The Coat of Arms of His Excellency, The Most Reverend Luis Rafael Zarama, D.D. Auxiliary BIshop of Atlanta and Titular Bishop of Bararus
By DEACON PAUL J. SULLIVAN, Commentary | Published October 1, 2009
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 (right) and sinister (left) are reversed as the device is viewed from the front.
For his personal arms, His Excellency, Bishop Zarama has adopted a design to reflect his life and ministry as a priest.
On a blue field is displayed an extra wide chevron of Gold (yellow). This device gives the illusion of two mountains: a gold one and a blue one. The gold mountain (the chevron) is charged with a scattering (semé) of red crosses to represent the Bishop’s home city of Pasto, in southwestern Colombia, which is known as “The Theological City.” The lower mountain (part of the blue field) has a golden lion’s head to represent the Evangelist, Saint Mark, who is the titular patron of the parish in Clarkesville, Georgia, on a mountain, where Bishop Zarama served as pastor.
Above the chevron are a gold rose for Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, also known as “The Little Flower,” and a silver (white) lily for Saint Joseph, the Foster Father of Jesus, who have served as Bishop Zarama’s particular patrons throughout his life as a priest and now as a bishop.
His Excellency, Bishop Zarama has selected for his motto the Latin phrase “Deus Caritas Est.” This phrase, “God Is Love,” is the title of an encyclical by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, and it sums up in a succinct statement all that the Church and Christianity are to be all about . . . sharing the love of God.
The achievement is completed with the external ornaments, which are a gold episcopal 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.
Rev. Mr. Sullivan is a permanent deacon of the Diocese of Providence, R.I.