A Gallery of Banality

In January several new Auxiliary Bishops have been ordained in the USA. Their choices regarding armorial bearings have been, shall we say, underwhelming. I am not commenting on the quality of the artwork, at least not for the moment. This post is concerned with the content and composition of these coats of arms from a heraldically correct viewpoint. Let’s have a look.

Most Rev. Timothy Freyer, Auxiliary of Orange, CA (ordained January 17)

freyer

Meh.

Most Rev. Mark Brennan, Auxiliary of Baltimore, MD (ordained January 19)

Print

Busy.

Most Rev. Adam Parker, Auxiliary of Baltimore, MD (ordained January 19)

Print

Gag. (and not entitled to the quarter of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher)

Most Rev. Gerard Battersby, Auxiliary of Detroit, MI (ordained January 25)

battersby_coat_of_arms_thumbnail

Yuck.

Most Rev. Robert Fisher, Auxiliary of Detroit, MI (ordained January 25)

fisher_coat_of_arms_thumbnail

Blech.

Trenton Co-Cathedral

Uh-Oh!

Not quite, Trenton. On February 19 the church of St. Robert Bellarmine in Freehold, NJ was designated the Co-Cathedral of the venerable diocese of Trenton. The reasons for Bishop O’Connell requesting the designation of a co-cathedral, something usually reserved for diocese with a dual or twin seat of the bishop (such as Altoona-Johnstown, PA or Springfield-Cape Girardeau, MO) are of no concern here. The bishop desired it, his consulters concurred and the Holy See gave its permission.

However, during the ceremony elevating the 1,000 seat suburban parish church to co-cathedral one of the elements of the ritual, including the blessing of a new cathedra for the bishop, was the handing over of a new coat of arms for the co-cathedral (below).

Print

The design uses the arms of the See of Trenton which, as I have always said, is probably one of the nicest and most heraldically correct coats of arms of any diocese in the USA. The only addition was to add a chief with the pine cones taken directly from the arms of St. Robert Bellarmine himself.

Some might wonder why a church would need a coat of arms? Actually, it is quite common for churches, both parish churches and cathedral churches, to make use of corporate arms of their own. In fact, in many places the cathedral church incorrectly assumes that it has the right to employ the arms of the diocese as its own since it serves as the seat of the bishop of that diocese. Such an assumption is actually incorrect. The arms of the diocese cannot be used by the cathedral church, chapter or parish as also “theirs”. So, the idea of a separate coat of arms for the co-cathedral parish is a perfectly good one.

I note that the mother church of the diocese of Trenton, the cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, does not seem to make the mistake of employing the arms of the See of Trenton as their own. Indeed, it does not seem to make use of any coat of arms. So, this begs the question, “Why does the co-cathedral need its own coat of arms when the actual cathedral does not use one?”

I think the design of the new arms is a good one. It still maintains a sense of clarity and simplicity, clearly identifies with the diocese, and makes good use of charges from the armigerous patron saint of the place.

However, the problem is in the external ornament. The shield is surmounted by a mitre. Here, a similar mistake to a cathedral simply stealing the arms of the diocese has occurred. Someone involved in the design of this coat of arms just assumed that as a cathedral church the mitre is the most appropriate external ornament to adorn the shield. In heraldry the mitre is used, in some places still, to denote the arms of a bishop and in most places the arms of a diocese…not a cathedral. Just as a cathedral cannot simply make use of a diocesan coat of arms, similarly, a co-cathedral cannot usurp the ornaments proper to the corporate arms of a diocese. Quite unintentionally the person who designed this has created arms for a new diocese!

As is the case with the corporate arms of any church it should make use of the shield alone and, possibly, a motto if desired. There is no crest, no mitre, no crozier or cross, indeed, no external ornament to denote the arms of a cathedral or co-cathedral. Once again, rather than consulting with someone knowledgeable a person, or persons, just struck out on their own, extrapolated from what they had seen elsewhere…and got it WRONG!

I find this kind of ignorance annoying, appalling and fairly commonplace, especially when it comes to the Catholic Church in the United States.

 

Bishop of London To Retire (UPDATED)

The Right Reverend and Right Honorable Richard Chartres, KCVO, ChStJ, PC, FSA will be stepping down this month after twenty-two years as Bishop of London, the third most senior position in the hierarchy of the Church of England.

london2

His coat of arms (above) depicts the arms of the See of London with its two crossed swords as an allusion to its patron, St. Paul impaled with his personal arms which depict a charge of a labyrinth. This, in my opinion, is a clever way to do a kind of canting arms the medieval labyrinth being a famous feature on the floor of Chartres cathedral.

Thanks to one of my regular correspondents for this fine image of the Bishop’s coat of arms.

Bishop Barres

Here is the version of the coat of arms of Bp. John O. Barres of Rockville Centre, NY published by the diocese.

coatofarms-barres

Hmmmmm…as one correspondent has already pointed out the blazon says that the bishop’s personal arms have a field that is “barry of six” yet seven are depicted here. In addition, the arms of the See are blazoned as having a bordure wavy but that is barely discernible.

Archbishop Stack of Cardiff

From the most recent College of Arms Newsletter: A grant of Arms was made by Letters Patent of Garter and Clarenceux Kings of Arms dated 14 October 2016 to George STACK, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cardiff.

College reference: Grants 179/343. The blazon reads:

“Arms (illustrated below): Vert a Pall parted and fretted each piece Argent voided Azure between in chief a Fleur-de-lys Argent in the dexter a Garb and in the sinister a Stag’s Head caboshed a Crescent between the attires Or.”

stack_patent_compressed

Abbot of Conception, Missouri

On January 15 the Most Rev. James Johnston of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri bestowed the abbatial blessing on the Rt. Rev. Benedict Neenan, OSB, the tenth abbot of Conception Abbey who was elected by the members of his community in November, 2016 to succeed Abbot Gregory Polan who had been elected as the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation.

0120coatofarms-abbotneemanosb

Abbot Benedict’s coat of arms, assumed upon election, are blazoned and explained as:

“Blazon: A field azure, a Canadian pale argent dovetailed, in chief ten goutte de sang (gules) (palewise two, three, three, two), in base a fountain (a roundle barry wavy argent and azure).”

The main charges of the shield (escutcheon) have particular significance for Abbot Benedict and his ministry to the monastic community. The circle with blue and white waves is called a fountain, and symbolizes the abbot’s hometown, Kansas City, the City of Fountains. The 10 blood droplets (goutte de sang) above it represent the self-sacrificial office of the abbot for the community. Ten droplets signify that he is the tenth abbot of Conception Abbey, which was founded in 1873. Abbot Benedict holds a doctorate in Church history and the two main charges —the fountain and the blood droplets — taken together evoke the Paschal Mystery that birthed the Church and which is the center of all human history, for “This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood.” (1 John 5:6) Again, both the fountain and blood drops suggest baptism; the monastic life is often called a “second baptism” due to its deepening of the commitment to baptismal vows.

The white (argent or silver) division of the shield vertically is bordered in a dovetail pattern, calling to mind furniture joints. This alludes to the abbot’s training as a woodworker in Bavaria. The blue (azure) on either side of the central white composition represents the Blessed Virgin Mary. A traditional devotional image of the Virgin is the Madonna of Mercy, in which she spreads her mantle as protection over a group of the faithful. This symbolizes the patroness of the abbey’s protection over its monks.

-from the website of “The Catholic Key“.

An American in Poland

lynam3

The arms (above) I recently devised for an American priest who lives and works in the USA but who, in addition to his pastoral responsibilities at home, was honored by being named an Honorary Canon of the Collegiate Chapter of the Basilica of St. Florian in Krakow.

The arms are:

Quarterly skewed to the dexter Gules and Argent; at the cross point a cross of St. Florian counterchanged Or and Azure; in sinister base above a mullet of six points Or an open crown Argent. Suspended below the shield is the badge of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher. The shield is ensigned by the galero of a Canon Sable with cords and six tassels in two rows of one and two respectively Sable. On a scroll below the shield is the motto, “Fiat Voluntas Tua” (Let it Be Done According to Your Will).

The principal colors of the field are the Polish national colors and the division of the field alludes to the off-center cross found in the arms of St. John Paul II (who raised St. Florian Church, his own first priestly assignment, to the rank of a basilica). the cross associated with St. Florian himself is superimposed over the cross point and is colored in blue and gold counterchanged to avoid the tincture violations. These colors are also found in the arms of St. John Paul II.

In the lower right there is a six pointed star to symbolize Our Lady and it is crowned with an open crown alluding to Mary’s Queenship, the patroness of the armiger’s home diocese.

The black galero  with black cords and six black tassels indicates the bearer is a cleric with the rank of Canon, in this case, a Collegiate Canon. Being a Knight of the Holy Sepulcher he also chose to display the badge of that Order pendant below the shield from a black ribbon.