The episcopal heraldic achievement, or bishop’s coat of arms, is composed of a shield, which is the central and most important part of the design, a scroll with a motto and the external ornamentation. The design is described (blazoned) as if the description was being given by the bearer (from behind) with the shield being worn on the left arms. Thus, it must be remembered, where it applies, as the device is viewed from the front that the terms sinister and dexter are reversed.
By heraldic tradition, the arms of the bishop of a diocese, called an “Ordinary,” are joined (impaled) with the arms of his jurisdiction, in this case the Diocese of Corpus Christi in Texas, that are seen in the dexter impalement (left side) of the design.
These arms are composed of a red field on which are placed three golden ciboria. A ciborium is an ecclesiastical vessel used to hold the consecrated species of The Blessed Sacrament, the real and true presence of Jesus Christ. These consecrated hosts are the Body of Christ, in Latin, Corpus Christi, the name of the See City.
For his personal arms, His Excellency, Bishop Mulvey has adopted a design that reflects his heritage and his ministry as a priest of Jesus Christ.
These arms are composed of two sections. The upper portion which is gold and has displayed upon it a red escallop (Scallop shell) taken from the arms of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, who, in the name of The Church, has called His Excellency to the fullness of Christ’s Priesthood as a bishop. The shell is also a symbol of baptism and the journey of holiness to which all are called. The lower portion of the design has two blue lions that are taken from the Mulvey Family coat of arms. The blue wavy bar across the center of the design represents the Colorado River that runs through the Diocese of Austin. It is taken from the arms of the Diocese of Austin, the home diocese of Bishop Mulvey and the diocese he served for 35 years in many capacities, including diocesan administrator.
The three silver stars signify Bishop Mulvey’s mother’s heritage and symbolize the Most Holy Trinity.
For his motto, Bishop Mulvey has selected the phrase “SENTENTIA IN CHRISTO VOBIS.” This Latin phrase, derived from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (Phil. 2:5), expresses The Bishop’s deep belief, that in order to be a man of communion, he is to “put on the same attitude that we observe in Christ,” or as might be said, “have the same attitude as Christ.”
The achievement is completed by the external ornamentation which are a gold processional cross, that is placed in back of the shield 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
Diocese of Providence (RI-USA)