Archbishop Sheehan
Coat of Arms
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John Paul II-1998


The archepiscopal heraldic achievement, or as it is more commonly known, the archbishop'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 modem ways of speech. The description is given as if done by the bearer and the device was being worn on the arm and is viewed from the rear. Thus, it must be understood that the terms dexter and sinister are reversed as the design is viewed from the front.

By heraldic tradition, the arms of an archbishop, or bishop of a diocese, are joined (impaled) with the arms of his jurisdiction, seen in the dexter impalement (left side) of the shield, in this case the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

These arms are composed of a red field (background) on which is displayed a gold (yellow) cross, of "The Faith," to signify the name of the See City, "Holy Faith." In the upper left quarter, that is created by the cross, is a tower triple-towered, of Castile (Spain). Issuant from the base of these arms are the crossed arms of Christ and St. Francis of Assisi, a classic representation of St.Francis, to honor the titular of the Cathedral in the See City. All these arms are rendered in red and gold (yellow) which are traditional Spanish colors, signifying that the area around Santa Fe was, for a long time, a Spanish Colony.

For his personal arms, seen in the sinister impalement (right side) of the device, His Excellency, Archbishop Sheehan continues to use a design that was adopted at the time of his selection to receive the fullness of Christ's most holy priesthood, as a bishop, and become the first Bishop of Lubbock.

These arms are composed of a blue field with a gold (yellow) bar (fess) across the center. On this fess is the conjoined circle and triangle that is used to represent The Holy Trinity, titular of the seminary that His Excellency served as being Rector. Above the fess is a silver (white) dove holding a silver olive branch in its beak. These symbols are taken from the "Sheehan" family device and honor the heritage of the Archbishop's parents John Edward and Mildred Jarboe Sheehan. Issuant from the bottom of the Archbishop's arms is the silver (white) dome of St. Peter's Basilica, in Rome, which is placed below a gold (yellow) Roman Numeral two (II) to signify that Archbishop Sheehan was in St. Peter's on the day that Vatican Council II opened.

In the spirit of Vatican II, Archbishop Sheehan has retained the motto "LOVE ONE ANOTHER CONSTANTLY." In this phrase, the true basis of Christ's teaching, the Archbishop expresses his deep belief that we all must follow the teachings of our Divine Lord and lone one another at all times.

The device is completed with the external ornaments which are a gold archepiscopal (two cross members) processional cross, which is placed in back of the shield and which extends above and below the shield, and a pontifical hat called a gallero, with its ten tassels, in four rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of archbishop, by instruction of The Holy See of March 31, 1969.

By Paul J. Sullivan
Author and designer of the Archbishop's Coat of Arms

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