All bishops have a coat of arms. When Bishop Declan was appointed as the ninth Bishop of Clifton in 2001, one of the tasks was to prepare a Coat of Arms. This was done by Father Philip McBrien a priest from the Nottingham Diocese. Father Philip explains the various elements that make up Bishop’s Coat of Arms.
The heraldic description first: for the Clifton Diocese:
azure two bars wavy argent in chief two keys linked one or the other of the second in saltaire with a sword pointing upwards of the second the pommel and hilt of the third in base a fleur-de-lys of the third. And for Bishop Declan: sable a fess argent in chief two cinqfoils of the second in base on a mount of the second an oak sprig acorned proper a Book of Gospels closed vert charged with a latin cross.
Now, a more user friendly description: The left side of the shield is for the Clifton Diocese, and the right for the bishop. The design for Bishop Declan’s is based on a shield once used by a family called Lang, differenced (changed) with the Book of Gospels for St Declan who brought the Gospel message to the people of the South East of Ireland.
So for the Clifton Diocese we can say: A blue shield with two white wavy lines across the centre for the two rivers that meet at Bristol, above is the symbol of the keys and sword for SS Peter and Paul the patrons of the Cathedral, and below is a golden fleur-de-lys in honour of Our Lady the patroness of the diocese.
For Bishop Declan: A black shield with a white band across the middle above are two cinqfoils (five-lobed petals) below is a white mount with an oak sprig with an acorn. The green Book of Gospels in the centre remembers the bishop’s name (St Declan was an Evangelist in Ireland) and the task of the bishop in spreading the Gospel.
Father Philip McBrien