Category Archives: Bishops

Most Rev. Robert F. Christian, O.P. – RIP

The Most Rev. Robert Christian, a Dominican friar, who has been the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco passed away on July 11, 2019 at age 70.

His coat of arms was assumed by him at the time of his episcopal ordination.

Umm…no. Sorry, but “beige” isn’t a heraldic color and, no, you may not just simply make up new rules and use whatever color you wish in heraldry. The science of heraldry limits the tinctures to be used and beige isn’t one of them. The Dominican cross and the usual Franciscan conformities (the arms of Christ and St. Francis crossed with each other) made for a nice combination of symbols for his Religious Community and the Archdiocese.

May he rest in peace.

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Bishop Joseph Galante, RIP

Bishop Joseph A. Galante, D.D., J.C.D. was born in Philadelphia and was ordained in 1964. He attended Lateran University in Rome, where he received his doctorate in canon law, and later the University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome, where he received his Master’s Degree in Spiritual Theology.

He served in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia until he was named by Pope John Paul II in December 1986 to be Undersecretary of the Congregation for Religious in Rome. He was a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Communications.

In October 1992 he was named Auxiliary Bishop of San Antonio, Texas. A year and a half later he was installed as Bishop of Beaumont, Texas. He became Coadjutor Bishop of Dallas in January 2000.

On April 30, 2004, Bishop Galante was installed as seventh bishop of the Diocese of Camden.

Bishop Galante retired on January 8, 2013. He entered into eternal life on May 25, 2019.

Most Rev. Robert Brennan of Columbus, OH

On Friday, March 29, 2019 the Most Rev. Robert Brennan, formerly Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, NY was installed as the twelfth Bishop of Columbus, Ohio. His personal arms now impaled with those of the See are described on the diocesan website.

The Brennan coat of arms comprises a white shield with a blue heraldic lion, and two red hands in the top corners of the shield. Rather than use the original design Bishop Brennan has chosen to retain the overall coloration and layout of his family coat of arms, while employing charges more evocative of his own life of faith. 

The main charge on the shield is the Cross, the foundation of the Christian faith. The arms of this particular Cross resemble a fleur-de-lis, a stylized lily often used as a symbol of the Virgin Mary.  

At the bottom of the cross appears a small white star, a symbol of Our Lady. Its position recalls the moment of the Commendation, when, “standing by the cross of Jesus” (John 19:25), Mary became, at her Son’s command, the Mother of all of his disciples (cf. John 19:27). The star has seven points, recalling the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

At the center of the cross appears a lamb’s head painted gold. The same charge figures prominently on the coat of arms of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which Bishop Brennan served as a priest and bishop for nearly 30 years. Saint Agnes is the patroness of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, and of its Cathedral church, where Bishop Brennan resided for 16 years. 

At the top of the shield are two scallop shells painted red. Although the charges are the same, they are used here to allude to two different saints: John the Baptist and James the Greater. Bishop Brennan attended Saint John the Baptist High School (West Islip) and Saint John’s University, and the patron of these schools is often depicted in sacred art using a shell to baptize the Lord Jesus. The date of Bishop Brennan’s ordination as a bishop — July 25, 2012 — is the feast of Saint James, the brother of Saint John the Evangelist and the first of the apostles to be martyred, during the persecution of the early Church (Acts 12:1-2). The red color of the shells recalls the fact that both of these saints gave their lives as martyrs for the faith. 

Most Rev. John M. Smith, RIP

 

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On Jan. 22, 2019 of the Most Rev. John Mortimer Smith, Bishop Emeritus (2010-2019) and Ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton (1997-2010), former Coadjutor Bishop of Trenton (1995-1997), former Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee in Florida (1991-1995) and former Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark (1988-1991) passed into eternal life.  Bishop Smith died in Morris Hall Meadows, Lawrenceville, after a long illness. He was 83 years old.

His coat of arms (above) was assumed at the time he was ordained an Auxiliary Bishop in 1988. It is, in my opinion, a little too “busy” insofar as he tried to do too much. All those various charges represent different events/aspects of his priestly life and ministry, a kind of pictorial CV, which is precisely the type of thing I encourage new armigers to avoid all the time. It was particularly problematic and a little bit unattractive when it was marshaled to the arms of a See, such as Trenton, because all this was then squeezed into a narrow impalement (below). Perhaps, it would have been better to marshal the arms differently or to have simply borne his personal arms alone (something of which most American bishops cannot conceive because they think it isn’t permitted!)

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Aside from his less-than-wonderful coat of arms I met Bishop Smith on several occasions and found him to be a warm, outgoing and very kind man. He was very down-to-earth and easy to talk with. In the days when he was bishop of Trenton I hosted a 30-minute weekly radio program for my diocese and he told me on more than once occasion how he enjoyed listening to it in the car while driving to some event at which he was to preside. He was one of our biggest fans. May he rest in peace and receive the reward of his labors in the Lord’s vineyard.

(Artwork for both images by Deacon Paul Sullivan)

Bishop Mulvee, RIP

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On December 28 the Most Rev. Robert Mulvee (88) retired VII Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, formerly Bishop of Wilmington, Delaware and Auxiliary Bishop as well as a priest of Manchester, New Hampshire passed away. He will be buried on January 10th.

May he Rest in Peace.

Mulvee Coat of Arms

Bishop Morlino RIP

On November 24, 2018 the Most Rev. Robert Charles Morlino (71), Fourth Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin since 2003, died peacefully after a brief illness.

His coat of arms as described in information from the diocese:

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“The arms of the diocese are composed of a field that is wavy bars of silver (white) and blue. This is the traditional heraldic representation for water and the field of “water” is divided by a red cross into four sections to remind us of the lakes of the region around Madison. On the red cross is a fish and this conjunction of symbols is a classic symbolic representation for Saint Raphael, the titular of the Cathedral Church of Madison. Raphael means “healer of God” and his ministrations to men make interesting reading in the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament. The fish recalls the episode where Raphael ordered Tobias to cook a fish to eat but removed the heart, liver and gall for future medicinal use. Later the liver was used by Tobias to drive out the devil, who had slain seven of the previous husbands of Sara, his wife, while the gall was used to restore sight to his blind father.

The upper most part of the bishop’s arms contain a gold tower which symbolizes a place of refuge, strength and of safety.  There is also a book which serves to reference the bishop’s thirst for knowledge of things that concern God and His Church.

There is also a gold crescent moon on a blue fess. The blue fess serves to recall not only the blue in which Our Lady is traditionally depicted, but also of water.

The “lion passant” of gold in the lowest part of the shield alludes to the strength and liveliness of His Excellency in all that he does, but most especially in defending the faith. This charge further seeks to reveal His Excellency’s strong devotion to Pope Saint Leo the Great that began to develop during the formation of his master’s thesis.

The red background, overall, calls to mind the blood of the martyrs.

The motto, “The Vision Will Not Disappoint” is from Habbakuk 2:3″

Requiescat in Pace.