The Coat of Arms of Bishop Morlino
The Most Reverend Robert Morlino
Fourth Bishop of Madison
The Episcopal heraldic achievement, or bishop's coat of arms, is composed of a shield, with its charges (symbols), a motto scroll and the external ornaments. The shield is blazoned (described) in twelfth century terms, that are archaic to our modern language, and this description is done as if being given by the bearer with the shield being worn on the arm. Thus, it must be remembered, where it applies, that the terms dexter (right) and sinister (left) are reversed as the device is viewed from the front.
By heraldic tradition, the arms of the bishop of a diocese, called the "Ordinary," are joined to the arms of his jurisdiction, seen in the dexter impalement (left side) of the shield. In this case, these are arms of the Diocese of Madison.
The arms of the diocese are composed of a field that is wavy bars of silver (white) and blue. This is the traditional heraldic representation for water and the field of "water" is divided by a red cross into four sections to remind us of the lakes of the region around Madison. On the red cross is a fish and this conjunction of symbols is a classic symbolic representation for Saint Raphael, the titular of the Cathedral Church of Madison. Raphael means "healer of God" and his ministrations to men make interesting reading in the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament. The fish recalls the episode where Raphael ordered Tobias to cook a fish to eat but removed the heart, liver and gall for future medicinal use. Later the liver was used by Tobias to drive out the devil, who had slain seven of the previous husbands of Sara, his wife, while the gall was used to restore sight to his blind father.
For his personal arms, seen in the sinister impalement (right side) of the shield, His Excellency, Bishop Morlino, has adopted a design that his life and heritage as a priest and now as a bishop would suggest.
His Excellency's shield is distinctly formed by the fess ordinary, which refers to the broad bar running from side to side across the middle of the shield. The upper most part of his shield highlights His Excellency and draws forward aspects of his spiritual life. The golden turret, to begin with, in the chief dexter (upper left), doubles in meaning. The turret in heraldry symbolizes a place of refuge, strength and of safety. Drawing to mind the journey towards the very center of Christ's presence, there is the need at times to take refuge on the journey, to reset, to be strengthened and to be renewed once again for the journey. Following in the footsteps of the apostles, His Excellency strives to point always to Christ and to strengthen and encourage the spiritual life of those who come to him.
In the chief sinister (upper right) is a book which serves to reference His Excellency's thirst for knowledge of things that concern God and His Church. The passion to know more about God, however, is not reserved to his person, but overflows into a desire to share the faith and to learn about how God is personally calling others unto Himself.
The combination of these two charges, perhaps more importantly, alludes to the encyclical Fides et Ratio, which is a very significant foundational component of His Excellency's spiritual and intellectual life.
Upon the fess (center) of the shield, is a golden crescent moon upon a background of blue. The blue field serves to recall not only the blue in which Our Lady is traditionally depicted, but also of water. First of all, water reminds those who look upon the arms of the flowing waters of baptism, waters that incorporate one into the body of Christ and His Church. Yet, this field also evokes images of the tears of those who followed Christ during the crucifixion. These tears of the disciples are also like the tears we shed during our moments of spiritual growth. In a similar way to the apostles, we are confronted with many difficulties. It is from these difficulties - these sufferings - that we are able to unite ourselves in a very profound way to the cross from which Jesus hung, and furthermore, to Mary who keeps vigil below that cross. As the first believer of Jesus, Mary reminds and shows each of us what it means to be a follower of her Son, how to draw closer to Him and how to trust in the plans of God. The golden crescent moon recalls especially the "great sign that appeared in heaven" recorded in the New Testament Book of Revelation (12:1). This great sign confirms Mary's presence, body and soul, in heaven. This mystery proclaims the dignity and destiny of the human body concerning which our culture stands in need of enlightenment.
The "lion passant" of gold in the lowest part of the shield alludes to the strength and liveliness of His Excellency in all that he does, but most especially in defending the faith. This charge further seeks to reveal His Excellency's strong devotion to Pope Saint Leo the Great that began to develop during the formation of his master's thesis. The great love that His Excellency has for Saint Leo the Great swelled unto an abundant love and devotion to the papacy and those that fill the shoes of Saint Peter.
The red background, overall, calls to mind the blood of the martyrs. From the examples of the martyrs we cannot only learn, but we can be strengthened in the virtue of fortitude, the strength of faith when in the danger of death, from which similar virtues flow.
For his motto, His Excellency has selected the phrase Visus Non Mentietur. This phrase, which is taken from the Second Chapter of the Old Testament Book of Habakkuk (2:3), is translated, "the vision will not disappoint." In these words, His Excellency expresses the solid foundation of all Christian doctrine: the revelation of Jesus Christ is the only sure anchor of our hope, the only vision that will never disappoint.
The device is completed with the external ornaments which are a gold Episcopal processional cross, which is placed in back of the shield and which extends above and below the shield, and pontifical gallero (hat), with its six tassels, in three rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of bishop by instruction of The Holy See of March 31, 1969.