Coat of arms symbolizes his devotion to saints, hope for episcopacy
By Maria Wiering
Wednesday, 01 July 2009
Each bishop receives a coat of arms that symbolizes elements of his life and his diocese. The following is an explanation of Bishop Lee Piché’s coat of arms, which was designed by James-Charles Noonan, Jr. The art of designing and displaying a coat of arms is called “heraldry.”
• The episcopal hat. Known as a “galero,” the hat above the coat of
arms is a symbol of an ordained office. The deep green distinguishes it
as belonging to a bishop. Also known as the “pilgrim’s hat,” the galero
has been in popular use since the Middle Ages. It was first used to
denote a cardinal — in the color red — by Pope Innocent IV at the First
Council of Lyons in 1245. Today, priests and bishops are also entitled
to the galero (in black and green, respectively).
• The tassels. Six green tassels — known as “fiocchi” — fall on either
side of the shield in pyramidal form. As part of the galero, these also
symbolize episcopal rank in the hierarchy of the church. Archbishops,
such as Archbishop John Nienstedt, have 10 fiocchi as part of their
coat of arms.
• The episcopal cross. A processional cross with pronounced
fleur-de-lis and a central sapphire is under the galero. Unique to
Bishop Piché, this cross design pays tribute to his French and
French-Canadian heritage. The sapphire represents philosophy, which
alludes to the office of bishop and the discipline Bishop Piché taught
at the University of St. Thomas.
• The shield. The central element of a coat of arms is the shield, and
Bishop Piché’s shield is divided into two distinct sections,
distinguished by the colors blue and gold. The upper section — called a
“chief” — is worked in blue to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. Like the
sapphire in the cross, it represents philosophic truth and the bishop’s
role as teacher.
An emblem — called a “charge” — of the fleur-de-lis appears in the
center, representing Our Lady of Lourdes. The charge is painted silver
and gold for her purity and motherhood.
Gold wings flank the fleur-de-lis as a symbol of St. Michael the
Archangel in his role as Prince of the Heavenly Hosts and guardian of
the honor of Mary. Together, the silver and gold used in the chief
symbolize faithfulness to the Holy See.
• The sword. The shield’s lower field features an upturned sword and
open book. The sword represents St. Paul, the patron of the
archdiocese. The Pauline symbol also commemorates the Year of St. Paul,
during which Bishop Piché was named a bishop. His ordination was also
on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
The sword is inflamed, which represents St. Paul’s passion for the Word
of God and preaching, as well as the truth found in the Scriptures.
• The open book. The open book of Wisdom is a symbol of St. Anthony of
Padua, who is the patron of Bishop Piché’s middle name. “Sapientia” is
Latin for “wisdom,” and also represents the goal of each bishop.
• The motto. The words “Lucerna Pedi Meo Verbum Tuum” are written in
the banner under the shield. This translates to “Your word is a lamp
for my feet,” which is found in Psalm 119: 105.
Sources: “The Formal Blazon of the Episcopal Arms of His Excellency
the Most Reverend Lee Anthony Piché,” and “The Church Visible,” both
written by James-Charles Noonan, Jr.