The Coat of Arms of His Excellency the Most Reverend John Kevin Boland, D.D.

The Bishops' Coat of Arms

Motto: "Christus In Corde" (Christ in the heart) is adapted from the breastplate of St. Patrick: "Christ be in the heart of each to whom I speak, Christ be in the heart of each who speaks to me." The Latin words chosen can be either a statement or a wish, implying some form of "to be" -- either "is" or "be," or both -- and applies to the bishop himself, as well as to those to whom he ministers.

Blazon: Impaled Arms: On the dexter for the Diocese of Savannah; Argent on a cross gules, a rose or between four mullets azure. On the sinister for Bishop Boland; Azure a round tower or, on a chief of the last, a lion passant gules langued and armed of the first.

Significance: The entire "achievement" or coat of arms, as it is generally called, is composed of the shield with its charges, the motto and the external ornaments. As one looks at the shield, the terms dexter and sinister must be understood contrariwise, as the shield was worn the arm in medieval days, and these terms were used in relationship of the one behind the armor.

The dexter impalement, on the left of the viewer, bears, according to custom in ecclesiastical heraldry, the jurisdictional arms of the Diocese of Savannah. Its background is silver (argent). The cross of red (gules), also called the Cross of St. George, symbolizes the state of Georgia which was named for King George II. The four blue (azure) stars signify that Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the Constitution of the United States. The gold (or) rose represents the Cherokee rose which is Georgia's state flower and is also associated with the Rose of Sharon as well as Mary, the Mystical Rose.

The sinister impalement, on the right of the viewer, displays the personal Arms of Bishop Boland. By combining the personal Arms on the same shield with those of the Diocese of Savannah, the spiritual unity of the Bishop with his flock is signified, a thought also conveyed by the ring which the Bishop wears on his right hand. The personal Arms of Bishop Boland consist of a blue (azure) shield charged with a round tower of gold (or), representative of St. Kevin, the bishop's patron saint who founded a monastic settlement at Glendalough, County Wicklow, where a round tower can be found to this day. In the "chief," or upper portion of the shield, is a red (gules) lion in a walking position with tongue and claws of blue. The chief and lion are found in the Arms of the Irish sept of Boland and the lion also commemorates the sept of O'Brien, the bishop's maternal family.

Behind the Arms is placed a gold processional cross for which Bishop Boland has chosen a Celtic cross signifying his homeland. Ensigning the whole achievement is a pontifical hat with it six tassels on each side disposed in three rows, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of bishop in accordance with the Instruction of the Holy See, dated 31 March, 1969. Before 1870 the pontifical hat was worn at solemn cavalcades held in conjunction with papal ceremonies. The color of the hat and the number of tassels were signs of the rank of the prelate, a custom still preserved in ecclesiastical heraldry.

Source: The Southern Cross, April 20, 1995

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