Author Archives: guyselvester

Almost Identical

Sometimes, especially in the world of ecclesiastical heraldry, prelates aren’t always so creative and frequently they adopt arms that are very similar to each other’s. On occasion this may indicate a kind of patronage of one prelate over another. For example, St. John XXIII’s longtime secretary, Loris Capovilla, was later made an Archbishop and eventually a Cardinal. At the time of his episcopal ordination he adopted John XXIII’s coat of arms entirely with one tiny exception; he removed one of the fleur-de-lis in order to “difference” his arms from his patron.

Differencing is an old custom in heraldry and often misunderstood. Two different coats of arms might seem identical at first glance. Yet, as long as one element is changed, or “differenced” it makes for a sufficient differentiation between the two in order to avoid two armigers bearing identical coats of arms. Sometimes this could be the changing of a particular charge, the addition of a label or a mark of cadence or even simply changing the tinctures.

Here we see an interesting pair. Both Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, Patriarch of Venice (later Pope St. John XXIII) and Carlos Maria Della Torre, Archbishop of Quito & Primate of Ecuador were created Cardinals by Pope Pius XII in 1953. The arms they each bore were almost identical showing a tower flanked by two fleur-de-lis on a red and white field.

J23  Torre

However, Roncalli’s arms showed a field “Gules, a fess Argent” and Della Torre’s showed a field, “Barry of four Argent and Gules”. These arms allude to his name, “Of the Tower”. In addition, Roncalli added the chief of Venice (depicting the gold lion of St. Mark on a silver (white) field) at the time he was promoted to Patriarch there as is usually the custom for the incumbents in that position. That provided a great visual difference between their arms. However, after Roncalli’s election as Pope in 1958 Della Torre once again made their arms very similar by adopting a chief with the gold lion of St. Mark on a red field; differenced from the Pope’s but only slightly. I suppose given the relative similarity of their coats of arms in the first place he wished to honor his “classmate” as a Cardinal who was also now his Pope.

What is more it is interesting to note that both men bore the same motto despite there being no particular relationship between the two.

These arms seem almost identical, but note quite.

Artwork: The late Michael McCarthy
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Bishop Konzen

The Most Rev. Joel Matthias Konzen, S.M. (67) a priest of the Society of Mary (Marists) was ordained as the Titular Bishop of Leavenworth and Auxiliary to the Archbishop of Atlanta on April 3, 2018. His coat of arms is explained by its designer and artist, Deacon Paul Sullivan.

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The episcopal heraldic achievement, or bishop’s coat of arms, is composed of a shield, that is the central and most important part of the design and tells to whom the design belongs, the external ornamentation, that tells the owner’s position or rank, and a motto, placed upon a scroll.

For Bishop Konzen the shield is silver (white) with a blue pile (an “A” shaped device) upon which is displayed the conjoined “A” and “M,” known an “the monogram of Mary,” in silver (white) that is the emblem of the Society of Mary, known as the Marists, that is the Bishop’s religious community. The pile resembles an inlet of water, such as a bay or harbor, and this pile is charged with a gold (yellow) oak leaf to signify Oak Harbor, Ohio, where Bishop Konzen was born and raised.

Above the pile are an open book (gold [yellow] with red edges) and a red cross of The Faith to signify that Bishop Konzen has spent most of his life in education, in a Catholic environment, including his last position, before coming to the fullness of Christ’s Most Holy Priesthood, as a Bishop, as President of the Marist School in Atlanta.

For his motto, His Excellency, Bishop Konzen has adopted the Latin phrase “MISERERE GAUDENS,” that is taken from the 8th verse of the 12th chapter of Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans. This passage can be paraphrased as “Be merciful, and with a cheerful heart.”

The achievement is completed with the external ornaments that are a gold (yellow) episcopal cross, that extends above and below the shield and a pontifical hat, called a galero, with its six tassels, in three rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of bishop by instruction of the Holy See, of March 1969.

+Rt. Rev. Giles Hayes, OSB R.I.P.

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The Right Reverend Giles Hayes, OSB (79) the Tenth Abbot of St. Mary’s Abbey in Morristown, New Jersey (founded in 1884 as St. Mary’s Abbey in Newark, a daughter house of St. Vincent Archabbey in Pennsylvania and later moved to Morristown) passed away on March 7, 2018.

He was elected Abbot in 2006 at which time he commissioned me to design and execute his abbatial coat of arms. He led the community until 2014.

The arms of the Abbey (in the first and fourth quarters above) are clearly based on those of the community’s motherhouse.

May he Rest in Peace.

Archabbots of St. Vincent

St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the oldest monastery in the United States, was founded in 1846 by monks from St. Michael’s Abbey in Metten, Bavaria under the leadership of Fr. Boniface Wimmer. They came to Pennsylvania funded by the Ludwigs-Missionverein, an organization started by the King Ludwig I of Bavaria to minister to German immigrants throughout the world.

When the community had grown large enough to be elevated to the status of an independent abbey in 1855 it was decided to designate it an archabbey and Father Boniface was named Archabbot for life by Bl. Pius IX. His coat of arms (below) looks to be based in a quartering of the arms of the royal family of Bavaria, the House of Wittelsbach. The lion holding the banner of Christ was used not only by Archabbot Boniface as his coat of arms but also by the community as the heraldic symbol of the archabbey. It seems as though Wimmer’s first three successors, Archabbot Andrew Hintenach (1888-1892), Archabbot Leander Schnerr (1892-1918) and Archabbot Aurelius Stehle (1918-1930) also used this coat of arms. I have not been able to locate any other coats of arms for them.

Coat_of_Arms_of_Archabbot_Boniface_Wimmer2a

In 1930 with the election of St. Vincent’s fifth Archabbot, Alfred Koch (1930-1949), things changed. At that time the community decided to adopt a corporate coat of arms, which borrowed the blue and white fusils in bend from another Wittelsbach quartering and took the three plates on a black fess from the arms of William Penn, turned the fess into an inverted chevron (to create the letter “V” for “Vincent”) and charged the three plates with Benedictine crosses. Archabbot Alfred impaled this with a personal coat of arms. Thereafter, his successors did likewise.

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Archabbot Dennis Strittmatter (1949-1963)

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Coadjutor Archabbot Rembert Weakland (1963-1967) later Abbot-Primate and Archbishop of Milwaukee

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Archabbot Egbert Donavan (1967-1979)

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Archabbot Leopold Krul (1979-1983)

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Archabbot Paul Maher (1983-1990)

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Archabbot Douglas Nowicki (1991-present)

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During the tenure of Archabbot Egbert Bl. Paul VI changed the customary rules governing the external ornaments of prelates indicating that the mitre was no longer to be used in coats of arms. In addition, he called for the discontinuation of the crozier in arms of bishops. The crozier used to be included in the achievements of bishops in addition to the episcopal cross. Paul VI indicated in was the cross alone that would continue to be used in the arms of bishops and that the crozier should be excluded. This was interpreted by some, wrongly, to mean the crozier should no longer be used in the arms of abbots as well. However, it is the veiled crozier, not the galero, which indicates the rank of abbot in heraldry. Archabbots Leopold and Paul were advised incorrectly to leave the crozier out of their achievements. It was, however, restored to use in the coat of arms of Archabbot Douglas which was designed by me.

Abbot of Averbode

The Right Reverend Marc Fierens O.Praem. will be blessed and installed as the 53rd Abbot of Averbode, Belgium on March 11. This design was devised by the Abbot in consultation with with someone very well versed in heraldry. The drawing is by Prisca Van Dessel.

Averbode

It has long been customary for the Abbots of Religious Orders that wear a white or mostly white habit to use an abbatial galero that corresponds to the color of their habit. Since the Praemonstratensians wear a habit which is entirely white their abbots have traditionally used a white galero.

Personally, I have never agreed with this tradition. The color of the galero does not have to correspond with what is actually worn. Rather, in heraldry, color as well as number of tassels is an indication of rank. For example, bishops and archbishops use a green galero. This has its origin in the belief that the original color worn by bishops was green. However, when Roman purple was later adopted by bishops for their manner of dress the galero, which is after all symbolic, remained green for bishops and archbishops in heraldry.

Indeed, abbots do not, nor have they ever, wear a galero! It’s use in their heraldic achievements is purely symbolic. This is a further reason that it need not correspond to the color of their habit. The black galero with 12 tassels indicates the bearer is a Religious Superior, in this case an abbot, regardless of what we wears. The galero need not indicate the Order to which he belongs, just his rank. In abbatial heraldry it is the veiled crozier which indicates the arms are those of an abbot because the black galero with 12 tassels may be used by any Major Religious Superior of any Order, Institute or Congregation, as well as by secular Vicars General and Vicars Episcopal. Similarly, the galero that indicates the armiger is a priest is black with 2 black tassels regardless of whether the bearer is a secular clergyman or a member of a Religious Community. Franciscan priests do not use a brown galero, Sylvestrine priests do not use a blue galero,  Dominican priests do not use a white galero, etc. Nevertheless, among the Canons Regular of Premontré the canons, like their abbots, do indeed make use of a white galero.

I may not be in favor of it but it is, regardless of my personal opinion, a long-standing tradition in heraldry and done on a regular basis. The length of time this custom has been observed has made it into the commonly accepted practice. My contrary opinion is but wishful thinking on my part. I wish it otherwise and I have good reasons to support that opinion. Alas, it is not and I have to live with disappointment.

Bishop Aviles

The Most Rev. Mario Aviles, C.O. (48) former Procurator General of the Confederation of Oratorians of St. Philip Neri, was ordained Titular Bishop of Cataquas and will serve as the first Auxiliary Bishop of Brownsville, Texas on February 22, 2018.

Aviles