Monthly Archives: April 2013

Coat of Arms of the Netherlands Royal House


From his April 30th investiture onwards, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander will fly the royal standard. His coat of arms will be identical to that used by Queen Beatrix. Contrary to the announcement in the press release of 29 January therefore, there will be no change in the design.

The blazon is: Azure, billity or, a lion rampant of the same, armed and langued gules, crowned with a coronet of two pearls between three leaves, a sword argent with hilt or, thrusted upwards, in its right hand claw seven arrows argent with heads or, tied in a garb with ribbon or, in its left hand claw. The Royal Netherlands crown resting on the ledge of the shield, supported by two lions rampant or, armed and langued gules, placed above a ribbon azure, with the motto JE MAINTIENDRAI in gold lettering. The whole placed above a royal mantling purple trimmed or, lined ermine, tied back at the corners with gold tassled cords and issuing from a domed canopy of the same, surmounted by the Royal Netherlands crown.

The royal coat of arms, which is the same as the coat of arms of the Kingdom, has only been altered once since the foundation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In 1907, at the instigation of Queen Wilhelmina, the number of crowns was reduced to one, surmounting the shield. At the same time, it became possible to add the royal mantle, also surmounted by a crown. The addition of other decorative elements to the coat of arms is optional.

After her abdication Queen Beatrix will adopt the coat of arms created for her (and for her sisters) in 1938 as Princess of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau and Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld.

Cinematic Heraldry


With the new Iron Man movie coming out soon hoards of geeks will reignite discussions of the coolest thing about Iron Man/Tony Stark. Well, the first movie already revealed the. coolest. thing. ever. In the scene showing Tony in his private jet we see on the wall behind him that TONY STARK HAS A COAT OF ARMS!!! Woo-hoo!

Rosary As An External Ornament

The rosary, or chaplet, is used in heraldry as an external ornament for those who are Professed Religious (men or women) and who are not also ordained to the priesthood. It is sometimes used by those who are officials and, therefore, entitled to use some other external ornament like a prior’s staff or even a crozier, in the case of Abbesses. The rosary is usually black and consists of five sets of ten beads, called decades, separated by five larger beads. It completely surrounds the shield and terminates at the bottom with three small beads and a cross.

The Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta as well as professed knights of Justice of that order also make use of the rosary since they are actually Professed Religious in the Roman Catholic Church. However, they make use of a silver or white rosary that usually terminates in a Maltese cross.

Below is the coat of arms of the current Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta, His Most Eminent Highness, Frá Matthew Festing when he was Grand Prior of England which illustrates the use of the rosary well.


Patriarch of Venice


Since April 25 is the feast of St. Mark who is the patron saint of Venice I thought it would be nice to see the arms of that city’s patriarch, Archbishop Moraglia. Venice is one of the few (arch)dioceses in Italy that uses a kind of diocesan arms. The Patriarch’s arms always have a chief (upper third of the shield) which contains a gold winged lion of St. Mark on a silver (white) background.

Doesn’t that violate the “tincture rule” of no metal on metal? Yes, it does but sometimes you just say, “What the heck?” In the case of many ancient coats of arms the tincture “rule” which is merely a custom, doesn’t apply.

The winged lion is the symbol for the Apostle and Evangelist, St. Mark. This comes from the prophecy of Ezekial and is also reflected in the Book of Revelation. The winged lion is one of the four great creatures that pull the throne-chariot of God. These creatures came to be considered representative of the authors of the four gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In his paws the lion holds an open book with the phrase, “Pax tibi Marce Evangelista meus” (Peace be to you, Mark, my Evangelist).

In addition to these arms of the See the Patriarch of Venice (an honorary title obtained during the days of the great Venetian Republic to add prestige to the city) uses the green galero with green cords and thirty green tassels (fifteen on either side of the shield). If the individual incumbent is created a cardinal he uses the regular scarlet galero of a cardinal. Some maintain that the galero of a Patriarch should have a skein of gold thread interwoven in the cords but this is not true. There were three popes in the 20th C. who had been Patriarch of Venice at the time of their election and all of them continues to use this chief of St. mark in their coat of arms as pope. They were: St. Pius X, Bl. John XXIII and Pope John Paul I.