Monthly Archives: December 2013

Bishop Cozzens

In an earlier post I noted how Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Andrew Cozzens, had his coat of arms carved into the crook of his crozier. Here now we see the coat of arms in its full achievement.

Hmmm. Less than wonderful.

The shield is divided by a saltire which is traditionally the X-shaped “St. Andrew Cross”. The three hearts represent the Sacred Heart of Jesus (center) the Immaculate Heart of Mary (to dexter) and the Heart of St. Joseph (to sinister). I have never heard of the latter being depicted either in heraldry or in any Catholic religious symbolism and art. Perhaps it was made up by the armiger to balance the other two? Either way, three hearts is a bit much and, if they were to be used, in heraldry it would have been better NOT to depict them in the traditional form with flames, roses, thorns, etc. and simply to depict three heart-shaped charges to stand for these three hearts.

The waves in base are from the arms of the See, which the bishop now serves and had served as a priest as well. However, the mountains in chief, to allude to his native Colorado, should be stylized and not depicted in a portrait landscape style. When…When…WHEN are people going to get it through their heads that you cannot simply take any image or picture you want, slap it onto a shield and call it heraldry???

The cord around the perimeter of the shield represents the bond of fraternity that the bishop has with a group of priests who form a priestly fraternity of which he is a member. That’s a perfectly good symbol for such a bond but should have been depicted within the edge of the shield as a bordure. Depicting it as the actual edge of the shield is heraldically unsupportable.

In the description of the achievement the episcopal cross is described as being Celtic. There are two problems there. The first is my often mentioned admonition that individual armigers are not free to determine the shape, style and manner of the depiction of the external ornaments. That creative freedom applies only to that which is on the shield. The second problem in this case is that the cross depicted is not even Celtic!

So, all in all there are nice ideas here and the charges were chosen to represent wonderful priestly and personal virtues but the overall effect is disappointing at best.

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Hartford

The arms of the newly installed (Dec. 16th) Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford, Connecticut. He is the former bishop of Toledo, Ohio and also formerly the auxiliary bishop of Detroit, Michigan. Below his arms are those of his two immediate predecessors, Abp. Henry Mansell and Abp. Daniel Cronin both of whom are still living. The arms of the archdiocese employ nice canting arms for “hart” and “ford”.

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When NOT to Use Heraldry Decoratively

OK. I love heraldry. Can’t get enough of it. I like to see its use where and whenever I possibly can. I actually think it is underused in the Church. But, there are limits. As much as I love heraldry there are times and places when even I am forced to admit that slapping a coat of arms onto it is a bad idea. Case in point the photo below of the gathered bishops of Indonesia. The bishop in the back row third from the right and his fellow bishop in the front row third from the left look RIDICULOUS. Coats of arms on the front of a mitre? NO!

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Papal Throne Modified to Include Heraldry of Pope Francis

From the photos below which were taken on November 30th during a celebration of Vespers for the First Sunday of Advent we see that the throne chair used for papal liturgies (originally emblazoned with the arms of Pope St. Pius X and later modified to bear the arms of Pope Benedict XVI) have once again been slightly modified. The finials on the chair retain their original composition while the charges on the shield itself have been changed to bear the coat of arms of Pope Francis. It is nice to see some things are still being done. It is also odd to see the arms of Pope Francis topped by the tiara!

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