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Quarterly, Or and Azure, a cross fleuretty throughout: within the quarters; I, a harp; II, a quahog; III, an escallop and IV, a trefoil, all counterchanged.
The episcopal heraldic achievement or bishop’s coat of arms is composed of a shield with its charges (symbols), a motto scroll and the external ornamentation. 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 given by the bearer with the shield being worn on the arm. Thus, where it applies, the terms dexter and sinister are reversed as the device is viewed from the front.
For his personal arms, His Excellency, Bishop John A. Dooher employs a design that represents his heritage and his service to God’s Holy People gathered in the Archdiocese of Boston.
Upon the shield is placed a “cross fleuretty” (each arm terminates in a fleur-de-lis). The entire device is then divided into quarters with each side alternating the color of blue and gold (“counterchanged”). The cross and the colors are taken from the arms of the Archdiocese of Boston. In the quarters that are formed by the cross are symbols (charges) that have particular significance for Bishop Dooher.
In the first quarter is a folk harp to express the bishop’s deep love of music, both as a musician and as one who enjoys good music. In the second quarter is a quahog, the shell of the North American hard-shell clam and here called by the Native American name for the animal. It is using these shells, hand decorated by the bishop, that Bishop Dooher has baptized hundreds of children in his priestly career and, of course, always giving the shell used for the child to his or her parents as a momento of the ceremony. In the third quarter is a scallop shell, taken from the arms of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, who has called Bishop Dooher to the episcopacy, and in the fourth quarter is a trefoil (“shamrock”) to honor the Irish heritage his parents, Anthony and Brigid (Gavin) Dooher.
For his motto, His Excellency Bishop Dooher has selected the phrase “Come follow Me.” This passage from St. Matthew’s Gospel (Matt. 4:19) expresses for Bishop Dooher the admonition and catchphrase for any Christian, which is, that by our call into Christ Jesus, in all that we do, we are to follow Him.
The achievement is completed with the external ornaments which are a gold processional cross, that is placed in back of and which extends above and below the shield, and the 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.
Deacon Paul J. Sullivan is a Permanent Deacon of the Diocese of Providence.
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