Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Costume Of Prelates Of the Catholic Church according to Roman Etiquette. By The Rev. John A. Nainfa S.S. Part 32.

CHAPTER VI. Heraldry. part 3.

Though there is no text of law prohibiting the mitre and the crosier below the pontifical hat, yet it would be advisable not thus to place them, since it is not in conformity with the Roman usage. But, if this old practice is retained, it should be regulated in accordance with the principles of Catholic Ecclesiastical Heraldry. Therefore, the mitre should not be placed in the middle between the cross and the crosier; but the cross should be placed in the middle, the mitre on the left and the crosier on the right. Like the cross, the crosier should be represented as placed behind the shield.


1. Hat of a priest with a permanent appointment.

2. Hat of a Canon.

3. Hat of a Prelate di mantellone.

4. Hat of an Abbot; Superior General; Vicar General; Protonotary Apostolic Honorary, etc.

5. Hat of a Prelate di mantelletta.

6. Hat of a Protonotary Apostolic of one of the first three classes.

7. Hat of a Bishop; and of the "Regent of the Chancery."

8. Hat of an Archbishop.

9. Hat of a. Prelate di fiocketti.

10. Hat of a Patriarch, according to the new etiquette.

11. Hat of a Cardinal.

Abbots do not place a cross behind the shield, since this is a privilege of Prelates invested with the episcopal character; but they may place, below the pontifical hat, the crosier passed behind the right side of the shield, and

the mitre resting on the top of the shield on the left side; or simply, as is done in Rome, the crosier in the middle.

In the case of Archbishops and Bishops, the curve of the crosier is turned towards the right; while in the arms of Abbots, it is turned towards the left.

All priests who have a permanent appointment, like Canons, irremovable Rectors of parishes, Superiors of Seminaries, etc., may timber their arms with a hat. This hat is shaped like that of Prelates, but is of no other color than black, and its strings terminate with three tassels on each side for Canons, and one tassel only for other dignitaries.

"The clerical members and officials of any Order of Knighthood are entitled to use its ribbon and badge as an external ornament of their shield of arms. If they belong to the lower classes of the Order, and so are only entitled to wear the ribbon and badge at the buttonhole, or on the left breast—then the cross is suspended by its ribbon from the base of the shield. But if they have higher rank, which entitles them to wear the ribbon en sautoir —that is by a ribbon passing round the neck and supporting the badge at the neck or middle of the breast—then they have also the right to surround the escutcheon with the ribbon of the Order supporting its pendant badge, and (according to circumstances) to place their escutcheon upon the Cross of the Order." (a)

Books treating of Heraldry may give different rules concerning the various points here treated, especially concerning the colors of hats and the number of their tassels; but they are either ill-informed or antiquated. The directions here given are all in conformity with the present ceremonial of the Roman Church, and are, therefore, appointment to be preferred to the teaching of heralds, who may know secular heraldry very well, but who are often imperfectly acquainted with ecclesiastical etiquette.

12. Persons ignorant of heraldic principles, when seeing the arms of a Prelate, generally look first for the motto, which they think a very important part in an armorial bearing. They should know that the motto has comparatively little importance in secular arms, but has none whatever in ecclesiastical Heraldry; moreover, Roman usage, widely accepted in Italy, admits of no motto in the arms of ecclesiastics.

The motto, if used, should not be placed on the shield itself, but below it, on a ribbon termed heraldically the "escroll."

13. The coat-of-arms is a personal, distinctive sign of a Prelate, both as a dignitary of the Church and private citizen. From this principle all its practical uses are derived.

First of all, the coat-of-arms constitutes the principal part of the Prelate's seal. A Prelate invested with a permanent office, like a Cardinal, a Bishop, a Secretary of a Congregation, etc., has at least two different seals; one, the official seal, is made up of the coat-of-arms rounded with the name and titles of the Prelate, in Latin, and in abbreviation if necessary; for instance, "FRANCISCUS. S. R. E. PRESB. CARD. RICHARD. ARCHIEP. PARISIEN." or "PETRUS. EPISC. TITUL. CAESARIEN." The other, much smaller, is reserved for private use, and consists only of the coat-of-arms within a circle. The Prelates who do not make use of the official seal, may well use a private seal with their arms engraved.

The terms "arms" and "seal" are often incorrectly used as synonymous. In fact, the coat-of-arms is independent of the seal, though the seal includes the coat-of arms as its principal part.

As a sign of jurisdiction and authority, the coat-of-arms of a Bishop should be printed on the top of all chancery documents, like letters of ordinations, diplomas, testimonial letters, celebrets, etc. In such cases, the coat-of-arms should be of a rather large scale, and all its details

neatly printed with the conventional dots and lines indicating the colors. Under the coat-of-arms, the names and the ecclesiastical and civil titles of the Prelate are printed in full; and, at the foot of the document, at the left of the Prelate's signature, the official seal is affixed.

The Bishop's coat-of-arms is also printed, as a sign of jurisdiction or of high patronage, on the cover and title page of all diocesan publications, as a diocesan bulletin, documents printed by order of the Bishop, acts of synods, diocesan statutes, pastoral letters, conferences, etc.

In church, the canopy of the episcopal throne should be decorated with the Bishop's coat-of-arms embroidered in colors, as well as sacred vestments, chasubles, stoles, mitres, copes, etc., personally belonging to him or presented by him.

It is also a Roman usage to decorate with the embroidered coat-of-arms the front part of the drapery covering the prie-dieu of a Prelate.

In his own house, the Prelate marks with his coat-of-arms everything which belongs to him personally, and is fit to receive such a decoration—his plate (both sacred and common), china, tapestries, hangings, rugs, cushions, etc. His arms should be painted on both doors of his carriage; and a wood panel, bearing the coat-of-arms painted, should be placed, as a sign of propriety and jurisdiction, over the entrance door of the Bishop's house and over the doorway of the cathedral. (b)

Finally, custom places the arms of a Prelate, printed in black or in colors, on the top of the letter paper used by him, or, in his name, by his secretaries; and the same arms, a very artistic piece of decoration as they are, should be made use of whenever it is possible to do so; for instance, on programmes, menu cards, engrossed addresses, etc., when a Prelate is interested in the occasion.

In all cases above mentioned, if the arms are not painted or printed in colors, the conventional system of dots and lines, signifying the real colors of the shield and its figures, is rigorously required.

(a) J. Woodward, Ecclesiastical Heraldry, pp. 56-7.