celebrated Aug. 15. The Norbertine monastery in Hebdów, Poland, was dedicated to the Assumption in the 12th century, and “Hebda” was a common name among those who lived and worked on the monastery’s lands. The four clusters of fruit on the elderberry tree are a sign of the cardinal virtues — prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance — which “sustain the pastoral activity of the bishop.” [NOTE: all of the previous paragraph and the symbolism it describes is really a bit of a stretch, heraldically.]

The checked pattern on the fess is adopted from the coat of arms of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where Archbishop Hebda grew up and was ordained a priest July 1, 1989. According to the blazonry explanation, the placement of the tree on the chequy fess “recalls that Bishop Hebda has roots in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and has drawn his strength from that local Church.”