Bishops choose coats of arms

By Catholic New World
Sunday, August 14, 2011

Each bishop has his own coat of arms that bears his episcopal motto — usually a quote from Scripture — and symbols that have some personal significance to the man. These coats of arms are used on documents and letterhead and other items pertaining to that bishop. Below are the coats of arms and their descriptions for our two new bishops. Both designs were done and explained by Deacon Paul Sullivan of Saunderstown, R.I.

The episcopal heraldic achievement, or bishop’s coat of arms, is composed of a shield with its charges (symbols), a motto scroll and the external ornamentation. The shield is the central and most important feature of any heraldic device.

The achievement is completed with the external ornaments, which are a gold processional cross, that is placed in back of and which extends above and below the shield, and the pontifical hat, called a “gallero,” with its six tassels, in three rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of bishop by instruction of the Holy See of March 31, 1969.

Bishop Alberto Rojas

These arms are composed of two sections. The main (lower) section is wavy bars of two shades of blue, to represent water, and therefore to honor the Blessed Mother in her title of Our Lady of the Lake, patroness of the seminary at Mundelein where the bishop served for seven years.

Upon this field is a silver (white) representation of the gate at the entrance to the bishop’s home village in Mexico surrounded by three fleur-de-lis, to honor his mother, Maria. Also, on the blue field are five golden (yellow) stars, which combined with the background remind us of the mantle of Our Blessed Mother, in her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas.

The upper portion of the design, known as a “chief,” is gold (yellow) on which is issuant from the base a red sunburst. This sun is to represent the Son, who shines upon us all as we endeavor to do his will.

For his motto, Bishop Rojas has selected the phrase, and presented it in both Spanish and English, “God’s love is all we need.” In this phrase, Bishop Rojas expresses that with the Lord, Jesus Christ, the love he gives to all his children is all that any of us need to achieve eternal life.

Bishop Andrew Wypych

The main portion for the design is an inverted “V” shape, technically called “an inverted pile,” with bowed sides in silver (white). Upon this inverted pile, in the center of the design, is a red Latin cross to signify that the center of all ministry and the center of all Christian lives is the cross of Jesus Christ.

Under this cross are seven red tongues of fire to represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the tools by which we serve the Lord God in whatever we do.

To the upper left (“chief dexter”), on a red field, is the letter “K” surmounted by a small crown, in silver (white), that is a recognizable symbol from the main door of the Cathedral of Krakow, Poland, where Bishop Wypych was ordained a priest.

To the upper right (“chief sinister”), on a blue field is a gold (yellow) chalice with a silver (white) host issuant from the cup. This is a classic symbol for the holy priesthood of Jesus Christ that Bishop Wypych has had the honor to serve since 1979.

The colors of the arms represent the colors of the flags of the bishop’s homeland, Poland; his new home, the United States; and the colors of the flags of the many nations represented in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

For his motto, Bishop Wypych has selected the phrase “The love of Christ impels us.” This phrase from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 5:14) expresses the bishop’s firm belief that for those who know Jesus as the Christ, the personal knowledge and love of him as Lord directs and impels all that we do as Christians.