The episcopal heraldic achievement or bishop’s coat of arms is composed of a shield with its charges (symbols), a motto scroll and the external ornamentation. 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 language, and this description is presented as if given by the bearer with the shield being worn on the arm. Thus, where it applies the terms dexter and sinister are reversed as the device is viewed from the front.
For his personal arms, His Excellency, Bishop Madden has selected a design that reflects his life and his heritage.
His Excellency’s ministry began with his entrance into and his priestly ordination for the service the Order of Saint Benedict. After about 9 years as a Benedictine monk, His Excellency sought and received a transfer to the diocesan priesthood of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. After several pastoral assignments and services utilizing his doctorate in Clinical Psychology, including as a Professor at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine and the Maryland Department of Health, His Excellency accepted assignment to the Ecumenical Institute in Tantum, Jerusalem and then to become Director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, in New York, where he was serving when he was called to return to Baltimore as Auxiliary Bishop. All of this history is reflected in his coat of arms.
The design is based on the arms of The Lord Baltimore, which in modem times have served as the arms of the See City as well as of the State of Maryland, which Bishop Madden is now called to serve as Auxiliary Bishop.
The 2nd and 3rd quarters of the design are in opposite colors of red and silver (white) and are displaying the Jerusalem cross to indicate His Excellency’s service in and for the holy sites of The Holy Land. In the 1st quarter is an olive branch, for in all that Bishop Madden has done, human peace has been the pre-eminent goal.
Placed in back of the shield, as one of the ornaments indicative of the rank of bishop, is a processional cross. A Celtic cross is used in this place to indicate the Irish heritage that came to the Bishop from his father, William. In the 4th quarter of the shield are a garb of wheat and a “double cross,” which are classic symbols from Lithuania and which honors the Bishop’s mother Anna (Burnakis), who was of Lithuanian decent.
For his motto, His Excellency, Bishop Madden, has adopted a phrase from The Rule of Saint Benedict, “IN ALL THINGS MAY GOD BE GLORIFIED.” By the use of this phrase, His Excellency acknowledges his spiritual and religious home with the Benedictines but also expresses the goal of his ministry as a bishop, that all that he does is for God’s glory.
The achievement is completed with the external ornaments which are a gold processional cross, as described earlier, that is placed in back of and which extends above and below the shield, and the pontifical hat, called a “gallero,” with its six tassels, in three rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of bishop by instruction of The Holy See of March 31, 1969.
By Deacon Paul J. Sullivan
Rev. Mr. Sullivan is a Permanent Deacon of the Diocese of Providence.