Story by Jennifer Mauro, Associate Editor
In Catholic tradition, a coat of arms is typically composed of a shield bearing symbols with geographic, religious and historical relevance. For the faithful who will now pass through the doors of St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, those meanings will have local roots, too.
As one of the aesthetic additions for the Co-Cathedral, a new coat of arms has been approved by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M. A printed version of the coat of arms will reside in the Co-Cathedral until work is completed on the permanent plaque.
The coat of arms, says Father Jason Parzynski, parochial vicar in St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, Hamilton, represents the City of Trenton, as the diocesan See and home of the Mother Church, and its relationship to the Catholic community as well as unites all four counties of the Diocese.
“We wanted to bring together the symbols to represent the unity of the Diocese and teaching authority of the Bishop,” said Father Parzynski. Bishop O’Connell expressed his gratitude to Father Parzynski for working on the project.
The shield consists of a gold-colored mitre (the hat worn by popes and bishops) sitting atop a horizontal red strip adorned with four brown pinecones. A blue background picturing a Moline Cross and crescent moon makes up the shield’s body.
The design ties together symbols found within the Diocese of Trenton, St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, and St. Robert Bellarmine’s coats of arms.
The coat of arms has the principal background color of deep blue. This is to honor Mary, Our Lady of the Assumption and patroness of the Diocese. The Diocese’s original coat of arms, which can be seen in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, also has this Marian blue.
The Moline Cross, often associated with the order of St. Benedict, is colored in gold, symbolic of the virtue of faith. It serves as a reminder that Jesus is Lord and Savior in addition to representing the industry of Trenton in that the cross gets its name from its shape, that of a millrind, or the cross-shaped iron clamp used on the upper part of a millstone, moline being a French term for a mill. This nod to industry recognizes the City of Trenton, which financially supported the Diocese at its founding and is thus the principal symbol representing the Diocese.
St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral is again indicated by a heraldic crescent moon in silver overlaying the Moline Cross. The crescent is often used to represent Our Lady and emphasizes her spiritual role as Mother of the Church.
The brown pinecones in the red portion of the shield are taken from the coat of arms of St. Robert Bellarmine, who became co-patron of the Diocese with the Co-Cathedral’s elevation. The Co-Cathedral is indicated by the pinecones. The four pinecones also represent the Diocese’s four counties – Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean. The red background signifies the infinite love of the Father who sent the Son to shed his blood for humanity.
Crowning the shield is the mitre, worn by bishops as a symbol of their authoritative role in the Church. Taken together on a single shield, these symbols representing the Bishop’s teaching authority, Cathedral and Co-Cathedral are meant to signify unity within the Diocese.