Bishop Edward Weisenburger’s episcopal coat of arms reflects his chosen motto, “Ecce Agnus Dei” — “Behold the Lamb of God.”
James-Charles Noonan Jr. of Gwynedd Valley, Pa., one of the few Vatican-trained heraldic artists, designed the arms and offered an explanation of its imagery.
The Lamb of God appears on the right side of the shield, its resting position representing the peace that only Christ can bring to the world. With the Lamb is the banner of Christianity. Its white field represents purity and truth, and the red cross represents martyrdom of the early Christians.
Above the Lamb are two bundles of wheat, which reflect the crop of Kansas, as well as the Eucharist.
Below the Lamb is an arrowhead, which comes from the shield of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. The arrowhead points downward, reflecting the attribute of mercy.
References to the Lamb, the Lamb of God and the Lion-Lamb of God are found in the Old Testament, the Gospels of the New Testament and also in the Book of Revelation.
Although each reference refers to the Savior in one form or another, it was St. John the Baptist who first applied the title Lamb of God on the living Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, when he saw the Lord approaching. On that day, at the approach of his cousin, John the Baptist proclaimed “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29).
The blue background, Noonan explained, reflects the Virgin Mary as well as the expansive skies of both the Salina Diocese and the Oklahoma City Archdiocese.
Traditionally, the right side of the bishop’s arms reflect his motto, while the left represents his diocese.
The six-pointed blue star came from the original Diocese of Concordia’s shield and symbolizes the Marian title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the diocese’s patroness. The heart represents the new diocese, after the see was moved from Concordia to Salina in 1945, and its new cathedral, which was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The shield is surrounded by other imagery. The pilgrim’s hat, or galero, is the emblem for all prelates and priests. The six tassels, called fiocchi, at the ends of cords, called cordiere, indicate the office of bishop; an archbishop’s arms has 10 tassels. They and the hat always are painted green; the red interior of the hat represents the clergy’s potential martyrdom for the vocation that have accepted.
The episcopal cross behind the coat of arms has three Fleur de Lys emblems that honor the Virgin Mary and also are a reference to St. Edward the Confessor, the patron saint whom Bishop Weisenburger wished to honor. Edward of England was said to have carried a cross of this design into battle that honored the Virgin Mary; the star sapphire at its center commemorates the Annunciation.
The overall style of the coat of arms, Noonan explained, remains faithful to the Church heraldry originally developed in the Middle Ages.
Noonan’s original design, framed in the bishop’s office in the Chancery, was hand-painted by Linda Nicholson of Ontario, Canada, a craft painter of the Society of Heraldic Arts in England.