Designing his shield — the central element in what is formally called the heraldic achievement — a bishop has an opportunity to depict symbolically aspects of his life and heritage, and elements of the Catholic faith that are important to him.
Every coat of arms also includes external elements that identify the rank of the bearer. The formal description of a coat of arms, known as the blazon, uses a technical jargon, derived from French and English terms, that allows the appearance and position of each element to be recorded precisely.
The shield as identity
The shield contains external elements that identify the bearer as a bishop.
• The galero or “pilgrim’s hat” is used heraldically in various colors and with specific numbers of tassels to indicate the rank of the bearer.
A bishop uses a green galero with three rows of green tassels.
• A gold processional cross appears behind the shield.
Arms of the Diocese of Wilmington
• Designed in 1926
• Based on the arms of Roger la Warr, third Baron de la Warr. Thomas West, twelfth Baron de la Warr, also called “Lord Delaware,” served as governor of the Jamestown Colony from 1610 to 1618.
• The Delaware River and Bay were named for him, which in turn gave their name to the area Native American tribe and to the colony of Delaware, established in 1704.
• The white lion of the original arms of the Barons de la Warr was recolored gold (Or) for the diocesan arms, recalling the arms of Pope Pius IX, who founded the Diocese in 1868.
• In addition to the three counties of the state, the new diocese also comprised nine counties in Maryland, as well as Accomack and Northampton Counties on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (which became part of the Diocese of Richmond in 1974).
• To commemorate the Maryland part of the diocese, the crosses from the arms of the Barons de la Warr were modified so that their three upper ends terminate in small rounded crosses and the lower end terminates in a point. These crosses appear in the arms of Cecil Calvert, second Baron Baltimore, founder of the Maryland colony in 1632.
Description: Gules, crusilly bottony fitchy argent, a lion rampant Or, impaling per fess azure and vert, a wolf passant reguardant argent collared and lined Or behind a lamb couchant of the last, in chief a dove volant recursant descendant in pale argent and issuant from the base an olive branch septuple-fructed Or.
Personal and Diocesan elements
A diocesan bishop shows his commitment to the flock he shepherds by combining his personal coat of arms with that of the diocese, in a technique known as impaling.
The shield is divided in half along the central vertical line. The arms of the diocese appear on the side of the shield to the viewer’s left.
The arms of the bishop are on the viewer’s right.
Arms of Bishop Koenig
Bishop Koenig’s arms comprise a scene that is both personal and scriptural.
• The shield is divided horizontally and painted blue and green, creating a field on which are depicted a lamb, painted gold, and a wolf, painted white.
• The lamb is a symbol of Saint Agnes, the patroness of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, where the Bishop grew up and where he has served as a priest since his ordination in 1983.
• The Bishop served as parochial vicar of Saint Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre and later as its rector .
• The Bishop’s baptismal patron saint, William of Vercelli (also known as William of Montevergine and William the Abbot; 1085-1142), is also the patron saint of the parish in Seaford, N.Y., where the Bishop first served as a pastor.
• St. William was known to have worked many miracles, the most famous of which was the taming of a wolf. The wolf is depicted here as collared and lined, further stressing his tame nature, yet he keeps watch over the lamb, as a bishop ought to keep close watch over the flock entrusted to his care (cf. 1 Pt 5:1-4).
• At the top of the shield is a dove, representing the Holy Spirit descending upon the apostles and the Church. The Bishop served as Director of Vocations from 1989 to 1996, as well as Director of Ministry to Priests from 1990 to 1996. He has included the dove to recall both these ministries, as the Holy Spirit is the source of both the vocation of the priest and of the sacramental character imprinted at a priest’s ordination by the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the laying on of hands.
• The ministry of both priest and bishop is further represented by the olive branch sprouting from the base of the shield. It bears seven olives, symbolic of the seven sacraments of the Church.
• It also alludes to the ministry of a bishop to direct the sacramental life of the diocese, which is symbolized most clearly at the annual Chrism Mass, during which a bishop blesses olive oil and consecrates perfumed olive oil.
• Taken together, the various charges on the Bishop’s shield also form a pictorial representation of the prophecy contained in the eleventh chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,” the prophet proclaims, “and a branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isa 11:1).