Coat of Arms and Episcopal Motto

Cardinal Crest
Cardinal O'Malley's Coat of Arms

Seán Cardinal Patrick O'Malley, OFM Cap, Ph.D., D.D.
Episcopal Motto:
CardinalCrestFor his motto, His Eminence, Seán Cardinal O'Malley, O.F.M., Cap, has retained the phrase "QUODCUMQUE DIXERIT FACITE," which is taken from Saint John's Gospel, Chapter 2, verse 5 and comes from the Blessed Virgin's statement at the wedding feast at Cana, "Do whatever He tells you," This statement by Mary, the first disciple, "the first Christian," sums up the totality of the human commitment to Christ, regardless of what it may be, we are to do "whatever he tells us."

Arms impaled. Dexter: Azure, a cross fleurettee Or; issuant from a base bary wavy of five, of the first and Argent, a mount of three coteaux of the second. Sinister: Gules, a ship of three masts, at sail, Or, between three stars Argent; on a chief of the third the arms of the Franciscan Order; upon a Latin cross Sable two arms in saltak, the one to dexter uncovered and the one to sinister habited of the Order of St. Francis, both hands displaying the Stigmata, all Proper. 

The archepiscopal heraldic achievement, or 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 presented 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 and sinister are reversed as the device is viewed from the front.

By heraldic tradition, the arms of the Metropolitan Archbishop are joined to the arms of his diocesan jurisdiction, seen in the dexter impalement (left side) of the shield. In this case, these are arms of the Archdiocese of Boston.

These arms are composed of a blue field on which is displayed a gold (yellow) cross fleurettee. This cross of The Faith has each arm terminating in a fleur-de-lis to honor the first Bishop of Boston, Jean Legebvre de Cheverus, a French bishop who later became the Cardinal-Archbishop of Bordeaux, The cross is also employed to represent the cathedral-church in Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The base of the archdiocesan arms is five bary wavy bars of blue and silver (white), this traditional heraldic representation of water is used to signify the waters of Boston Harbor that is of such significance in American history. Issuant from the waters of the harbor is a "trimount" ("mount of three coteaux") to represent the See City, the original name of which was "Trimountaine," in reference to the three hills (Beacon Hill, Pemberton Hill and Mount Vernon) on which the city of Boston has been said to have been built.

For his personal arms, seen in the sinister impalement (right side) of the shield, His Excellency has retained the arms that he adopted at the time that he was selected to become a bishop in 1984. His Excellency was serving in a pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Washington when he was selected to become Coadjutor Bishop (with Right of Succession) of the Diocese of Saint Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands. He retained the same design during his tenure as Bishop of Saint Thomas, during his tenure as Bishop of Fall River, in Massachusetts, during his tenure as Bishop of Palm Beach, in Florida, and now as he come to be Archbishop of Boston,

The background of these arms is red and displays a three masted sailing ship, at full sail, all in gold (yellow). This charge is taken from the portion of the O'Malley "family" arms that is known as "the crest" (the upper-most portion, usually above a helmet ... like the "crest of a wave" is the upper-most portion, not the whole wave). This ship is placed amid three silver (white) stars that are taken from the arms of General George Washington, which arms are used as the device of our federal capital city, where as it was said, His Excellency was serving as a priest when he was selected to receive the fullness of Christ's most holy priesthood as a bishop.

The upper portion of Cardinal O'Malley's personal arms are the arms of the Order of Saint Francis, (O.F.M. - the Order of Friars Minor - a loose translation of tile Latin for the Order of Little Brothers) signifying that Cardinal O'Malley is a Capuchin Franciscan. These arms show on a black cross, the crossed arms of Christ and Saint Francis, each bearing the Stigmata,

Two special charges have been added to Cardinal O'Malley's design to signify very special honors that His Excellency has received.

The shield of the Cardinal's design has been replaced by the red and silver "Cruz de Cristo" to signify that Cardinal O'Malley was named a Knight Commander of the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator in 1974. This honor was conferred upon the Cardinal by the Portuguese government for outstanding service to the Portuguese people.

Additionally, it will be noted that the Cardinal's shield also rests upon a Maltese Cross in its proper colors of red and white. The inclusion of this cross in the design signifies that at the request of His Eminence James Cardinal Hickey, then Cardinal-Archbishop of Washington, DC and Chaplain of the Washington Lieutenancy of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Cardinal O'Malley was named as a Chaplain "Ad Honorum" of the Order in 1991. By this position the Bishop became a member of one of the oldest chivalric order in Christendom, the Hospitaliers of St. John of Jerusalem, who, at one time, had their headquarters on the Island of Malta (the headquarters are now In Rome) and have thereafter been known as the Knights of Malta.