His Excellency, the Most Reverend
John George Vlazny, D.D.
Archbishop of Portland in Oregon
The archepiscopal heraldic achievement, or the archbishop'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, it must be remembered, where it applies, that the terms dexter (right) and sinister (left) are reversed as the device is viewed from the front.
By heraldic tradition, the arms of the bishop or archbishop of a See are joined to the arms of his jurisdiction, in this case the arms of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.
These arms are based on the
coat of His Holiness, Pope Gregory XVI who was the Supreme Pontiff at the
time that the region was first established as a Vicariate Apostolic in 1843,
later becoming the Archdiocese of Oregon City in 1846. These arms,
composed of three sections, in the red, white and blue of the American
flag, depict by means of the red wavy bar across the center, the
Red River of Canada from which region the first Catholic missionaries
came to the area that is now Oregon. On this bar are three six pointed
silver stars, to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and above the wavy bar,
on the blue field, is the silver crescent representing Mary, in her title
of the Immaculate Conception, titular of the
For his personal arms, seen in the sinister impalement (right side of the shield), His Excellency, Archbishop Vlazny has retained the design adopted at the time of his selection to receive the fullness of Christ's priesthood as an Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago and which he retained during his tenure as Bishop of Winona in Minnesota.
The background of the design, known as the field, is blue to remind all of the waters of Lake Michigan at Chicago. On this field is a gold eagle coming forth from the bottom of the shield. This eagle is to honor the Archbishop's baptismal patron, St. John the Evangelist.
The eagle is displayed below a silver castle tower to represent Hradceny Castle, in Bohemia, outside of Prague, to pay particular honor to the Archbishop's Bohemian heritage. Next to the castle tower is a silver rosebud to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who sent roses with her messenger, Blessed Juan Diego, as the sign to the Bishop of Mexico City that she had indeed appeared to him and that Our Lady's message to the Bishop was indeed true. The Archbishop's particular devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe came after spending 13 years ministering in the Hispanic communities of Chicago before he was selected to be the Rector of Niles College of Loyola University, the office he was holding at the time of his selection to be an Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago.
The device is completed with the external ornaments which are a gold processional cross, that has two cross members, called an archepiscopal cross, placed in back of the shield and which extends above and below the shield, and with the pontifical hat, called a "gallero," with its ten tassels in four rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of archbishop by instruction of the Holy See of March 31,1969.
his motto, His Excellency, Archbishop Vlazny, has adopted the phrase "GO
AND MAKE DISCIPLES." This phrase, which is taken from the 28th Chapter
The Archbishop's Coat of Arms was designed
by Deacon Paul J. Sullivan, President of P. Sullivan & Co. of
Narragansett, RI. Reverend Mr. Sullivan is a Permanent Deacon of the Diocese