Blazon: Arms impaled. Dexter: Argent, a pine tree on a terrace Vert, debruised by a fess embattled Gules: in chief dexter a cross patty fitchy of the last. Sinister: Argent, at the nombril point a sailing ship at anchor Sable; in chief two pairs of wings, Orange.
Significance: The episcopal heraldic achievement of a bishop’s coat of arms is composed of a shield, with its charges (symbols), a motto scroll and the external ornaments.
The shield, which is the central and most important feature of any heraldic device, is described (blazoned) in 12th-century terms that are archaic to our modern language, and this description is done as if being given by the bearer of the shield being worn on the arm. Thus, it must be remembered, where it applies, that the terms dexter (right) and sinister (left) are reversed as the device is viewed from the front.
By heraldic tradition, the arms of the bishop of a diocese, called the “ordinary,” are joined to the arms of his jurisdiction, seen in the dexter impalement (from the front, the left side) of the shield. In this case, these are the arms of the Diocese of Boise.
The arms of the diocese are a variation of the arms of Pope Leo XIII who erected the Diocese of Boise on Aug. 25, 1893. They are composed of a silver (white) field on which are seen a green terrace that has a green pine tree growing forth from it. The name “Boise” suggests a tree and the Latin name of the diocese, Xylopolitanus, meaning “wood city” or “wooded place,” further indicates this.
Across the center of this field is a red, embattled fess (horizontal bar) to represent the fortifications that traditionally surrounded all cities, especially frontier cities like Boise. In the upper left (chief dexter) of Pope Leo’s arms is a comet that is taken from his family’s arms, the Pecci family. In this design, for the Diocese of Boise, that comet has been replaced with a small, red ornamental cross that has a comet-like tail.
For his personal arms, seen in the sinister impalement (right side) of the shield, Bishop Michael P. Driscoll has retained the arms that he adopted when he was named auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Orange, Calif.
These arms are composed of a silver field on which is seen a sailing ship at anchor in black. This is the basic representation of the Driscoll family design and it is used by the bishop to honor the Irish heritage that has come to him from his parents Edmund and Bernardine (Jarding) Driscoll.
The family arms have been “differenced” - to make them particular to Bishop Driscoll - by placing above the ship two pairs of orange wings. One pair of wings is to honor the bishop’s particular and baptismal patron, St. Michael the Archangel. The other set of wings is to honor the Virgin Mary in her title of Queen of the Angels, patroness of the Archdiocese and City of Los Angeles. This symbolism is used to reflect that Bishop Driscoll was originally a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles until 1976, when the Diocese of Orange was created from territory taken from Los Angeles, and he was transferred to the new diocese. Both pairs of wings are in the rare heraldic color of orange to reflect that Bishop Driscoll was a priest and bishop in the Diocese of Orange since its founding.
Because of Bishop Driscoll’s long-standing involvement with Catholic Charities, he uses as his episcopal motto, “Caritas Christi,” which is Latin for “Love of Christ.” By using this phrase, Bishop Driscoll expresses the deep belief that all that we do, we must do for the “Love of Christ” and for the love of his people, especially the disadvantaged -the least of our brothers and sisters.
The device is completed with the external ornaments: a gold processional cross placed in back of the shield and which extends above and below the shield; and, a 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.
By Deacon Paul J. Sullivan
P. Sullivan & Co.