Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Coat of arms of Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM

By DEACON PAUL J. SULLIVAN, Commentary | Published April 19, 2018

The episcopal heraldic achievement, or bishop’s coat of arms, is composed of a shield, that is the central and most important part of the design and tells to whom the design belongs, the external ornamentation, that tells the owner’s position or rank, and a motto, placed upon a scroll. By heraldic tradition the design is described (blazoned) as if being done by the bearer with the shield being worn on the arm. Thus, where it applies, the terms “sinister” and “dexter” are reversed as the design is viewed from the front.

For the bishop who is without jurisdiction, as an auxiliary bishop, the entire shield of Bishop Konzen’s design is given over to his personal arms.

For Bishop Konzen the shield is silver (white) with a blue pile (an “A”-shaped device) upon which is displayed the conjoined “A” and “M,” known an “the monogram of Mary,” in silver (white) that is the emblem of the Society of Mary, known as the Marists, that is the bishop’s religious community. The pile resembles an inlet of water, such as a bay or harbor, and this pile is charged with a gold (yellow) oak leaf to signify Oak Harbor, Ohio, where Bishop Konzen was born and raised.

Above the pile are an open book, gold (yellow) with red edges, and a red cross of the Faith to signify that Bishop Konzen has spent most of his life in education, in a Catholic environment, including his last position as President of the Marist School in Atlanta, before coming to the fullness of Christ’s Most Holy Priesthood as a Bishop.

For his motto, His Excellency Bishop Konzen, has adopted the Latin phrase “Miserere Gaudens,” that is taken from the eighth verse of the 12th chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Rom 12:8). This passage can be paraphrased as, “Be merciful, and with a cheerful heart.”

The achievement is completed with the external ornaments that are a gold (yellow) processional cross, that extends above and below the shield, and a pontifical hat, called a “galero,” 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 1969.

Rev. Mr. Sullivan is a permanent deacon of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island.