Category Archives: External Ornaments

Three New Ones That Don’t Quite Hit the Mark

Recently, there have been several new bishops ordained and/or installed in the U.S. and in each case their new coats of arms are very disappointing. One of the most valuable sections of the famous book on ecclesiastical heraldry by the late (great) Bruno B. Heim entitled, Heraldry in the Catholic Church concerns the design and adoption of new coats of arms by clergy. In that section, among other pieces of advice, Heim cautions that the new armiger should seek out the advice of someone competent in heraldry and, in particular, ecclesiastical heraldry if they can. That person to be consulted may not be the one who actually does the artwork but they can advise on what is and, more importantly, isn’t appropriate in a coat of arms.

Sadly, none of these new bishops seems to have done that.

I would also add a piece of advice which I have found myself repeating so often over the years to clergy who wish to adopt a coat of arms that it has become, perhaps, the most important piece of advice I can offer. Your coat of arms is not your CV in pictures! A coat of arms is a unique mark of identification. It isn’t a pictorial mission statement, a review of every aspect of your life, a personal history in symbols, a catalogue of all your likes and dislikes or a statement on your ideas of ecclesiology and ministry.

Too many clergy, especially new bishops, don’t seem to understand this. As a result they do too much or they include things that are inappropriate. Let’s take a look.

First, is the armorial bearings of Bishop Francis I. Malone (69) who was ordained and installed as the Third Bishop of Shreveport, Louisiana on January 28. The arms of the See of Shreveport are in the dexter impalement and they are not of any interest. However, the personal arms…oh boy! The chalice overall at the center is inappropriately placed and is also an almost photographic depiction of the bishop’s own personal chalice. Heraldry makes use of symbols, not portraits or photographs. An appropriate charge would be “a chalice” not a particular chalice.

The bishop has also quartered the field in such a way that he has marshaled arms that do not belong to him and appropriated them as his own. In the upper left and right of his arms he has, whole and entire, depicted the arms of the See of Philadelphia and the arms of the See of Little Rock; one because he was born there and the other because he served there as a priest. However, by including them entirely in his own arms it appears he is claiming jurisdiction over both! The better way to handle this would have been to borrow a single charge from each and incorporate them into the design of his own coat of arms rather than illicitly stealing the arms of two dioceses.

The charge on the lower left, the fleur-de-lis is fine and on the lower right the cross and crown is a logo used by his former parish which in and of itself is fine and even makes a nice heraldic charge but the overall arrangement is sloppy, and an attempt at a heraldic CV against which I warn people all the time.

Finally, the smaller Celtic cross superimposed over the episcopal cross which is an external ornament behind the shield is heraldically unsupportable. Whoever designed this coat of arms had the clear (and quite good intention) of including as many things from the bishop’s life and ministry as possible but arranged them in a way that suggests he really wasn’t that well versed in heraldic design to pull it off. Everything included in the coat of arms could have been correctly included in a more aesthetically pleasing manner if only someone who knew about heraldic design had been involved.

Second, is Bishop John McClory (56) a Detroit priest who was ordained and installed as the Fifth Bishop of Gary, Indiana on February 11. Again, the arms of the See are of no concern and, actually, are one of the better diocesan coat of arms in use in the USA with a nice reference to the Guardian Angels (titular patrons of the cathedral church).

This coat of arms is really rather nice. There is a good choice of the symbols to be used as charges. There are no tincture violations or indiscretions and, I would say the overall appearance of the coat of arms is aesthetically pleasing and harmonizes well with the arms of the See.

My criticism concerns the arrangement of the charges on the field which is rather like what has come to be known as the “lucky charms” style of heraldry. Namely, a bunch of charges scattered on the field and slapped onto a shield and called heraldry. In addition, trying to “personalize” the episcopal cross which is an external ornament which indicates the rank of the bearer and not a charge on the field which communicate the identity of the bearer is a mistake. It is in the form of a Jerusalem cross to indicate membership in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. This is not the way to depict such membership. Either a charge on the field would have been appropriate, or placing the Jerusalem cross near but outside the shield is also acceptable. In addition, the actual insignia of the Order can be depicted suspended below the shield by a black ribbon or, as a bishop, he could have placed the shield on the Jerusalem cross. But, shaping the episcopal cross to a personal preference is not an option.

Nevertheless, this is the best of the three.

Finally, we have the armorial bearings of Bishop Donald DeGrood (54) a priest of St. Paul-Minneapolis who is being ordained a bishop and installed as the Ninth Bishop of Sioux Falls, South Dakota today, in fact, even as I write this post.

Ugh!

For the third time I take no issue with the arms of the See and also think it is one of the better designed diocesan coats of arms in the USA.

As for the personal arms he has, once again, tried to do too much. The tincture combinations are unfortunate and, actually, rather sad looking. The purple priest’s stole on a green field violates the so-called tincture “rule” which dictates that a metal on a metal and a color on another color should be avoided. The sheaf of wheat looks rather anemic (but, in fairness, that may simply be an issue involving this particular depiction of the arms). The charge of the gold letter “M” in the upper right is borrowed from the arms of St. John Paul II. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se. Many warn against using letters as charges but it is well known that John Paul II argued with Bruno Heim for maintaining the “M” in his arms which he has used as a bishop and cardinal. Certainly, that charge became widely known as John Paul’s coat of arms was used extensively during his historic 27-year-long pontificate.

However, in the official version of John Paul’s arms, painted by Bruno Heim himself, the letter “M” was depicted, correctly, as filling the whole space of the field on which it was depicted. So, the charge followed the contours of the shield shape upon which it appeared. This explains why one side of the “M” is longer than the other. However, depicting it this way, floating in the middle of the field, it is completely unnecessary, and also quite ridiculous to depict the “M” with one side shorter than the other. The “M” was not blazoned to be depicted that way, Rather, that was merely an artistic convention. There seems to be the erroneous and utterly stupid notion floating around out there that the “M” must be unevenly drawn to make it the “John Paul II M“. WRONG!

The black cross on a field that is blue and green is a bad choice of tinctures. Once again, it appears as though the new bishop consulted someone who was not very well acquainted with proper heraldic design.

These three represent a situation that is all too common in the Church in general and in the United States in particular. With all the competent assistance available, especially since the advent of the internet, it’s really rather sad that such amateurish and, in some cases, frankly ugly coats of arms continue to be created.

Duke of Sussex Coat of Arms

In light of the recent announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (aka Prince Harry & Meghan) will be stepping back from duties as senior royals and, consequently no longer styling themselves as “royal highness” not a few people have contacted me to ask out of curiosity if this in any way will have an impact on the coats of arms they both use.

The simple answer is, “No”.

As the grandson of the sovereign Prince Harry employs a coat of arms that indicates he was born a grandson of the sovereign. British royal heraldry is different than many other countries in that the sovereigns children and grandchildren generally bear the royal arms differenced by a variety of labels of either three or five points and the points are charged with marks of difference. That’s really rather boring if you asked me but that’s what they do and they haven’t asked me!

So, when he turned 18 Harry was granted his own arms depicting the royal arms difference by a label of five points the first, third and fifth of which are charged with a red escallop shell. The shell is a charge borrowed from the coat of arms of his late mother, Diana (neé Spencer).

His supporters were also charged with the label for difference and the arms are surmounted by a special coronet used by the children of the heir to the throne. In addition, the royal crest is also charged with the label for difference.

Upon marrying his wife Harry was created Duke of Sussex. Nothing in his coat of arms was modified to reflect this title. Consequently, there is nothing to change in his coat of arms to reflect his new status of stepping down from a senior position in the royal family. He is still a grandson of the sovereign and son of the heir to the throne; he is still the Duke of Sussex; he is still actually an “HRH” but will choose not to style himself as such.

In fact, even after his grandmother passes away and he is the son of the sovereign and, indeed, even after his father passes away and he is the brother of the sovereign the crown used on his arms will remain unchanged as the crown for the child of the heir is identical to the crown used by children of the sovereign and siblings of the sovereign.

So…no changes.

Archbishop of Tours

On January 5 Msgr. Vincent Jordy (58) from Perpignan, France, a priest and Auxiliary Bishop of Strasbourg and from 2011-2019 Bishop of Saint Claude will be installed as the 66th Archbishop of Tours.

Unlike so many of his confreres in the French episcopate he actually bears a coat of arms:

Of course as an archbishop, the cross will now be a patriarchal cross with two horizontal bars. The fact that he doesn’t use a galero is his personal choice. As has been mentioned on this blog before, the galero is not an essential part of a bishop’s coat of arms and may be omitted if desired. The one and only distinguishing external ornament essential for a bishop’s coat of arms is the episcopal or archiepiscopal cross placed behind the shield.

Another Ordinary Australian

On August 27 Monsignor Carl Reid, PA, (68) a Canadian who converted to Catholicism in 2012, was installed as the second Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia. His personal arms were granted by the Canadian Heraldic Authority and are impaled with the arms of the Ordinariate. Richard d’Apice (in consultation with myself) assisted the Canadian heralds with the design of the personal arms. Mr. d’Apice and I designed the arms of the Ordinariate as well.

The unusual use of the crozier has been a precedent set among the Personal Ordinariates after their establishment by Pope Benedict XVI. It derives from the use of the crozier to denote Ordinary Jurisdiction while at the same time leaves off the sudarium (veil) attached to the crozier in abbatial arms which has become a symbol proper to abbots. Msgr. Reid exercises full Ordinary Jurisdiction and makes use of the pontificalia while celebrating the Sacraments like a bishop but does not possess the episcopal office. NOTE: The Personal Ordinary for the UK does not make use of a coat of arms and the Personal Ordinary for N. America is a bishop.

The artwork is by the talented Australian, Sandy Turnbull.

Grand Master of the Teutonic Order

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In August of 2018 the Teutonic Order (Deutscher Orden), a formerly medieval military order of chivalry which had, by the 20th Century, been transformed into a Religious Order, elected Fr. Frank Bayard, O.T. as its Grand Master. The Grand Master of the order has the rank of abbot. Fr. Bayard succeeds Fr. Bruno Platter who was elected as Grand Master of the Teutonic Order in 2000 and re-elected in 2006.

The coat of arms of the Grand Master is ensigned with the external ornaments of an abbot and the galero is black with cords and tassels that are white. deutscherordengm.jpg.w300h397By custom the mitre is also included in the achievement despite the 1969 Instruction from the Holy See stating otherwise. In addition, the secular sword is included which is tolerated given the order’s history as an order of chivalry prior to becoming a Religious Order within the Church. The arms of the Grand master traditionally follow a pattern which makes use of a basic shield depicting the arms of the order as used by the Grand Master which divides the field into four quarters by a sable cross charged with a gold cross fleuretty and an inescutcheon overall depicting Or, an imperial eagle Proper. In the first and fourth quarters the usual arms of the Order (Argent a cross throughout Sable) are placed. The personal arms of the individual Grand Master then occupy the 2nd and 3rd quarters of the shield.

In November, 2018 The Rt. Rev. Frank Bayard received the abbatial blessing from Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, O.P. of Vienna, where the headquarters of the Order is located. The arms assumed by Grand Master Bayard are:

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The coat of arms used by the previous two Grand Masters, Bruno Platter and Arnold Weiland followed the same pattern.

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Sacerdotal Arms of Gaunt

Recently a priest from the UK shared with me the recent (November, 2018) grant of arms he received from HM College of Arms. Of course there was a very fine example of Letters Patent illustrating the grant as well as laying out the blazon of arms. This is not an inexpensive or a quickly done process. Being a subject of HM, the Queen it was altogether correct, however, for Fr. Adam Gaunt to petition for and receive a grant of arms from the legitimate heraldic authority within the country in which he lives. It may take some time; it may cost a rather tidy sum but in the end it is well worth it.

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The coat of arms itself (below) is illustrated ensigned by the appropriate ecclesiastical hat for a priest of the Church of England. That is to say with two black tassels suspended from cords composed of black and white skeins twisted together.

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The Letters Patent also depict an heraldic crest on a helm with a horse and mantling which is most often seen employed in the arms of a layman not in holy orders. (below)

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In addition, there are illustrations included of a heraldic badge, as well as an heraldic standard which is composed of the arms, crest and badge. (below)

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Father Gaunt was kind enough to explain that, “The arms are an adaptation of those attributed by “ancient and uniform tradition” to my ancestor Gilbert de Gaunt, Earl of Lincoln.”

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“He, (Gilbert) was of Flemish origin and related to the Counts of Flanders, who used the same heraldic colors and metals.”

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Here in the United States we do not have a heraldic authority. That is not to say that Americans cannot employ coats of arms. On the contrary, Americans are armigerous but we may legally and correctly, which are two different things, assume a coat of arms. That is to say we are able simply to design and adopt a coat of arms for our own use. In England there is a heraldic authority which is not a government office but a private corporation which operates as a part of the royal household. While it is technically illegal for a person to assume a coat of arms in England there isn’t a very great likelihood that there will be any legal repercussions to doing so as there might be in, say, Scotland or South Africa. However, it is quite incorrect simply to assume arms in England.

Instead, it is both right and, I would hazard a guess, quite delightful to do as Fr. Gaunt has done and receive a grant of arms from HM College of Arms. Well done Fr. Gaunt!

Archbishop McCarrick

Here is a heraldic oddity. It involves the reduction in rank or demotion of a prelate. Now that Theodore McCarrick has resigned from the College of Cardinals he will no longer enjoy the privileges associated with it. For the time being he retains a coat of arms, although, I suppose that remains to be seen as well, and it bears the personal arms he assumed when he first became a bishop as Auxiliary Bishop of NY. He retains the double-barred cross and galero with 20 tassels of an archbishop because he is the Archbishop-emeritus of Washington, DC. The arms of theSee of Washington are not impaled with his personal arms because he is no longer the incumbent of that See. Having laid aside the dignity of a Cardinal he reverts to being Archbishop McCarrick.

 

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