The Order of Saint Benedict | General Information | Bayne
Armorial insignia are of military origin and a by-product of the feudalism of the Middle Ages. They appear to have been adopted primarily for the practical purpose of identification on the field of battle where the feudal leader encased in armour would have been, without some distinguishing mark, unrecognizable by his followers. Later they came to be identified with the holding of land in vassalage and were found to be a convenient device for identification and authentication when incorporated in the landholder's seal, to be attached to charters and other legal documents. The custom of authenticating documents by means of seals bearing the personal arms of the contracting parties led the way to the adopting of heraldic insignia by those to whom they were not necessary for military purposes.
Shields of arms thus came to be adopted by ecclesiastical dignitaries and religious communities. Many of the latter used the arms of the feudal lords who had founded their houses, or variations of them. The collection of arms here presented does not pretend to be exhaustive.
The series is restricted to houses of monks within the confines of the United States. Some of these have not yet adopted arms. Thirteen of the series are houses of the American-Cassinese Congregation, founded from Bavaria under the patronage of King Ludwig I. Some of these houses have incorporated the ancient arms of Bavaria in their own.
Nine houses of the Swiss American Congregation are represented. Eight of these look to the Abbey of Einsiedeln, in Switzerland, as their mother house, and some of them have introduced into their arms the two black eagles (erroneously called "ravens") which appear in the ancient coat of Einsiedeln, at one time under the patronage of the Holy Roman Emperors. The Abbey of Mount Angel, founded from Engelberg, impales its arms with those of the mother house.
Three houses of the series are of the English Benedictine Congregation, namely the Priory of St. Gregory the Great, Portsmouth, Rhode Island; St. Anselm's Priory, Washington, DC; and Sts. Mary and Louis Priory, St. Louis, Missouri. The monastery of Mount Saviour, near Elmira, New York, once directly under the Abbot Primate, joined the American-Cassinese Congregation in 2004.
1. St. Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Arms: Bendy fusily azure and argent, (Arms of Bavaria), on a chevron reversed sable three roundels argent each charged with a cross throughout sable. The silver roundels on a black field are taken from the arms of William Penn.
2. Saint John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota. Arms: Quarterly; 1. and 4., Gules, a fleur-de-lis or; 2. and 3., Bendy fusily azure and argent.
3. St. Procopius Abbey, Lisle, Illinois. Arms: Argent, a cross patée throughout sable, over all an eagle displayed argent, armed and beakded or, its feathers outlined in gold, on the breast a crescent each horn terminating in a trefoil, also gold. The eagle used is Bohemian in origin.
4. St. Mary's Abbey, Morristown, New Jersey. Arms: Bendy fusily azure and argent, on a bend sable a crescent placed bendwise between two roundels argent each charged with a cross couped sable.
5. St. Gregory's Abbey, Shawnee, Oklahoma. Arms: Parted per pale: dexter, Azure, in chief a dove descending proper, in base the papal tiara and crossed keys or; sinister, Gules, a latin cross argent supported by a tremont in base vert, over all in fess the word PAX in gold.
6. St. Bede's Abbey, Peru, Illinois. Arms: Vert, a tremont in base supporting a patriarchal cross or, over all in fess the word PAX also gold; on a chief argent the letter B gules.
7. Belmont Abbey, Belmont, North Carolina. Arms: Azure, in base a terrage argent supporting a lion couchant or, in chief ten stars of six points each argent.
8. St. Bernard's Abbey, St. Bernard, Alabama. Arms: Tierced fessways; 1. Azure, two croziers crossed in saltire behind a bee-hive all gold; 2. Vert, a tremont in base supporting a patriarchal cross or, over all in fess the word PAX also gold; 3. Argent, a saltire gules. Argent, a saltire gules is the State flag of Alabama.
9. Holy Cross Abbey, Canon City, Colorado. Arms: Gules, on a chief and pale conjoined argent a latin cross couped of the field, three roundels counterchanged two and one. The three roundels are taken from the arms of Pope Pius XI.
10. Assumption Abbey, Richardton, North Dakota. Arms: Parted per pale: dexter, Azure, a monogram of the Blessed Virgin surmounted by an open crown all gold; sinister, Gules, a cross throughout argent, in the first quarter a garb or; at the fess point an inescutcheon, Vert, a tremont in base supporting a patriarchal cross or, over all in fess the word PAX also gold.
11. St. Benedict's Abbey, Atchison, Kansas. Arms: Argent, a cross moline sable, on a chief embattled azure a crescent argent. The cross moline is associated with St. Benedict, the crescent symbolizes the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, raised by grace above the sublunary world.
12. St. Anselm's Abbey, Manchester, New Hampshire. Arms: Argent, a cross throughout sable between twelve drops of blood, (arms attributed to St. Anselm), in pale a sheaf of five arrows triply bound argent, (taken from the State seal of New Hampshire).
13. Saint Leo Abbey, St. Leo, Florida. Arms: Bendy fusily azure and argent, a rose gules; on a chief azure five mullets argent.
The arms of St. Benedict's Abbey, Benet Lake, Mount Angel Abbey, Mount Saviour Priory, St. Louis Priory, and St. Pius X Priory were designed by the author.
[This article originally appeared in Liturgical Arts 31:1 (November 1962) 10-11. © Copyright 1962 by Liturgical Arts Society, Inc., NY.
The arms of the Order of Saint Benedict (Azure, a tremont vert in base supporting a patriarchal cross or, over all in fess the word PAX also gold) adorn the head of this article.
Some of the Priories mentioned in the article have been raised to the rank of Abbey. St. Pius X Priory and Holy Cross Abbey have been dissolved. R.O.]
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