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My episcopal coat of arms

One of the traditions associated with becoming a bishop is having a coat of arms. This is not mandatory in any way, but most bishops around the world have at least an unofficial coat of arms that they use, and some in Canada have received a formal grant of arms through the Canadian Heraldic Authority. The advantage of doing so, of course, is that the resulting coat of arms fully respects the heraldic tradition. As for my coat of arms, the preliminary art came in last week, and I adjusted it slightly in Photoshop to produce the following:

My episcopal coat of arms

The green and gold colours should, of course, be recognizable to readers of this blog, as I have used them ever since I began putting up my own web pages (they are derived from the colours of the Dowd family). Green, in particular, is the colour of hope, and hope is definitely at the core of my spirituality. At the same time, gold represents the glory of God and of heaven, a glory I hope to witness and share in some day. It is the object of my hope.

Old time blog readers will also remember a time when the symbol of a sun had a prominent place (it was later shifted over to the adventus.org website). I have long been inspired by the title given to Christ of “Sun of Justice”, as found in this quote from the prophet Malachi when speaking of the coming Day of the Lord: “But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays” (chapter 3, verse 20).

The stripe, called a bend sinister in heraldic terms, has the same basic shape as a deacon’s stole. It represents the fact that all bishops and priests were once first ordained as deacons, and are called first of all to serve and not be served.

The special horn is actually a shofar, a trumpet traditionally made from the horn of a ram. This musical instrument is meant to announce the glory of God. As well, these sorts of instruments are symbolic of communication at a distance, and so it expresses my interest in media and other means of social communications.

The motto, cor et anima una, is Latin for “one heart and soul”. It is taken from a description of the early Christian community found in the Acts of the Apostles (chapter 4, verse 32). I have already written about my use of this motto here.

Finally, the green hat with tassels, as well as the latin cross, are traditional symbols of the episcopal ministry. Wikipedia has a pretty good article explaining some of the nuances.

I think the artist did a fabulous job, personally. I wanted something very simple and clean: two colours, with a maximum of three easy-to-sketch symbols. Many coats of arms are very complex, and would look good in a tapestry. I wanted something that would look great as a JPEG, and I think I got it. Traditional, yet modern — just the balance I was looking for.