Bishop-elect Robert Prevost's Coat of Arms

On November 3, 2014, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis named the Most Reverend Robert F. Prevost, O.S.A., to be the fourth Bishop of Chiclayo, Peru.  Bishop-elect Prevost is scheduled to be ordained a bishop in Chiclayo, Peru, on December 12, 2014, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Below is a description of the Bishop-elect's coat of arms (pictured above).

It is a long-standing tradition in the Catholic Church that each bishop would have a “coat of arms”, or an “achievement”, composed of a shield, the motto, and the external ornaments, all of which are chosen to represent some aspect of the man who has been called to serve the Church as a bishop.

According to the customs of “ecclesiastical heraldry”, the left side of the shield (as we look at it, because it is the “right side” of the one who would be carrying the shield, the “dexter impalement”) is dedicated to the jurisdiction or territory being served by the bishop.  In the case of Bishop Prevost’s coat of arms, we find a white “fleur de lis” on a blue background, representing the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of the “Immaculate Conception”, who is the patroness of the Diocese of Chiclayo.

The right side of the shield (the “sinister impalement”) is customarily indicative of the person who is  named bishop.  In Bishop Prevost’s coat of arms, we find the seal of the Order of St. Augustine, clearly indicating the religious community from which the new bishop was called to serve the Diocese of Chiclayo.  This is particularly significant since before being called to the episcopacy, Bishop Prevost served as Prior General of the Augustinian Order for twelve years.

Below the shield, we see the “scroll”, which carries the words chosen as Bishop Prevost’s episcopal motto.  In this case, the Latin words are “In Illo uno unum”.  These words come from a sermon of St. Augustine (Enarrationes Psalm 127), and are an abbreviation of Augustine’s affirmation:  NOS MULTI IN ILLO UNO UNUM, “though we Christians are many, in the one Christ we are one.”  Bishop Prevost chose this motto as an indication that the bishop is called to promote authentic unity among all people, and that this unity can only be brought about when we have communion in Christ.

The remaining symbols in the coat of arms include the green ecclesiastical hat and the six tassels in three rows on either side of the shield (the heraldic insignia of a bishop), and a gold processional cross that is seen extending above and below the shield, indicating that it is the cross of Christ that all Christians are called to take up and to carry as we go forward in life.


Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy has been working with the Augustinians in fundraising and communications since 2010. He began working with the Augustinian Vocations office in 2015. He also holds a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management.