The Order of Saint Benedict

Saint Benedict
Attributed Arms

and Ecclesiastical Heraldic Stained Glass



Gules, a book or on which rests a broken chalice or, both superimposed on a Latin cross or.

The book symbolizes the Rule for Monasteries written by Saint Benedict, and the fractured cup recalls the miracle that foiled a plot by evil monks to poison our Holy Father.



The arms shown are part of two series of seven windows each ornamented with heraldic stained glass. The windows are on two floors at the southeast corner of Emmaus Hall, Collegeville, Minnesota. The building was designed to house the seminary of the Diocese of Saint Cloud. The seminary was dedicated 16 September 1952 by His Eminence Edward Cardinal Mooney, Archbishop of Detroit. Renovated, the building now serves as a residence for men and women graduate students in the School of Theology of Saint John's University.

The arms above are known as "attributed arms" since Saint Benedict (480-547 A.D.) lived and died long before clerics and ecclesiastical office holders adopted the use of arms. The use of gules, or red, in the field implies for some a certain nobility, sovereignity or martial prowess -- fitting, perhaps, for a Patriarch. Gules is also the tincture most frequently used in heraldry. Select the image above for a larger version.

The, as yet un-named, heraldic artist has positioned many of the arms in this series on a latin cross to achieve an artistic unity to the series. The cross behind the shield, therefore, is not part of the arms per se. Likewise, the artist has "diapered" the field. This embellishment is frequently employed in stained glass "for the express purpose of catching and breaking up the light, the result of which was to give an enormously increased effect of brilliance to the large and otherwise flat surfaces." Such diapering "never forms any part of the blazon, and is never officially noticed, being considered, and very properly allowed to remain, a purely artistic detail" (Fox-Davies, 90). The ribbons and ornamentation of the chalice are also legitimate peculiarities of this artist's rendition of the blazon.

[St. Cloud, priest] The windows of this series of attributed arms of the saints are located in the library on the lower level of Emmaus Hall. They are augmented throughout by a scroll at the base bearing the name of the "bearer" of the arms. Other saints represented by attributed arms in the series are Saint Cloud de Nogent sur Seine (Clodoald), patron of the diocese; Saint Charles Borromeo of Milan; Saint John Chrysostom of Constantinople; Saint Francis of Assisi; Saint John Vianney, the curé of Ars; and Saint Francis de Sales. [Restap: Sales, Savoie]Francis de Sales, listed in Velde's armory of famous people, "had arms of his own, namely: Azure two bars gules bordered or, between a crescent in chief and two mullets in fess point and in base of the third" (Velde, e-mail, dated 17 June 1995).

The ecclesiastical, civic and corporate arms in the series on the upper floor are those of His Holiness Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli, 1876-1958), Bishop of Rome from 1939-1958; Most Rev. Joseph F. Busch, D.D. (1866-1953), bishop of the diocese from 1915 until 1953; Most Rev. Peter W. Bartholome, D.D. (1893-1982), appointed coadjutur 1941, ordinary 1953-68; the Diocese of Saint Cloud; Saint John's Abbey; the United States of America; and the state of Minnesota.

Select Resources:

Bayne OSB, Dom William Wilfrid. "An American Benedictine Armorial," Liturgical Arts 31:1 (November 1962) 10-11.

Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles. A Complete Guide to Heraldry. London: Nelson, n.d.

[St. Cloud Diocese]Heim, Bruno Bernard, Abp. Heraldry in the Catholic Church: its origin, customs and laws. Van Duren/Humanities, 1978.

Rothery, Guy Cadogan. Concise Encyclopedia of Heraldry. London: Bracken, 1985. First published as ABC of Heraldry, 1915.

Selvester, Rev. Guy. Priest, Heraldic Designer & Artist.

Velde, François. Heraldry Site <>.

Volborth, Carl-Alexander von. Heraldry: customs, rules and styles. Blandford, 1983.


Photographs and hypertext by Richard Oliver OSB MA, June 1995.


OSB Index | CSB and SJU
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