Description of the coat of arms of Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R

(Update: See a preview of Cardinal-designate Tobin's new coat of arms)

The coat of arms of Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.RIn according to the Roman Catholic Church heraldic tradition, the Coat of Arms of a Metropolitan Archbishop is normally composed by:

  • a shield with its charges (symbols) coming from family, geographic, religious and historical meanings and/or referred to the name of the Archbishop;
  • a golden processional  cross, with two traversal bars, to represent the rank of the archbishop, “impaled” (vertically) behind the shield;
  • a green hat (galero), with 20 (ten on each side) attached tassels ordained 1; 2; 3; 4
  • a pallium with small black crosses
  • a scroll with the motto, written in black, below everything.

For this coat of arms it has been chosen a gothic shape shield and a bottony processional cross with five red gemstones to remind the Five Wounds of Christ


Heraldic description (blazonry) of the Coat of Arms  of  Archbishop Tobin

Per pale; in 1st or, on a cross throughout azure, a fish fesswise sustained by a trident palewise, a fleur de lis in chief, all of the first; in 2nd per pale; dexter: argent, a cross between  a perch with a sponge, in bend and a spear, in bar, all proper and supported by a mount of three coupeaux vert, issuant from the base; sinister: per fess; in 1st azure, three oak leaves of the first, one in chief, two fesswise in base; in 2nd gules, a fleur de lis of the first”



GAUDETE IN DOMINO (Rejoice in the Lord); from Philippians 4,4



In the right side of the shield (the observer’s left, being that in the heraldic shield, one needs to consider the right and the left from the perspective of the soldier who, in ancient times, held his own shield) we find represented the Coat of Arms of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
It consists of a blue (azure) cross on a gold (or) field. Here the fleur de lis wants to symbolize the faith brought in this area by French missionaries.

The fish and the trident recall the Native Americans of this region who spoke Algonquin, which means “at the place of spearing fish”.

The gold (or) is the most noble metal, symbol then of the first Virtue: the Faith; it is by the Faith that we can comprehend the message of salvation of Our Lord.

The silver(argent) is the symbol of the transparency, then of the Justice and Truth, fundamental dowries on which the Bishop articulates his pastoral service.

The cross between the perch with the sponge and the spear and the  mount  represent the event on the Golgota; the green (vert) colour  recalls the Hope, Virtue which holds us in the pilgrimage toward the Salvation.

These figures come from the coat of arms of the C.Ss.R. (Redemptorists), Congregation to which Msgr. Tobin belongs.

The three oak leaves come from the crest of the Tobin family; beside this, the oak in heraldry is the symbol of strength, the strength which is necessary to follow the Word of God to reach, at the end of our pilgrimage on earth, the salvation of our souls. The leaves of oak stand on a blue (azure) field; this colour symbolizes the separation from the worldly values and the ascent of the soul toward God, therefore the run of the Celestial Virtues which raise themselves from the things of the earth toward the sky.

The fleur de lis is a classical symbol of the iconography of Saint Joseph, the name of the Archbishop and we find it on a red (gules) field: this colour symbolizes the love and the blood; the Love of the Father who sent the Son to shed His blood for us.

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