Bishops choose coats of arms

By Chicago Catholic
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

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 the three new bishops. The designs were created and explained by Deacon Paul Sullivan of Narragansett, Rhode Island. 

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 “galero,” 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.

Bishop Mark Bartosic

Blazon: Argent, at center, upon a cross throughout azure, a plate charged with the monogram of the Holy Name, sable; to chief dexter a pear tree and to base sinister a bumble bee, both proper.

Significance: As a bishop without jurisdiction, Bishop Bartosic’s design cover the entire shield of the device.

These arms are composed of a silver (white) field on which is placed a blue cross for the faith of Jesus and it is in the color associated with “the first Christian,” the Virgin Mary. 

At the center of  the cross is a “plate,” a silver (white) roundel (roundels of other colors have specific names in heraldry) that is charged with the monogram of the Holy Name (IHS) in black. This is to signify that the Eucharist is, and should be, the center of every Christian’s life, but most especially the life of a priest.

In the upper left (chief dexter) is a pear tree and in the lower right (base sinister) a honey bee, both proper; that is: as they appear in nature. These symbolize his mother’s surname (Peerenboom) and the derivation of “Bartosic” from “Bartnictwo,”one who harvests the honey of wild bees. Together the images evoke the 58 years of his parents’ marriage, an icon for the bishop of the “great mystery” that St. Paul refers to Christ and the church. 

For his motto, Bishop Bartosic has adopted the Latin phrase “Ego ero in patrem.” This motto, taken from the Second book of Samuel (2 Sm 7:14), expresses Bishop Bartosic’s joy in the call to be “father, brother and friend to all” first through his baptism and now through the fullness of holy orders.

Bishop Robert Casey

Blazon: Argent and gules; a chevron party per chevron between in chief six stars, in two groups each two and one and in base an escallop all counterchanged.

Significance: As a bishop without jurisdiction, Bishop Casey’s design cover the entire shield of the device.

These arms are composed of a field that is divided by a double chevron. The top of the design is silver (white) and has six red stars in two groups of three, each two above one. Below the chevron is a silver (white) escallop on a red field. The chevron is red and silver (white). This alternation of colors is known as “counterchanged.” 

The bishop’s family heritage are the Casey and the Carmody families. Each family’s arms are red and silver (white) and bear a chevron. Thus, the doubled chevron honors that ancestry.

Bishop Casey has a devotion to St. James, usually represented by a scallop shell, and as he carried the faith to Spain, the path of his journey became known as “The Compostela,” and is guided by the stars, the classic representation of the Virgin Mary.

For his motto, Bishop Casey has adopted the English phrase “Into your hands.” This phrase, part of the last sentence Jesus spoke on the cross, (Lk 23:46) expresses Bishop Casey’s belief that all that we are and all that we do becomes successful and grace-filled if we submit to God’s way and to his direction.

Bishop Ronald Hicks

Blazon: Azure, upon a fess wavy argent a sprig of rosemary proper; to chief per saltire a sword upon a quill below a heart gules fimbriated of the second, in base a spring of lily of three blossoms, also of the second.

Significance: As a bishop without jurisdiction, Bishop Hick’s design cover the entire shield of the device.

These arms are composed of a blue field on which is seen a silver (white) wavy bar across the center of  the design, heraldically known as “a fess.” The wavy bar, indicative of water, symbolizes Lake Michigan, to honor the bishop’s home town of South Holland. 

Upon this fess is a sprig of rosemary, referred to as “proper,” that is, “as it appears in nature,” to honor the martyred archbishop of El Salvador, Oscar Romero, who will be canonized in October 2018. The Spanish word for the herb rosemary is “romero.” 

Above the fess are a quill and sword, both in gold (yellow) and crossed in an “X” form, know as “per saltire,” to honor St. Paul, because of his writings that were so important for the bishop, who grew up in an ecumenical family. These charges are placed below a red rose, outlined in silver (white), referred to a “fimbriated,” to honor the bishop’s service with the NPH (Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”), a “heartfelt people,” who care for orphans and abandoned children throughout Central and South America.

In base is a silver (white) three-blossom sprig of lilies that is taken from the arms of  the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, where the bishop attended the seminary, earned his doctorate in ministry and served on the faculty and staff.

For his motto, Bishop Hicks has adopted the motto in Spanish “Paz y bien.” This phrase, attributed to St. Francis, emphasizes that true peace comes from Christ and all the good he shares through his word and sacraments.


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