Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Tag Archives: Holy Orders

Encourage & Teach: The Service of Permanent Deacons

ordinationBy: Deacon Marques Silva

From a young age, my parents taught us that service is the duty of every Christian. It was not merely words, but lived out in their daily experience. In fact, I cannot say that we only served on certain holy days or for particular events for the reason that it was a way of life for our family. This love to assist behind the scenes stayed with me as I went off to college, married, and started our family.

Then I was invited by my wife and kids (I did not see it coming) to apply for the permanent diaconate here in the Diocese of Arlington. My question was, “Why?” when I could serve just as well as a lay person. (Read more…)

Axios! Axios! Axios! Blessed be the reign of His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk

In a vote that has astounded the Christendom, Most Rev. Sviatoslav Shevchuk was elected to the senior most post for the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Unofficially, he is considered the “Patriarch” of the see of Kiev-Halych – the birth of Catholicism in the Russia. Though canonically not erected as a patriarchate many have considered this see and it’s Major Archbishop the “fifth” Patriarch of Catholic Christendom. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the largest Eastern Church in full union with the Holy See. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church ended its forced clandestine existence in 1989 after a period of more than 40 years of persecution by the Soviet Authorities.

Why was this an astounding decision? His Beatitude is but 40 years old. Among all the bishops of the Ukrainian-Catholic rite, he is the third youngest bishop.

Between the years of 1999 and 2009 he served as prefect, vice rector and rector of Holy Spirit Seminary in Lviv. In 2001 he was appointed vice-dean of the theological faculty of the Lviv Theological Academy (later the Ukrainian Catholic University). From 2002 to 2005 he was the chief of staff and personal secretary of His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar and the director of the Patriarchal Curia in Lviv. (Source:

Whispers in the Loggia provided some amazing footage of his enthronement (Some days I think I was born into the wrong rite.)

Інтронізація новообраного Глави УГКЦ from Yuriy Bihanskyy on Vimeo.

Plan A: The Blessed Trinity Revealed in Marriage

For those of us who remember the Baltimore Catechism, you likely have those fond memories of Sr. Mary Margaret asking you:

  • “Who made us?”
  • “Why did God make us?”
  • “What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?”

We quickly answered with the appropriate memorized formula and saved our souls from parochial perdition. These are important questions because they address the most basic needs of what it means to be a human being. For us, married men and those who will be following in our footsteps, one of the most intriguing statements we should ask questions about is,

The LORD God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

But why?  The answer to this question seems to be hidden in the reason for our creation:

Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)

Traditionally, we as Catholics, have understood that to be made in the image and likeness of God is to have a spiritual soul that is endowed with the powers of intellect and will: one power to know the truth and the other to choose the good. These powers alone neither sufficiently describe the human person nor explain what it means to be in God’s image and likeness. To answer these questions we need to see how our father, Adam, dealt with these questions.

We know that after Adam was created he experience what JPII termed the “Original Solitude.” This solitude was two-fold. It was first experienced after God led all the animals to Adam who then named them (Genesis 2:20) and found that “none were a suitable partner for him.” It was then Adam discovered that he was substantially different and alone, precisely because he was the only rational being around. Only he could name and till. He discovered that he was the only one who was self-aware. He knew what he was meant for. He knew and could talk with God.

The second experience was an ontological aloneness. We all have a need to share ourselves with an equal. Adam looked around and discovered that there was none like him. There was no one to share his life with. He was truly alone, he was the only human being.

We know the next part of the story…woman. The Lord gave Adam a suitable partner that we call Eve. Symbolized by God taking a rib from his side and forming it outside of Adam and not from dirt, the Lord teaches us that man and woman are equal in dignity. Suddenly, there was another that Adam could share his life with AND, he had no competition.

But, is this the meaning of what the Lord meant when He said that “it is not good for man to be alone.” – yes on one level. But, is there is a deeper truth that He wants us to see as well? The more profound truth is to see that “to be made in the image and likeness of God” and “it is not good for man to be alone” are two truths that find their meaning in each other. As it turns out, only Adam and Eve in their nuptial complimentarily can express the imago deo.

Man became the ‘image and likeness’ of God not only through his own humanity, but also through the communion of persons which man and woman form right from the beginning…Man becomes the image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion. Right ‘from the beginning,’ he is not only an image in which the solitude of a person who rules the world is reflected, but also, and essentially, an image of an inscrutable divine communion of persons.(TOB[1], November 14, 1979)

This human communion of persons is specifically male and female. Only man and woman can consummate the meaning of communion. This communion described in Genesis 2:23-24 dispels original solitude and ushers in the original unity of mankind. They may be alone in a world of creatures, but they have each other. We hear this when Adam exclaims,

This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.’ Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh.

Communion is not just a spiritual or intellectual communion, but a bodily one as well.

Here we now begin to understand what the Lord meant when he formed us in His “image and likeness.” The Blessed Trinity is a communion of persons. In the nuptial act, Scripture teaches that the husband and wife become one flesh. Is this not how Jesus described his communion with the Father (John 10:30)? Isn’t this unity of persons how we describe the nature of the Trinity?

The Church teaches that the three Divine persons of the Trinity are consubstantial. The immanent[2] Trinity’s life is a relationship and life of eternal love. What do we know about this life of love? Revelation has unveiled for us that the Father and the Son’s eternal exchange of self-giving love is so complete that it is the person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus has also taught us through the Last discourses of the Gospel of John that the Trinity is the template and “ideal” (my tribute to Plato) for marriage. The spiritual is revealed through the material and material is giving its true purpose through the mystery unveiled.

It is for this reason that the Church zealously protects the union of spouses. Not just the institution and sacrament of marriage, but the fullest expression of that unity which is their nuptial union. Nothing on earth better describes (although all analogies fall short of the eternal truth) the Trinity than the nuptial union and communion of a husband and wife that needs to name their love.

The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden since time immemorial in God [God’s love for man], and thus to be a sign of it. (TOB, February 20, 1980)

All the sins we connect with sexuality are not just sins of the flesh against us or “the other.” They are also sins against the Most Holy Trinity. The marital gift is meant to point towards an eternal communion and provide that material for meditation to ponder the nature of who God is. The Culture of Death, on the other hand, twists this sacred act and thus who God is and what it means to love not only God but each other:

God created man and woman in such a way that through their bodies it would be self-evident to them that they are called to love, called to give themselves to one another. The very purpose and meaning of life is found in this imaging of God by becoming a gift to another. “God is love.” (1 Jn. 4:16) Therefore, we fulfill the reason for our existence by loving. Our physical bodies were made precisely to show us this and be the means by which we accomplish this. (Anastasia M. Northrop, “The Sincere Gift of Self: The Nuptial Meaning of the Body, October 16, 2003)

Husbands and fathers have an enormous opportunity to teach their children from an early age what marriage and marital communion is meant to point to. They need to hear and see (by word and deed) that our marriage and communion is not only meant to “incarnate” the Trinity, but prepare us to experience the eternal communion of the supper of the Lamb. This is the husband’s responsibility: first with our wives and then our children:

The husband is above all, he who loves and the wife, on the other hand is she who is loved. (TOB, September 1, 1982)

Our children (and the world) need to see we love our wives. And it must start in our hearts. We are meant to express that love first in all that we do and say. Do we hug our wives? Do we say I love you? Did you know that flowers are for more than apologizing or “buttering her up” for something?

From the all eternity the Eternal Father designed marriage to be the instrument to get our spouse to heaven. Pope John Paul II went to great pains to correct the common misunderstanding and attitude that Marriage was somehow inferior to Holy Orders as a means to heaven. He said in his Letter to Families (Familiaris Consortio):

The sacrament of marriage is the specific source and original means of sanctification for Christian married couples and families.

Marriage and the nuptial union are not at odds with celibacy and Holy Orders. In fact, they compliment and vivify each other. While marriage “incarnates” the Blessed Trinity here on earth, Holy Orders points to the consummation of our true marriage and experiencing the life of the Trinity in heaven. There is no marriage between human beings in heaven because we the bride are eternally wed to the heavenly Bridegroom.

The joys of marriage and heaven are too sublime to worthily treat on this blog or in all the tomes of the saints that have passed on to us. But hopefully, this will light a passion in our hearts to study more on the subject and provide a few tidbits for our minds to consider today. Happy Friday!

[1] TOB is a reference to Pope John Paul II’s Wednesday catechetical teachings known as the Theology of the Body.

[2] Immanent Trinity – The internal life of the Trinity; how the divine persons relate to and act within their interior communion.

An Implausible Homily

During the last semester of my diaconal formation, we are focused on homiletics and liturgy.  My last homiletic’s assignment was to prepare a homily (preached today) for a pretend couple that was described as follows:

  • Felicia, 24 year old Hispanic conservative Catholic whose parents are very traditional Catholics (i.e., Tridentine).
  • Achmed, 26 year old Muslim whose parents are very traditional Muslims.

The Gospel was from Matthew 22: 34-40,

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them [a scholar of the law] tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

I had to do considerable amount of research so I could find some common ground…and there is very little; however, here is what I came up with. Overlooking that this scenerio would never occur in real life – one or both sets of the parents would put a stop to it, I was asked to prepared the following homily for their wedding. Feedback is appreciated.

Felicia and Achmed, it is with great pleasure that we celebrate this afternoon, your marriage covenant. All of us are here gathered around you to witness your union in the sight our Lord. But before you offer your vows or nikah to each other, Scripture compels us to ensure that your vows always possess your heart, soul and mind in order that you may glorify the Lord and be blessed through your covenant.

Achmed and Felicia, it is true that you come here today from two very different cultures and religious traditions. And, that is part of the beauty of this solemn occasion. You see, both of our traditions find themselves rooted in a common heritage through the Patriarch Abraham whose life and family was dedicated to honor the Lord. Because of this common heritage, we also have a deep understanding of covenant. It is through Abraham that we begin to understand that while contracts are an exchange of possessions, covenants are an exchange of persons brought together by God. The result, covenant creates family.

The covenant created by God through your vows is a joining of your very selves. We share a common understanding that this covenant makes two indiduals one flesh, which is never meant to be severed during your lives.

This covenant not only unifies both of you, but also your families. And we must admit, as your parents have, this unity may sometimes be a challenge. Felicia, you from a Hispanic Catholic background and Achmed from a traditional Muslim family, are blending two very diverse cultures. But while the differences may seem glaring, the values which your families have instilled within each of you, form the common ground and foundation of a successful marriage.

During your time of marriage preparation, it quickly became clear to me that your families had formed deep within you the virtues of faithfulness, family, service and hospitality.

We live in a culture that does not understand the faithfulness of spouses or the importance of family. This is an essential service you can offer. In a society that needs to rediscover that covenant cannot be tossed aside, but requires hard work and commitment, you can be that witness.

Our culture also does not prize close family bonds. Your strong family roots through this covenant will be permanently fused. Both of your families, from this day forward, will now be one through your marriage. The love and firmly rooted faith of your families will not only serve to strengthen and support your marriage vows but will serve as a place of healing and comfort in times of need. I am convinced that your families will be there to share in your joys and triumphs…and support you in times of sorrow and trial. Your continuing commitment to involve extended family in your marriage, will be a glorious witness to the world that our God desires all to be one.

Both of our religious traditions have inherited from Abraham a strong sense of hospitality. The openness of your home to the stranger in need, and your commitment to the less fortunate among us, not only honors the Lord, but makes real His sovereignty among us. Even here today in this Church are the first fruits of your love for one another. Our Lord’s command to serve and love our neighbor is evidenced by our honored guests here among us.

We who are gathered here today, now urge you in the sight of God, to be faithful to your vows and duties as husband and wife. We charge you to place your marriage at the service of the less fortunate and to always have the Lord in your heart, soul and mind. For it is the Lord that will now hear your nikah and blesses you through this marriage covenant. And now, without distraction, and with a firm purpose, let us hear you declare your intention and vows.

Catholic Hierarchy: The Patriarch

Many Roman or Latin Rite Catholics do not know what a Patriarch is. Literally, it means “Prince of Fathers”. They are the highest rulers in their Churches with only the Pope having authority over them. Since the Eastern Schism in 1054,  their importance, except for that of the Pope, has greatly diminished. They are without jurisdiction except in virtue of some particular law.

On March 2, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI dropped the traditional title of Patriarch of the West. His hope in doing so is ,

to eliminate one possible obstacle to ecumenical progress with the Orthodox world, the Holy Father has renounced the title “Patriarch of the West.” (Source)

The Holy Father is now identified by the Annuario as:

Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God.

In the order of precedence:

  1. Patriarch
  2. Primate
  3. Metropolitan
  4. Bishop

In oder of dignity, the Patriarch of Rome precedes the following Rites:

  1. Armenian
  2. Maronite
  3. Melkite
  4. Chaldean

The minor Patriarchs include:

  1. Venice
  2. Lisbon
  3. West Indies
  4. East Indies

The rights and roles of the Patriarch include:

  1. Ordain all bishops of their patriarchate.
  2. Consecrate the holy chrism.
  3. Summon synods.
  4. Send the omophorion (pallium) to their Metropolitans.
  5. Hear appeals from lower courts.

Here is a jurisdictional map of the various Patrichates circa 451.

Holy Father speaks with Bishops


My dear Brother Bishops,

This has been a day of great joy for the Catholic community in these islands. Blessed John Henry Newman, as we may now call him, has been raised to the altars as an example of heroic faithfulness to the Gospel and an intercessor for the Church in this land that he loved and served so well. Here in this very chapel in 1852, he gave voice to the new confidence and vitality of the Catholic community in England and Wales after the restoration of the hierarchy, and his words could be applied equally to Scotland a quarter of a century later. His beatification today is a reminder of the Holy Spirit’s continuing action in calling forth gifts of holiness from among the people of Great Britain, so that from east to west and from north to south, a perfect offering of praise and thanksgiving may be made to the glory of God’s name.

I thank Cardinal O’Brien and Archbishop Nichols for their words, and in so doing, I am reminded how recently I was able to welcome all of you to Rome for the Ad Limina visits of your respective Episcopal Conferences. We spoke then about some of the challenges you face as you lead your people in faith, particularly regarding the urgent need to proclaim the Gospel afresh in a highly secularized environment. In the course of my visit it has become clear to me how deep a thirst there is among the British people for the Good News of Jesus Christ. You have been chosen by God to offer them the living water of the Gospel, encouraging them to place their hopes, not in the vain enticements of this world, but in the firm assurances of the next. As you proclaim the coming of the Kingdom, with its promise of hope for the poor and the needy, the sick and the elderly, the unborn and the neglected, be sure to present in its fulness the life-giving message of the Gospel, including those elements which call into question the widespread assumptions of today’s culture. As you know, a Pontifical Council has recently been established for the New Evangelization of countries of long-standing Christian tradition, and I would encourage you to avail yourselves of its services in addressing the task before you. Moreover, many of the new ecclesial movements have a particular charism for evangelization, and I know that you will continue to explore appropriate and effective ways of involving them in the mission of the Church.

Since your visit to Rome, political changes in the United Kingdom have focused attention on the consequences of the financial crisis, which has caused so much hardship to countless individuals and families. The spectre of unemployment is casting its shadow over many people’s lives, and the long-term cost of the ill-advised investment practices of recent times is becoming all too evident. In these circumstances, there will be additional calls on the characteristic generosity of British Catholics, and I know that you will take a lead in calling for solidarity with those in need. The prophetic voice of Christians has an important role in highlighting the needs of the poor and disadvantaged, who can so easily be overlooked in the allocation of limited resources. In their teaching document Choosing the Common Good, the Bishops of England and Wales underlined the importance of the practice of virtue in public life. Today’s circumstances provide a good opportunity to reinforce that message, and indeed to encourage people to aspire to higher moral values in every area of their lives, against a background of growing cynicism regarding even the possibility of virtuous living.

Another matter which has received much attention in recent months, and which seriously undermines the moral credibility of Church leaders, is the shameful abuse of children and young people by priests and religious. I have spoken on many occasions of the deep wounds that such behaviour causes, in the victims first and foremost, but also in the relationships of trust that should exist between priests and people, between priests and their bishops, and between the Church authorities and the public. I know that you have taken serious steps to remedy this situation, to ensure that children are effectively protected from harm and to deal properly and transparently with allegations as they arise. You have publicly acknowledged your deep regret over what has happened, and the often inadequate ways it was addressed in the past. Your growing awareness of the extent of child abuse in society, its devastating effects, and the need to provide proper victim support should serve as an incentive to share the lessons you have learned with the wider community. Indeed, what better way could there be of making reparation for these sins than by reaching out, in a humble spirit of compassion, towards children who continue to suffer abuse elsewhere? Our duty of care towards the young demands nothing less.

As we reflect on the human frailty that these tragic events so starkly reveal, we are reminded that, if we are to be effective Christian leaders, we must live lives of the utmost integrity, humility and holiness. As Blessed John Henry Newman once wrote, “O that God would grant the clergy to feel their weakness as sinful men, and the people to sympathize with them and love them and pray for their increase in all good gifts of grace” (Sermon, 22 March 1829). I pray that among the graces of this visit will be a renewed dedication on the part of Christian leaders to the prophetic vocation they have received, and a new appreciation on the part of the people for the great gift of the ordained ministry. Prayer for vocations will then arise spontaneously, and we may be confident that the Lord will respond by sending labourers to bring in the plentiful harvest that he has prepared throughout the United Kingdom (cf. Mt 9:37-38). In this regard, I am glad that I will shortly have the opportunity to meet the seminarians of England, Scotland and Wales, and to assure them of my prayers as they prepare to play their part in bringing in that harvest.

Finally, I should like to speak to you about two specific matters that affect your episcopal ministry at this time. One is the imminent publication of the new translation of the Roman Missal. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for the contribution you have made, with such painstaking care, to the collegial exercise of reviewing and approving the texts. This has provided an immense service to Catholics throughout the English-speaking world. I encourage you now to seize the opportunity that the new translation offers for in-depth catechesis on the Eucharist and renewed devotion in the manner of its celebration. “The more lively the eucharistic faith of the people of God, the deeper is its sharing in ecclesial life in steadfast commitment to the mission entrusted by Christ to his disciples” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 6). The other matter I touched upon in February with the Bishops of England and Wales, when I asked you to be generous in implementing the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. This should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all. Let us continue to pray and work unceasingly in order to hasten the joyful day when that goal can be accomplished.

With these sentiments, I thank you warmly for your hospitality over the past four days. Commending all of you and the people you serve to the intercession of Saint Andrew, Saint David and Saint George, I am pleased to impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the clergy, religious and lay faithful of England, Scotland and Wales.

Angel at the Blackboard

If I was to pick an individual who’s writing and talks have impacted my life and current ministry, it would be that of  Archbishop Fulton Sheen. In the mid-nineties, I began listening to his Lenten Retreat Sermons. Next was reading his Magnum Opus, Life of Christ.  His eloquence and clarity is phenomenal and all is writings accessible. He is the perfect blend of humor, truth and Thomism. In fact, my wife and I use his short meditations, The Seven Last Words and Characters of the Passion for our reading on Good Friday every year. The funny thing is that we just switch each year – don’t even bother to try something new.

Last night I had the privileged of participate in a documentary screening of his life. The event was hosted by Fr. Specht at Holy Spirit parish who is a devout disciple of Archbishop Sheen. My two oldest joined me for the viewing and thoroughly enjoyed it. In addition, one of Bishop Sheen’s cousins was able to join us and answer questions about him. If you are a DRE, Youth Minister or work in Parish formation, I highly encourage hosting a viewing at your parish of this documentary.

I must recommend the documentary produced by the Fulton Sheen Foundation that is committed to making:

known the life, works and thoughts of Archbishop Sheen and to lead others to a deeper relationship with God and His church through the Archbishop’s example and intercessions. The Foundation, based in Sheen’s home Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, works to advance the Cause for the Canonization of Archbishop Sheen according to the process of the Catholic Church. (Source: Foundation Web site)

Here are a few fast facts that I did not know about Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

  • His first name is Peter not Fulton.
  • Bishop Spalding (Diocese of Peoria) told Sheen when he was an eight year old altar server to go home and tell his parents that one day he would be school at the Catholic University of Leuven (same institution Spalding studied at) and that he would be a Bishop.
  • Blessed Mother Teresa always traveled with a copy of Sheen’s Life of Christ with her when and wherever she traveled. In fact, she made sure her order read the book during Lent each year.
  • Blessed Pope John Paul II learned English using Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s television series.
  • He is the only Catholic clerical personality to ever receive an Emmy. Upon reception, he thanked his writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Never heard him speak? Here is a sample:

The Beauty of the Cistercians

Thanks to the New Liturgical Movement blog for this inspiring story.

Ordinations and Continuing Surge of Vocations at Heiligenkreuz

by Gregor Kollmorgen

On 16 August 2010, the Auxiliary Bishop of Graz-Seckau, H.E. Msgr. Franz Lackner OFM, ordained four monks of the Austrian Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz, which is of course well known to NLM readers (cf. here), to the sacred diaconate. Here are two pictures; in the second, you can see, in addition to the bishop and the newly ordianed, the abbot of Heiligenkreuz (to the right) and another monk of Heiligenkreuz who was recently elected abbot of another Austrian Cistercian Abbey, Rein.

There also is a video:

This is part of a truly wonderful vocational development at Heiligenkreuz. On the Sunday before the ordinations, on the Feast of the Assumption, seven monks have made their perpetual vows; and today, at First Vespers of the feast of St. Bernard, seven new novices were accepted and clothed:

Counting all monks and novices, there are as of today 88 cistercians at Heiligenkreuz.

In Service of a Bishop

Deacons are ordained to be a Bishop’s “eyes and ears” within the particular church. While a priest is tied to an altar, a Deacon is tied to a diocese and in a special way, his Bishop and all his successors.

As an individual who is a huge fan of Cardinal Newman and a candidate for diaconal ordination in January 2011, the following story caught my attention. Here we have a Deacon still serving a Bishop – even in death.

Healed Deacon to Assist at Newman Beatification

BIRMINGHAM, England ( – The deacon who was miraculously healed thanks to the intercession of Cardinal John Henry Newman will serve at the papal Mass when the cardinal is beatified.

Deacon Jack Sullivan of the Archdiocese of Boston was healed of a spinal disorder after he asked for Cardinal Newman’s intercession.

At Benedict XVI’s Mass in Birmingham on Sept. 19 for the English cardinal’s beatification, Deacon Sullivan will proclaim the Gospel and serve the Mass as deacon.

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham told the Catholic Herald that recognizing Cardinal Newman’s intercession will be at the heart of the beatification.

“We can speak about prayer to the saints as part of the life of the Church,” he said. “We feel a closeness to those who are part of the communion of the saints.”

The archbishop noted that he recently met Deacon Sullivan, and will be hosting the deacon, his wife and members of their family as his personal guests.

Archbishop Longley also suggested that the beatification is one of the main reasons Benedict XVI decided to travel to the United Kingdom.

Ecclesial Heraldry: Archbishops and Bishops

Heraldry also demonstrates the rank of a prelate.  The following is a summary of the heraldry for Archbishops and Bishops from the Web Site Heraldica:

Archbishops and Bishops

The first marks of their rank was the crosier, and later the mitre. Bishops began using the hat in the late 16th c., and the use quickly spread, the number of tassels increasing over time. The current use, defined by the Congregation of the Ceremonial in 1832, is as follows:

  • Patriarchs. Primates, Archbishops: green hat with 4 rows, patriarchal cross in pale behind the shield.
  • Fiochetti Prelates (4 Officers of the Apostolic Chamber: Vice-Camerlingo, General Auditor, General Treasurer, Majordomo of His Holiness): purple hat with 4 rows of red tassels
  • Bishops: green hat with 3 rows, simple cross.
  • Apostolic Proto-notaries, various prelates of the Papal household, vicars-general: purple hat with 3 rows of various colors.
  • Apostolic prefects, canons of basilicas, major cathedrals: black hat with 3 rows of various colors.

In Italy, the hat completely replaced the mitre but in France, bishops often added on top of the shield (and below the hat) a mitre in dexter and a crosier in sinister. In the 18th c., archbishops often used 5 rows and bishops 4 rows.

Bishops with temporal powers usually indicated them in some fashion. In Germany, a crosier and a sword were placed in saltire behind the shield, and helmets bearing crests were placed on it. In France, the 6 (later 7) ecclesiastical peers placed the coronet of their title under the hat, and a peer’s mantle behind the achievement. But other bishops held titles as well, such as count or baron, and used the appropriate coronet. The bishop of Le Puy was count of Velay and traditionally placed a sword in pale behind the shield. Otherwise, coronets indicating personal or family titles were prohibited in 1915.

Arms of the bishop of Rimini (Italy)

In Napoleonic heraldry prelates added the toque of their ranks (archbishops were counts, bishops were barons).

A decision of Dec 19, 1644 prohibited cardinals from exhibiting any secular dignities in the exterior ornaments of their arms. A decree of Jan 15, 1915 extended this decision and prohibited bishops from displaying any marks of personal nobility. A decree of May 12, 1951 prohibits all insignia of secular dignities, even those attached to the see or the function. The insignia of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Order of the Holy Sepulcher are exempt.

An instruction of April 13, 1969 abolished the use of the crozier and mitre.