THE BISHOP’S COAT OF ARMS & MOTTO
“The call to mission derives, of its nature, from the call to holiness.” — Pope John Paul II
Barry of six Gules and Argent, an eagle displayed wings inverted, Azure, haloed, beaked and membered Or, holding in its talons fesswise the haft of an American woodsman’s axe Sable, with the blade; Argent, facing dexter base; on the eagle’s dexter wing a bezant bearing a dolphin naient embowed; Gules, on its sinister wing a bezant bearing a rose seeded and barbed of the last, and on its breast a torteau bearing the crossed keys of St. Peter proper.
The red and silver bars are a canting device recalling the Bishop’s family surname “Barres.” The Bishop’s immigrant ancestor, Jacob Barres came from Prussia and first settled in Lehigh County in 1852.
The blue eagle with the halo is the symbol of St. John the Evangelist, honoring the Bishop’s baptismal name patron. The cross keys symbolically express the Bishop’s dedication and fidelity to the See of Peter and to the Most Holy Father, as did the arms of Bishop Barres’ predecessor, Bishop Cullen. The dolphin is taken from the arms of St. John Fisher, and the rose represents St. Thomas More, particularly his chain of office as Lord Chancellor of England. Pope John Paul II, by motu proprio in 2000, declared Saint Thomas More the Patron of Statesmen, Politicians, and Lawyers. Both of these saints, one a prelate and one a layman, were martyrs for the Faith and remained loyal to the Church and the Holy See. Their symbols are depicted in red to indicate their martyrdom. The axe represents President Abraham Lincoln of whom the Bishop is a great admirer.
The arms are completed with current episcopal indicia authorized in 1969 by Pope Paul VI, which are a gold processional cross placed in back of the shield and extending above and below it, and a round wide-brimmed green hat, known as a “gallero”, containing a tassel on each side of the hat’s crown. Suspended from the gallero are six additional tassels in three rows on each side of the shield, also green.
Motto: “Holiness and Mission”
The Bishop’s motto derives from a phrase from the final section of the encyclical Redemptoris Missio written by Pope John Paul II in 1990, entitled “The True Missionary is the Saint.” His Holiness wrote: “The call to mission derives, of its nature, from the call to holiness. A missionary is really such only if he commits himself to the way of holiness: ‘Holiness must be called a fundamental presupposition and an irreplaceable condition for everyone in fulfilling the mission of salvation in the Church.’ The universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission. Every member of the faithful is called to holiness and to mission. This was the earnest desire of the Council, which hoped to be able ‘to enlighten all people with the brightness of Christ, which gleams over the face of the Church, by preaching the Gospel to every creature.’ The Church’s missionary spirituality is a journey towards holiness.”