The Coat of Arms of
His Excellency, the Most Reverend James Michael Moynihan, J.C.D.,
Bishop of Syracuse
Blazon: Arms impaled. Dexter: Azure, a Latin cross throughout Or, the lower shaft entwined with a dolphin, head to base, and in chief dexter a crescent Argent. Sinister: Argent, a saltair Gules upon a lozenge conjoined at center three tongues of fire Or; to chief a Chi-Rho Vert and to base the monogram of the Blessed Virgin Azure.
Significance: The episcopal heraldic achievement, or as it is more commonly known, the bishop’s coat of arms, is composed of a shield, with its charges (symbols), a motto scroll, and the external ornaments. 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 done as if being given by the bearer with the shield being worn on the arm. Thus, the terms dexter and sinister are reversed as the device is viewed from the front.
By heraldic tradition, the arms of the bishop of a diocese are joined (impaled) with the arms of his jurisdiction, which are seen in the dexter impalement (left side) of the shield. In this case, these are the arms of the Diocese of Syracuse.
These arms are composed of a blue field with a gold cross of The Faith throughout. Entwined around the lower arm of the cross is a silver dolphin, which was the emblem on the coins of the chief Greek city, Syracuse, of ancient Sicily. To the upper left (chief dexter) is silver crescent to honor Mary, in her title of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States.
For his personal arms, seen in the sinister impalement (right side) of the achievement, His Excellency, Bishop Moynihan has adopted a design that reflects his life as a priest and now as a bishop. These arms are composed of a silver field on which is placed a red saltair (“X”) with a lozenge (diamond) at the center. This configuration is taken from the arms of the Bishop’s home diocese of Rochester. It also reminds us of the Cross of St. Patrick (silver field with red saltair), which makes up the majority of the arms of the Archdiocese of New York, where Bishop Moynihan was serving as Associate Secretary General of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association when he was selected to receive the fullness of the priesthood, as a bishop, in his appointment to the See of Syracuse. In the center of this design are three golden tongues of fire, to honor the Most Holy Spirit, which is, and must be, the guide for any devout Christian and especially a cleric of the holy Catholic Church. Receptive to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Bishop Moynihan is motivated by the gospel teachings of Jesus Christ, as signified by the Chi-Rho in the green of his Irish heritage, and by devotion to the Mother of God, as signified by the monogram of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the intertwined “A” and “M” … “Ave Maria”) in the traditional Marian color of blue. For his motto, His Excellency, Bishop Moynihan has selected the phrase “SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE.” This phrase, taken from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. 4:2), expresses the Bishop’s deep belief and faith that all of us, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, are bound together and are therefore compelled and required to do all that we can to support one another in love.
The device is completed with the external ornaments, which are a gold processional cross, which is placed in back of the shield and which extends above and below the shield, and a 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.
By Deacon Paul J. Sullivan, President
P. SULLIVAN & CO.