New Archbishop's Life and Legacy
Archbishop Wilton Gregory’s Coat of Arms
May 13, 2019
Blazon (heraldic description):
Arms impaled. In the dexter: Quarterly azure and gules, a cross bottony over all quarterly or and argent; 1, a crescent argent; 2, three mullets of six points fesswise in chief argent; 3, as many mullets of five points fesswise in chief argent; 4, a head erased affronté and winged all argent. In the sinister: Argent, on a cross gules a cross sable fimbriated vert; 1, a raven proper; 2, a bear rampant of the third; 3, a fleur-de-lis of the second; 4, a phoenix or issuant from flames of the second.
The dexter impalement (on the observer’s left) displays the arms of the Archdiocese of Washington, which consist of a shield quartered in blue and red, charged with a cross bottony - each limb terminating in three knobs - quartered in gold (yellow) and silver (white), based on the cross in the arms of Maryland. The cross, in the traditional papal colors, together with the red, white and blue of the overall design, symbolizes the presence of the Catholic Church in Washington, DC, the nation’s capital, and in the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles.
In the first quarter is a silver crescent, a traditional symbol of the Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of the Archdiocese, and patroness of the United States under the title of her Immaculate Conception. The three six-pointed silver stars in the second quarter are taken from the arms of Pope Pius VI, who reigned at the time of the Declaration of Independence. The three five-pointed silver stars in the third quarter are adapted from the arms of George Washington. In the fourth quarter, the man’s face between two wings in silver represents the “man” envisioned in Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 4, a traditional symbol of Saint Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist, the patron of the Cathedral.
The sinister impalement (on the observer’s right) displays the personal arms of Archbishop Gregory, adopted when he was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago and used by him as Bishop of Belleville and as Archbishop of Atlanta.
On a silver (white) field is a cross of black on green on red. These colors are often associated with African-American culture and faith, and by their use on the cross Archbishop Gregory honors the religious and racial heritage that has come to him from his parents, Wilton and Ethel (Duncan) Gregory.
In the first quarter is a raven, to honor the Archbishop’s Benedictine education at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. The black bear in the second quarter is taken from the arms of His Eminence, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, his principal episcopal consecrator. The fleur-de-lis in the third quarter, here in red, is taken from the arms of the Mundelein Seminary in Chicago, where Archbishop Gregory was both a student and faculty member. In the fourth quarter a golden phoenix coming forth from red flames honors the City of Chicago, reborn after the Great Fire of 1871.
Behind the arms is placed a gold double-traversed processional cross, symbolic of the archiepiscopal rank. Over the whole achievement is a bishop’s hat, or galero, with ten tassels pendent on each side, in four rows, all in green, also for an archbishop.
For his motto, Archbishop Gregory chose “We are the Lord’s,” taken from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, which expresses his deep Christian belief that in all that we are, and in all that we do, “we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14: 8).
The arms of the Archdiocese of Washington were devised in December 1947 by William F. J. Ryan (1903-1981) of New York, and slightly modified in September 2001, when the cross bottony was substituted for the original cross of chain links in silver. The emblazonment of the modified version of the arms was undertaken by Anthony W. C. Phelps (1931-2005) of Cleveland, Ohio. Archbishop Gregory’s personal arms were devised by Rev. Mr. Paul J. Sullivan, Permanent Deacon of the Diocese of Providence.
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