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Azure; issuant from sinister and dexter and knotted at the honor point a bodice sash Or, below a semé of seven-pointed stars Argent; upon a base bary wavy of four, of the second and the first, a Yankee Clipper of the second, the sails of the last, below to dexter an escallop and to sinister a trefoil, both of the second.
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 modern 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 Robert F. Hennessey employs a design that represents his heritage and his service to God’s Holy People gathered in the Archdiocese of Boston.
On a shield of blue, taken from the arms of the archdiocese, His Excellency, Bishop Hennessey has placed the waters of Boston harbor which has sailing upon them a Yankee Clipper, the vessel developed and built in East Boston, the area of the See City that His Excellency was serving as pastor at Most Holy Redeemer Parish when he was called to the fullness of the priesthood as a bishop. The ship is seen below a golden scallop shell, taken from the arms of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, who named His Excellency to the episcopacy and which also represents the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle, of which the bishop was a member and for whom he served in Bolivia from 1986 to 1994. The ship is also below a golden trefoil (“shamrock”) to honor the Irish heritage of his parents, John and Eileen (Cahill) Hennessey.
At the “honour point” of the shield (one-third from the top), coming forth from both sides, is a golden tie, that is worn at the bodice of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the tie is placed below a semé (heraldically, a “scattering” of no specific number) of seven-pointed stars that are from The Madonna’s cloak in the Guadalupe image. These charges are employed, not only to express His Excellency’s deep devotion to Our Blessed Mother, but to honor the Hispanic community of Boston that the bishop has had the honor to serve and that it is on her feast day that he will be ordained as a bishop.
For his motto, His Excellency Bishop Hennessey has selected the first line of the Canticle of Mary, from Evening Prayer of the Divine Office, also known as the Liturgy of the Hours, “Magnificat anima mea Dominum.” This phrase from St. Luke’s Gospel (Luke 1:46) says that for Bishop Hennessey, in the ministry of Jesus Christ, all that he does is done to express from the core of his being; “My soul proclaims the greatness of The Lord.”
The achievement is completed with the external ornaments which are a gold processional cross, 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.
Deacon Paul J. Sullivan is a Permanent Deacon of the Diocese of Providence.
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