The arms (above) I recently completed for Monsignor Francis Kelly, PA a Canon of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Msgr. Kelly is a priest of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts who, prior to his current service worked for many years in Washington, DC for the NCEA and was also on the faculty and later became rector of Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts. After his time there he spect eight years as the Superior at the Casa Santa Maria in Rome which is the graduate division of the Pontifical North American College. In 2013 he was named Prothonotary Apostolic and a Canon of St. Peter’s Basilica by Pope Benedict XVI. I met Msgr. Kelly in 1996 when I was sent for one year of studies at Pope John Seminary. We have been friends since then.
The blazon is:
Azure, between two lions rampant respectant Or, armed and langued Gules the Greek letters Chi and Rho Argent; in base a star of six points Argent. The shield is placed on the cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre and is ensigned by the galero of a Prothonotary Apostolic Purpure with cords and twelve tassels disposed in three rows of one, two and three pendant on either side of the shield Gules. On a scroll below the shield is the motto: “To Live For Him”.
The blue field and gold lions are taken from the coat of arms traditionally associated with the name “Kelly”. In that coat of arms the lions are chained and they face a tower. For differencing the chains have been omitted and the tower has been replaced with the Greek letters that are a monogram for the name Christ and a star of six points. These indicate the armiger’s devotion to Christ and Our Lady.
The armiger is a Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher and its cross is placed behind the shield. The purple galero with red cords and tassels indicates a Roman prelate with the rank of Prothonotary Apostolic, the highest of the three grades of prelates addressed as “Monsignor”. The members of the Chapter of the Papal Basilica of the Vatican hold this rank.
The motto expresses a sentiment the armiger has endeavored to embody throughout his entire priesthood.
There were three popes in the 20th C. who had served as Patriarch of Venice prior to their election to the papacy. (and two were also later canonized!) They each decided to retain a chief “of Venice” (with the winged lion of St. Mark, a symbol of Venice) in their papal coats of arms. The three were St. Pius X, St. John XXIII and Pope John Paul I.
Since the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI (2005-2013) the Prefect of the Pontifical Household (formerly called the Majordomo of His Holiness) has been the Most Rev. Georg Gänswein, who also served Pope Benedict as his personal secretary. At the time Gänswein was ordained to the episcopacy he assumed a coat of arms that impaled (that is, combined side by side on the same shield) his own personal emblems with the coat of arms of the pope he served, Benedict XVI. Upon the abdication of of Pope Benedict and the election of Pope Francis Gänswein’s coat of arms changed to reflect the new pope he continued to serve as Prefect of the Pontifical Household. This is an old custom. Below are the coats of arms of several of these Prefects with their arms impaled with the various popes under whom they served.
Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano
Callori di Vignale
Our sincere best wishes and prayers to His Holiness, Benedict XVI, Pope-Emeritus on his 88th birthday. Ad Multos Annos Pater Sancte!
Much has been written in recent years about the practice of a prelate modifying the design of his coat of arms when he moves from one position to another in the Church. Generally speaking I am against the practice. A coat of arms, even an assumed one, becomes a unique personal symbol and is associated with the person who bears the arms. To change the original design simply because one is taking up a new position or ministry is ill advised.
I am, of course, not referring to marshaling the personal arms with those of a jurisdiction (see, abbey, or even a parish). When a cleric is translated from one jurisdiction to another of course he will then marshal his personal arms to those of the new jurisdiction because, after all, impaling or quartering the personal arms with those of a jurisdiction is a means of displaying two or more separate coats of arms together on one shield. The arms of a diocese do not “become” part of the bishops personal coat of arms. They are displayed along with the personal arms of the incumbent during the tenure of his office as part of the overall achievement but that is all.
Rather, I am speaking of a cleric slightly modifying or even changing entirely the design on the shield of his personal coat of arms. In some cases the change is a result of unhappiness with the design originally adopted. Sometimes it is the case that a cleric is appointed to be a bishop and wishes to make use of his new coat of arms at his episcopal ordination which may be as soon as only six weeks away. So, a design is hastily adopted. later, when being translated to a new see the bishop has had time to second guess his original arms and wishes to tweak the design or even change it altogether. While this is understandable it still should be frowned upon. His new position doesn’t mean he is becoming an entirely new person.
Yet we see that this has and continues to happen. Even no less than Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli 1939-1958) bore arms that were slightly different before and after he became pope. When a bishop and cardinal his arms depicted a dove displayed (i.e. with its wings spread) holding an olive branch in its beak. This is a reference to the name Pacelli which means “peace”. The dove was perched on a trimount and sitting below the arc of a rainbow, an allusion to the story of Noah from the Scriptures.
However, after his election to the papacy there are some differences. The dove now has folded wings and sits perched on the trimount which is depicted on field and above waves of water. In addition, the rainbow is now gone. Perhaps Pius XII felt the reference to the story of Noah was redundant or superfluous? Perhaps he wished to express a global desire for peace since he was elected at a time when the world was on the brink of World War II? Perhaps he simply liked this newer design more? We shall never know yet here is a good example of arms modified when going from one position in the Church to another.
It has been revealed that, due to personality clashes and the pope’s opinion of too much militarism, the Commandant of the Papal Swiss Guard, Daniel Anrig, has been asked by Pope Francis to step down at the end of January. Appointed by Benedict XVI Anrig has served in his position since 2008. I’m not exactly sure how the head of a military corps is supposed to act other than militarily but there is a lot happening in the Vatican these days that no one seems to be able to explain, at least not easily. Anrig’s coat of arms as Commandant of the Papal Swiss Guard is below. It employs the type of charge known as a house marking that is characteristic of Swiss heraldry. The arms of the Commandant is always depicted at the center point of the flag of the Swiss guard.
On October 19 Pope Francis will beatify Giovanni Battista Montini, also known as Pope Paul VI whose pontificate lasted from 1963-1978. He presided over three of the four session of Vatican II and is really the one responsible for most of the reform and simplification of the Church’s liturgy and ceremonial practices.
In his coat of arms the six hillocks in base are a play on his family name, Montini, which means “little mountains”.