Heraldic question

This evening I took a look at heraldist Fr. Guy Selvester’s blog Exarandorum, which shows examples of heraldry in the coats of arms of bishops, parishes, and dioceses.

To start with, the posts tagged with the label “Bad Heraldry” are particularly educational for an uninstructed person such as myself, and some are a bit amusing.  They remind me of the classic site “Web Pages That Suck”, which helped readers learn good design by looking at examples of bad design.

coat of arms of Bp. Steven LopesThe most recent posting by Fr. Selvester is not a case of Bad anything. It is the noted artist Marco Foppoli’s rendering of a new coat of arms for Bishop-elect Steven Lopes. He was recently appointed by Pope Francis to lead the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, the diocese-like structure for Catholics of Anglican heritage in the United States.

It took me a minute or so to get the symbols: the wolf for the surname, because “Lopes” (a Portuguese name) is derived from Latin lupus; and the crown for his Christian name Steven, since a crown is a stephanos in Greek. A tidy use of symbols!

Are there any readers with an interest in heraldry who could tell me what are the objects to the left and right of the crown?

While Bishop-elect Lopes is a worthy candidate for the office, I do think that some bishops ought to depict a wolf on their coats of arms, whether it’s historically justified or not, just as a matter of Truth In Labeling.


Lots of blame for the Pope, but no praise

Where are the praises? Where are the bouquets?

The other day we heard from people who blew their stack over the Pope Francis spoken-word-with-pop-music recording made by some record producer.

One Catholic writer reacted on Facebook with one word: “Sick.” A non-Catholic musician heard a Latin Gregorian chant text sung over some drab rock music, and wrote to me to call it “satanic”, and to say that it put a stop to his interest in joining the Church. Other people insisted that this horrible thing was an “official Vatican project” and that the Pope was personally responsible for it.

Really, it was no big deal: adding pop music to papal speeches is just something goofy that happens every few years over in Italy. Here you can listen to samples of the big-name Sony Classical recording of Pope John Paul II’s words similarly adorned with pop music.

But what will the overreacting critics say now? The Sistine Chapel Choir — a real institution of the Holy See — has issued a recording of Renaissance sacred music with some Gregorian chant, and the launch event included the presence of the prefect of the papal household. Following their own logic, those critics ought to be walking on air, saying that Pope Francis is personally responsible for fostering this worthy project. (Audio samples here.)

But they’re quiet now.

The thing that is really a bit sickly is when people are so dispirited about the Pope that they overreact to trivial news stories and jump to ridiculous conclusions.

Does this express the Faith well?

Since it’s August 13, devotions are being held today at Fatima: the rosary, a procession, and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Here’s a little glimpse:

Fatima monstrance 1

Yes, that is the monstrance in which the Most Holy is presented for the adoration of the faithful. Isn’t it kind of distracting?

Fatima monstance 2

The enemy of my enemy is my friend

Margaret Cabaniss, at insidecatholic.com, joins Vanity Fair‘s Paul Cullum in sniffing at the work of decorative painter Thomas Kinkade.
On the one hand, I have to admit his stuff is not great art. It’s dreamy, nostalgic, sentimental, formulaic, and escapist. So what? It’s decorative. On that score, at least it’s better than a painting made of elephant droppings.
I’m not a fan of his works by any means, but it bothers me to see good writers fall into the snobbery attached to most criticism of Kinkade.
Vanity Fair and other elites would ignore Thomas Kinkade altogether but for one reason: he portrays Protestant Christian small-town America as a comforting milieu, whereas the elites insist that it was oppressive to the core.

I’m a Catholic nitwit

It appears that Philip Pullman thinks I’m a Catholic nitwit.
Here is the response I just emailed to the Times On-line:

I pity poor Philip Pullman
The man spends years of his life objecting to Christianity, and now he apparently objects to Christians objecting to his objections. Mr. Pullman even resorts to stereotyping and name-calling when responding to critics like myself. Ironically, his are the same tactics employed by the evil magesterium in his novels.
I would believe such behaviour unbecoming of an award-winning children’s author. Certainly Mrs. Rowling has always been graceful in responding to her critics. (And as both a fan and a critic of her work, I was disappointed when the last chapter of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” neglected to Luna Lovegood’s future). However, when the average reader is trusted as Mr. Pullman suggests, the number of book sales establishes Mrs. Rowling – a Christian – as clearly the better author.
Pete Vere
Catholic nitwit and co-author of the forthcoming Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children’s Fantasy