Monday 29 September 2014

A new coat for Michaelmas

Today is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel - or Michaelmas, if you prefer the more antiquated term.

St. Michael is the patron and protector of the Archdiocese of Toronto, as well as grocers, mariners, police and paratroopers.

Michael led the army of angels against Satan in the battle for heaven. In Hebrew, Micha'el means "Who is like God?".  The name was the war cry of the good angels - a rhetorical question demanded scornfully of Lucifer and his fallen angels. The motto of the Archdiocese of Toronto is Quis ut Deus, which is Latin for "Who is like God?" 

Our patron saint has been represented on both renditions of the archdiocesan coat of arms. In 1935, Archbishop of Toronto James McGuigan formalized the first corporate crest, which included the golden wings of the archangel.

From the archives, this undated document gives the official description of the coat of arms that appears on the old letterhead.

"The arms consist of the erect, golden wings representing St. Michael, the Patron of the Diocese..."

In the archives, we also store the (very heavy) metal shield that used to grace the entrance of the former chancery building:

In 1984, G. Emmett Cardinal Carter asked the College of Arms in London to create new corporate arms that would strongly reinforce the image of St. Michael as the protector of Toronto.

Our current crest is therefore dominated by the diagonal spear of St. Michael, which overcomes and controls the dragon’s head, symbolic of the Devil. The rays of light at the upper end of the cruciform shaft also allude to the Archangel, whose light overcomes Lucifer.

Description of the 1984 archdiocesan coat of arms on parchment.  The redesign was initiated by Cardinal Carter and registered with the College of Arms.  This version includes the archdiocesan motto "Quis ut Deus," or Who is like God?

A year ago, Thomas Cardinal Collins updated the coat of arms to include a mitre and more stylized shield. All archdiocesan communications now boast the new logo:

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