The Coat of Arms of His Excellency, The Most Reverend Edward M. Rice Seventh Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau


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Blazon

Arms impaled. Dexter: Azure, on a chevron wavy Argent, between in chief two fountains and in base a lamb lodged proper supporting a palm branch Or, a mullet between two trumpets all Azure. Sinister: Gules, on a chevron Azure fimbriated Argent, between three ancient crowns Or, two garbs Or.

Significance

A bishop’s coat of arms is composed of a shield with its charges (i.e. symbols), a scroll with a motto, and the external ornamentation. The shield, which is the central and most important feature of any heraldic achievement, is blazoned (i.e. described) using a standardized, traditional vocabulary. It is described as if the arms were being worn by the person describing them, thus the dexter (right) side of the shield is on the viewer’s left and the sinister (left) side is on the viewer’s right.

It is customary in North America for the coat of arms of the bishop and those of his diocese to be depicted together on the same shield. The coat of arms of Bp. Edward M. Rice and that of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau are depicted side-by-side. This is called impaling in heraldry. By impaling his arms with those of his diocese, Bp. Rice shows that he is “married” to his diocese with the arms of jurisdiction.

The external ornaments are those prescribed for a bishop according to the Instruction of the Holy See, Ut Sive, of March 1969. The shield is ensigned with a gold (yellow) episcopal cross. In heraldry the cross behind the shield is the true emblem of Episcopal heraldry. In addition, above the shield is placed a green ecclesiastical hat called a “galero” with 12 tassels, six on each side in three rows on either side of the shield, all in green. This broad-brimmed hat, once worn in formal processions, is no longer used but remains a heraldic emblem for clergy in the Catholic Church. The reason it is green is because green, and not violet, was the original color worn by bishops.

Diocese

The dexter side (viewer’s left) of the shield shows the coat of arms of the Diocese of Springfield – Cape Girardeau. The arms of the diocese are a combination of charges chosen to represent the history of the diocese. These arms are composed of a blue field on which is displayed a silver (white) wavy chevron to represent a point or cape into the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau. The symbols on the chevron represent the Cathedral of the Annunciation of Mary, the Morning Star. The herald’s trumpets pointing to a Star honor the Archangel Gabriel who announced the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary, while the star represents the Virgin Mary under her title of the Morning Star. Above the chevron are two heraldic fountains, roundels composed of blue and white wavy lines, which represent springs of water. They are placed directly on the shield, which is referred to as the field. This choice of design cants (i.e. plays on) the name of Springfield by placing “springs” on the field. In the base is a lamb with a martyr’s palm branch to honor St. Agnes, titular of the Cathedral in Springfield, who was martyred in the fourth century.

Episcopal

For his personal arms, depicted on the sinister side (viewer’s right) of the shield, His Excellency, Bp. Rice has retained the design made for him when he was ordained an auxiliary bishop of St. Louis. His arms draw upon the heritage of his parents, John and Helen (Madden), the Rice “family arms” (a red field with a blue chevron) has been differenced (i.e. changed) to reflect its use by the bishop by fimbriating (i.e. outlining) the chevron in white. Placed on the chevron are two yellow garbs of wheat, taken from the arms of the Abp. Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis, who was the principal consecrator for Bp. Rice’s ordination to the episcopacy. The garbs also recall the Bread of Life—the Eucharist—which is the core mystery of the Catholic Faith and the central activity of the priesthood.

Above and below the chevron are three golden crowns. One crown honors St. Louis, King of France, and the patron saint of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, where Bp. Rice served as a priest and bishop. Another crown honors St. Edward the Confessor, the baptismal patron of Bp. Rice. The third crown honors the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially under her title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the parish where Bp. Rice was baptized.

Episcopal motto

For his motto, Bp. Rice has selected the Latin phrase “VENITE ET VIDEBITIS.” The phrase is taken from the Gospel of John (Jn 1:39). When the first disciples, Andrew and John, are called by Jesus, they ask him where he is staying. Jesus responds, “Come, and you will see.” The verse was chosen by Bp. Rice to recognize his seminary and vocational work and to highlight the call of Pope St. John Paul II for a time of “new evangelization” in the Church. ©TM

The Coat of Arms for The Most Reverend Edward M. Rice as Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau was blazoned and illustrated by Fr. Daniel C. Gill, a priest of the Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph.

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