Coat of Arms
Azure, a cross fleurettée or, in base barry-wavy of five azure and argent, issuing from a mount of three coupeaux of the second.
In the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Boston, the "trimount" (or "mount of three coupreaux") is symbolic of Boston, the original name of which was Trimountaine, in reference to the three hills on which the city is said to have been built. In the early chancery documents, Boston was called "Tremontinensis". The cross fleurettée is in honor of the Cathedral's name: The Holy Cross, and a reminder that the first bishop of Boston and other early ecclesiastics were natives of France. At the base the "Barry-wavy" is an allusion to the fact that Boston is one of the most important seaports of the country and was populated by people arriving here from across the sea.
When you enter the front lobby of the Pastoral Center, the first thing you see is the Archdiocesan crest on the floor in front of you.
Q.: What is the history of crests?
A.: The history of crests, or coats of arms, goes back thousands of years. In Europe every family of a certain status had a crest. It indicated that the family was eligible to bear arms. They used it on pennants and personal property as identification. But high churchmen had them as well.
Q.: When was the Archdiocese of Boston’s crest created?
A.: Cardinal William O’Connell (Archbishop from 1907 to 1944) created the original crest, which had a Latin cross on it. But Cardinal Richard Cushing, (Archbishop from 1944 to 1970) asked a Benedictine monk to revise the crest. To honor the legacies of Fr. Francis Matignon and Bishop Jean Louis Lefebvre Cheverus, who had come from France and who had basically kept Catholicism alive in Boston during the difficult early days, he had the Latin Cross changed to a cross fleurettée, which has fleurs-de lis-on the ends.
Q.: What is the language at the beginning of the crest’s description on the web site?
A.: It’s Heraldic Language, the language of heraldry. Webster’s Dictionary describes Heraldry as “the art or science having to do with coats of arms, genealogies, etc.” Azure is blue; argent is silver; barry-wavy is the description of water, which is represented by alternating blue and silver waves. Coupeaux means a series of hills.
Q.: What is the benefit of having the crest in the lobby?
A.: In a way it’s reminiscent of the identifying role of the European crests. From the moment you walk into this building, you know it represents the Archdiocese of Boston. And it also reminds us of our origins, connecting us to those Catholics who built the Archdiocese of Boston.