Ecclesiastical Heraldry
Written by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A., Clan Malcolm, P.G.S.A., P.G.S.M.

The music playing is "Sing of Mary"
from The Catholic Web Author's Resource Site

In Stefan Oliver's An Introduction of Heraldry. he states:

Heraldic-like devices have been used by churches since the beginning of Christianity. Ecclesiastical establishments have been granted land by the sovereign or, through piety or the desire to expiate sins, by landowners. Since the earliest times, therefore, they have had to fulfill the role of lord of the manor. Consequently, they have needed to use seals, badges, and other devices to identify themselves and their retainers. These devices developed along Heraldic lines over the centuries and, although different denominations have different traditions, some general comments can be made.

The Arms of Pope John Paul II
The Pope's motto is "Totus Tuus" ("all yours")

FACT: The cross used in Pope John Paul II's crest is the passion or Latin Cross

FACT: The motto and the "M" on John Paul II's coat of arms both refer to the Virgin Mary. The Cross and letter "M" symbolizes Mary standing under the Holy Cross upon which her son, Jesus Christ died. This was only one of Mary's Dolors (sorrows). Pope John Paul II is a devotee of Marion beliefs. See my page about Mary. .

The Motto "Totus Tuus" Comes From This Prayer
Totus Tuus ego sum
Et omnia mea Tua sunt.
Accipio Te in mea omnia.
Praebe mihi cor Tuum,
I belong to you entirely
And all that I possess is yours.
I take you into everything that is mine.
Give me your heart.

This prayer, of entrustment to the Virgin Mary, is Pope John Paul's own adaptation of two invocations by Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716). It is one of the Holy Father's favorities, and he recites it daily(Burke

FACT: Pope John Paul II chose this coat of arms some twenty (20) years before he was made a successor of St. Peter, when he was named bishop in Poland (Burke).



Pope Benedict XVI's Arms

This painting shows Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)
wearing the Papal Triple Crown
(Mary Evans Picture Library).

The tiara is the triple crown of the pope. The shape of the hat on which three crowns are placed has long been considered an emblem of liberty and the three crowns are said to symbolize the pope's supremacy over the Church militant, the Church penitent and the Church triumphant, They also symbolize his three roles as priest, pastor, and teacher.

Crossed Keys of St. Peter:

These are always shown with the tiara as a symbol of the papacy and are commonly placed on the red shield. A pope will place the tiara over the papal arms and the crossed keys behind his personal arms. The keys symbolize the power to bind or lock in and to set free or loose ( Oliver ).

The Cross stands for Christianity. Catholics are Christians. The symbolism comes from Christ's crucifixion on a cross. Worldwide there are numerous flags, crests, coats of arms, and banners that bear a cross.

Most likely Polish families used the Church's Cross to establish their devotion as Christians. Pope John Paul II has never worn the Papal Triple Crown, but prefers the mitre of the papacy.

The Cardinal's arms of Pope John Paul II are red and white. Red has been the color of cardinal's robes since before the Renaissance. The Church established the design of the Cardinal's banner as a red background with white lettering.

This is His Holiness as a Cardinal

This is the Banner of Cardinal Wolsey of England
Note the color red (standing for a cardinal) and the use of the cross (for the Christian faith)



Burke, Greg. An Invitation to Joy: Selections from the writing and speeches of His Holiness John Paul II. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000

Oliver, Stefan. An Introduction to Heraldry. Edison, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, Inc., 1997,104


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