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Year of Faith Coat of Arms

khe-coa-webOur Franciscan "Year of Faith" Blazon, or coat of arms, is inspired by St Francis' great simplicity and the humility which triumphs over the enemy, pride, within his heart. It borrows from our heritage coat of arms designed by Mother Angelica.

The escutcheon, or shield shape, is of French origin and common in the 11th and 12th Century of St. Francis' day throughout Umbria.

The black center pillar is derived from the Templar Cross and alludes to two swords coming together in defense of the Temple of Jerusalem.

At its base, is the Byzantine double cross, also known as the Patriarch's cross or the Cross of Lorraine (France).  The Patriarch of Jerusalem handed the Knights of the First Crusade the use of this cross in their struggle to open the gates of Jerusalem to Christian pilgrims in 1099.


Earlier in the 9th Century the double cross was carried by Sts. Cyril and Methodius as an emblem of evangelization to the Slavs and beyond; a pushing back of the darkness. It passes from King Svatopluk I of the Great Moravian Kingdom to his godson Zwentibold of Lorrain, and establishes itself via French culture, the stories and songs of Christian chivalry, into Italy. Assisi's old merchant district of San Pietro has used the double cross design since the 13th Century. All five colors, the white on blue, and the red, gold, and green are also the ancient colors of Assisi's coat of arms. Francis fought and struggled under these familiar colors and forms.

The double cross has also been used by early French Jesuit missionaries in the New World, a symbol that helped convert native people as the two arms resembled existing local imagery. In the 1940's it flew to represent Free France and serve as an antidote to the Nazi Swastika by forces led by General de Gaulle; cross against anti-cross, or media against anti-media.  Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, used the double cross in his bishop's coat of arms. It is evident in the holy services of World Youth Day 2013 in Rio. Its rich heritage is a symbol of our unique role in the new evangelization.

The left "lung" of the shield is green -- symbolic of humility, service, and the appreciation of our Franciscan bond of stewardship to the created world. Across its top are three stars, eight point stars always symbolic of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who helps us as model and intercessor to achieve the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, and fulfill our vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience -- as professed lay Franciscan brothers.

jesuit-lorrain-cross-onondagaA rosary from the Onondaga Mission,
with a Loc Derg Irish Cross (aka
St. Patrick's Purgatory) and the larger
detached Cross of Lorraine. These
were found at the Onondaga Indian
Mission which operated from 1656 to
1658 at Saint Marie de Ganentaa,
New York.

The right "lung" is blue with a white "fleur de lis", again symbolic of Mary our model of purity, humility, and simplicity. It is a reminder of our special bond, as little brothers to the Poor Clares.

Binding the two panels together is the heart - the Blessed Sacrament, our Eucharistic Lord Jesus. It is he who sustains us, gives us strength for the battle, and shields us when we fall.  It is held in place by a golden cross representative of a monstrance in the papal yellow color to denote our faithfulness to the Vicar of Christ, our Holy Father the Pope and obedience to the Church of Rome, and her consecrated bishops.

The red and white battlements represent our willingness to defend the Catholic Church, it's sacred liturgy, and the pilgrims who come to be renewed. It also represents our need to serve with hospitality clergy and lay people alike, our unique role in serving at both Novus Ordo and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite. Thirdly, the red and white rays are a reminder that we live in the age of Divine Mercy.

Together these elements within our special Year of Faith blazon summarize our vows and charisms as we enter our 16th year of community.


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