When a Bishop's coat-of-arms is designed, it is the usual practice to include various symbols and emblems that are descriptive of him and which signify special aspects of his family, life, and vocation. If the Bishop is not an Ordinary, (i. e. if he is not the Diocesan Bishop), his personal coat-of-arms fills the entire shield. When he is the Diocesan Bishop, it is customary to impale (i.e. to divide the shield in half and place the two coats-of-arms side-by-side) his personal arms with the coat-of-arms of his Diocese. In a very real sense, the coat-of-arms serves as a pictorial description or signature of the Bishop.
When describing the coat-of-arms it is described from the perspective of the person behind and carrying the shield, and thus the right side of the shield (dexter) is actually the left side as we look at it, and vice versa. The position of honor is the dexter side, and it is here that the coat-of-arms of the Diocese is placed.
In the coat-of-arms depicted above, Archbishop Ford has incorporated four different coats-of-arms into his own. They include the coat-of-arms of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church, the coat-of-arms of the Diocese of New England, the personal coat-of-arms of the Archbishop, and a variation of the coat-of-arms of the Franciscan Friars of The Third Order Regular.
THE NORTH AMERICAN OLD ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
The dexter side displays the coat-of-arms of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church, of which Archbishop Ford is the current Metropolitan-Primate. That coat-of arms is a shield which has been quartered in silver and gold, the colors of the Papal flag which is displayed in many parishes of the Roman Catholic Church from which The North American Old Roman Catholic Church is descended, and which it considers itself to still be an integral part of. In each quarter is found a red cross potent. Overall the entire arms of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church is divided by a large blue cross.
This large cross indicates that it is under the banner of the Cross of Jesus Christ that we, as soldiers of Jesus Christ, wage a Holy War against sin, the flesh, and the devil or Satan. It reaches to the edges of the shield to indicate that we are charged by our Divine Savior to take His message of Love and Salvation to the four corners of the earth, and to make disciples of all nations.
The four quarters represent the four Sacred Gospels upon which our Catholic Faith is based.
The silver represents the purity of the Catholic Faith and the human nature of our Lord, while the gold represents the preciousness of our Catholic Faith and also the Divine nature of Jesus Christ. The large cross is colored blue to represent our dedication to the Immaculate Mother of our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ. For it was by her cooperation with God's plan for salvation that the Savior of the world was born and thus enabled to take on our human flesh and nature.
The crosses potent are formed by joining four "T" shaped crosses, known as a Tau from the Greek letter of that name. This was an ancient symbol associated with the Old Testament passage of Ezekiel where he is told to: "Go through all the city...and mark the Tau on the foreheads of all". It is also said to be the form of the staff used by Moses to mount the bronze saraph or serpent upon. Additionally it is also emblematic of the Franciscan influence which has been associated with The North American Old Roman Catholic Church since the Primacy of Archbishop Carmel Henry Carfora. Three of the seven men to hold the office of Primate have been Franciscan Friars.
The red crosses potent are so colored to represent that we are committed to spend our blood, sweat and tears in labor for the spread and propagation of the Gospel and the Catholic Faith. They are placed in the center of each quadrant to indicate that the focus of the Gospels is Jesus Himself, and that it is He alone Whom we preach and teach. They do not reach the edges of their quadrant to indicate that our mission is yet unfinished and that we are committed to continuing the work and ministry of our Divine Savior.
Overall, the combination of the blue and red crosses form a stylized version of the Jerusalem Cross, which indicates the birthplace of our Faith, on the First Pentecost in the year 33 AD.
THE DIOCESE OF NEW ENGLAND
As Archbishop Ford is also the Ordinary or Diocesan Bishop of The Diocese of New England, he bears the coat-of-arms of that Diocese in a special positon of honor which is known as an escutcheon. It is a smaller shield placed in the center of the arms of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church.
The Arms of the Diocese of New England bears a blue shield to indicate the dedication of the Diocese to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of the Diocese. It is bordered by a small silver band to indicate that we are surrounded in all we do, by the loving protection of Almighty God.
The principal charge in the shield is a Greek cross with fleur-de-lis tips, all displayed in gold. This indcates our profession of faith in the saving power of the cross of Christ, which is the foundation and bedrock of our Catholic Faith and which we treasure more than gold. The fleur-de-lis ends represent the fact that the Catholic Faith was first brought to the territory which comprises the Diocese of New England by French missionary priests.
Beneath the cross is a silver wave to symbolize the fact that the coastal waters of the area of the diocese plays such a vital role in the life of the region, and is also an allusion to the waters of Baptism by which we receive the grace of Eternal Life in Christ Jesus.
In the base of the shield is placed a six-pointed Creator's Star. This is a traditional depiction of the star of Bethlehem which announced the birth of our Divine Savior. The six points represent the six states which comprise the Diocese of New England.
Overall, the star represents the birth of Jesus, the cross represents His death, and the Gold and Silver represent His Resurrection and Victory...thus the three principal feasts of the Church (Christmas, Good Friday and Easter) are represented and the entire message of our salvation is proclaimed in the Arms of the Diocese.
THE ARCHBISHOP'S PERSONAL ARMS
On the sinister or left side of the shield is displayed the personal arms of Archbishop Ford.
The traditional coat-of-arms of the Ford family from Ireland displays a silver shield with a blue flanche, three golden roses and two blue martlets. Archbishop Ford's arms have taken the traditional family arms and differenced them as follows.
The silver shield has been retained. The blue flanche has been changed to a blue cross to represent the Archbishop's vocation as a priest of the Catholic Church. The three golden roses have been changed to three golden scallop shells, which are the traditional emblem of St James the Greater, who is the Archbishop's secondary Baptismal patron Saint. The shells have been placed in the upper arms of the cross to indicate that St James has historically been identified as kin to our Lord. In the lower arm of the cross has been placed a golden six-pointed star taken from the arms of the Diocese of New England to indicate that the Archbishop is a son of that Diocese, and that it was to that Diocese that he was first appointed as Diocesan Bishop.
In the upper third of the shield, known as the chief, is a red field on which is placed a golden crown out of which, in a saltire position, issues a silver scepter with a golden head and a silver sword with a golden hilt. This is the traditional emblem of St Edward the Martyr, King of England, the Archbishop's primary Baptismal Patron Saint. The red signifies the struggle, loyalty and fidelity to the Faith even in the face of death. The saltire position represents the cross of St Andrew and the cross of St Patrick which are incorporated into the flag of Great Britain, which includes Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales, over which King Edward the Martyr reigned. It also represents a part of the Archbishop's family heritage...his father's family coming from Ireland, and his mother's family having Irish, Scottish, English, Welsh, and Dutch origins.
On either side of the crown is placed a silver crescent to indicate the Archbishop's personal devotion to the Holy Mother of God, and the tips are pointed heavenward to indicate the direction to which we focus our gaze, and to which we aspire eventually to go.
THE FRANCISCAN FRIARS of THE THIRD ORDER REGULAR
Centered on the lower portion of the Archbishop's coat-of-arms, in an escutcheon, is a differenced version of the coat-of-arms of the Franciscan Third Order Regular, of which the Archbishop is both a Friar and the Minister Provincial.
It consists of the traditional emblem of the Franciscan Order, known as "The Conformities". On a field of blue, is displayed the bare arm of Our Lord Jesus Christ crossed over and in front of the gray robed arm of St Francis of Assisi, both bearing the marks of the Stigmata or Sacred Wounds which were made by the nails in Our Lord's hands when He was crucified, and which St Francis, who is known as "The Mirror of Christ", bore as a precious gift from God, in imitation of his Divine Savior. Projecting above the crossed arms is a golden cross.
The base or lower portion bears the Crown of Thorns and the traditional three Nails of Our Lord's Passion, all displayed in black, and placed upon a golden field. The Crown of Thorns and the three Nails are the traditional symbol of the Third Order of Saint Francis, and tradition has it, that St Louis IX, King of France, who is the principal Patron Saint of the Third Order, rescued these sacred relics from the Holy Land in 1239 during the Crusades.
The Archbishop's motto is also the traditional motto of the Ford Family..."Lucrum Christi Mihi", which when translated means: "To me, Christ is gain (the reward)."
It is an allusion to the scriptural passage in Philippians 1: 20-21
"According to my expectation and hope; that in nothing I shall be confounded, but with all confidence, as always, so now also shall Christ be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me, to live is Christ: and to die is gain."
Ensigning the Archbishop's coat-of-arms is the traditional double barred Archepiscopal Cross in gold. Over the arms of the Diocese is placed the precious mitre and over the personal arms is placed the crozier of a Diocesan Bishop, with the curve pointed outward to indicate that he exercises proper jurisdiction over his diocese.
The Pontifical Hat is displayed above the entire coat-of-arms in a green color , which is the traditional color for bishops and archbishops. On either side are fifteen tassels displayed in five rows. This configuration is common to Cardinals who display their hat and tassels in red, to Patriarchs who display their hat and tassels in green and gold, and in our jurisdiction, to Primates, who display their hat and tassels in solid green.
An Archbishop who is not a Primate has ten tassels on each side of the shield, while a Bishop has six tassels on each side.