The coat of arms of Washington's new Catholic leader has been prepared -- a design that links the history of Archbishop James A. Hickey's family with the history of this country.
Hickey was installed as head of the Washington archdiocese in ceremonies this week. He will meet local Catholics after a 4 p.m. mass Sunday at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The left side of Hickey's shield displays the coat of arms of the archdiocese itself, with four chains linked to a ring, or annulet, symbolizing the Catholic faith and church in the nation's capital.
The silver crescent on a blue field of the upper left quadrant is the traditional symbol of the Virgin Mary, the patroness of this country for American Catholics. Below that, the three five-pointed stars are adapted from the arms of George Washington.
Continuing counterclockwise, the man's face between angel's wings is the traditional symbol for St. Matthew, the patron of the cathedral of the archdiocese. The three silver six-pointed stars on a red field above St. Matthew come from the arms of Pope Pius VI, who headed the Catholic Church at the time the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
The right half of the shield recalls the history of the new archbishop. The golden lion at the bottom is a typical Hickey family symbol, while the red griffins' heads flanking the black cross in the upper right quadrant come from his maternal ancestors, the Ryans.
The red-and-silver fields on the right side represent the diocese of Saginaw where Hickey was ordained and was later made a bishop. The diocese of Cleveland, where he served for the last six years, is represented by the distinctive black cross of crosses at top right.
The motto, "Veritatem in Caritate" or "The Truth in Charity," was adapted by Hickey from the motto of the late Bishop Stephen S. Woznicki of Saginaw under whom Hickey served as both priest and auxiliary bishop and who was "like a father to me," Hickey told Washington priests here this week. w
The pontifical hat at the top is no longer worn as it once was at solemn papal functions. But it is still preserved in ecclesiastical heraldry, its long looping cord and tassals signifying rank.
When, as is widely expected, Hickey is named a cardinal of the church, another row of five tassels would be added at the bottom of the twin pyramids.
The new Washington archbishop broke with the tradition of elaborate invitation-only banquet following his formal installation here. Instead, he will meet area Catholics Sunday afternoon, first at the mass, then at a family festival afterward, featuring ethnic food and entertainment. The celebration will take place on the grounds of Catholic University next to the Shrine.