Thursday, January 21, 2021

Another Coat of Arms on a Reliquary, Plus!

St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent has a lot of reliquaries. And a lot of those reliquaries have the arms of various Bishops of the Diocese of Ghent embroidered on them, as we have seen.

Today's offering is another one of these (with an added bonus further below!).

Here on this reliquary, in the center we have a phoenix rising from flames with a shield on its breast. To the right, we have the quartered arms of the Bishop of Ghent quartered with those of either Bishop Philippe Erard van der Noot or Bishop Maximilian Antoon van der Noot, which we saw previously in the blog post of January 11, 2021.

On the left, we have a new (to us) coat of arms.

These arms, also quartered with the arms of the Bishop of Ghent, are those of Bishop Antoon Triest, the seventh Bishop of Ghent, 1622-1657. (He was preceded by the subject of our previous post, Jacob Boonen.) Bishop Triest also has his own entry in Wikipedia, for those of you who would like to know more about him ( 

Quarterly: 1 and 4, Azure a lion rampant barry of six argent and gules crowned or (Bishop of St. Bavo); 2 and 3, Or two hunting horns and a hound courant sable (Triest) (these arms should actually be colored Sable two hunting horns argent garnished or and a hound courant argent). Motto: Confidenter (Confidently).

Elsewhere in the Cathedral, we find Bishop Triest's arms again, this time carved prominently onto his monument:

The lower part of the monument bears a carved reclining figure of the Bishop (seen here with a couple of the many tourists visiting the Cathedral that day):

Below his figure is a Latin inscription that translates to "Antoon 7th Bishop of Ghent":

But, of course, it's really the coat of arms at the top that I was most interested in, surmounted by the galero of a bishop and supported by two winged cherubs:

That is quite the monument, isn't it? (I suppose that if I want to have a memorial like that after I'm gone, I'd better start saving up forty or so years ago.) But don't you just have to admire the quality (and quantity) of the stone carving there?

Monday, January 18, 2021

Bishop's Arms on a Reliquary

Having looked at the coats of arms of two Bishops of Ghent, we now find the arms of a third, this time on a reliquary displayed in St. Bavo's Cathedral.

The reliquaries on display are all encased in glass cabinets, which is great for their protection, but also create issues with photographing them because of reflections in the glass. Anyway, this is the best that I could do at the time.

Here's a close-up from slightly different angle, which reduced the reflections sufficiently to allow you to really see the embroidered coat of arms on the end of the reliquary casket.

The arms here are those of the office of the Bishop of St. Bavo (which we have seen before), quartered with the personal arms of Jacob Boonen, sixth Bishop of Ghent 1617-1620. He was later the fourth Archbishop of Mechelen (1621-1655). If you'd like to know more about him, he has his own entry on Wikipedia (

The arms here are blazoned: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Azure a lion rampant barry (usually of six) argent and gules crowned or (Bishop of St. Bavo); 2 and 3, Or a saltire argent fimbriated gules (Boonen). Motto: Vince in bono (Overcome in good). The whole surmounted by the galero (ecclesiastical hat) of a bishop.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Arms of Another Bishop of Ghent

Another Bishop of the Diocese of Ghent, Belgium had his arms in St. Bavo's Cathedral. At the time we were there (in late 2019), he was still the Bishop, so these arms are certainly more contemporary than historical.

These arms also appear with his portrait:

These are the arms of Lucas van Looy, Bishop of Ghent 2003-2019. My best guess at a blazon would be: Argent four piles reversed [or, inverted] issuant from base and throughout sable on a chief sapiné throughout azure and vert in chief four mullets argent. The motto is: In nomine patris (In the name of the Father.)

Monday, January 11, 2021

On the Way to, and Inside of, the Cathedral in Ghent

Following all of the other buildings and monuments and most especially coats of arms we saw in our one-day excursion to Ghent, Belgium, we made our way towards the Cathedral. So first, a little background on the Cathedral itself:

Saint Bavo’s Cathedral (in Dutch, Sint Baafskathedraal) is an 89-meter (292 feet) tall Catholic cathedral in the heart of Ghent. It is the seat of the Diocese of Ghent, is named for Saint Bavo of Ghent, and contains the well-known Ghent Altarpiece by Hubert and Jan van Eyck. In 1539, as a result of the rebellion against Charles V, who was baptized in the church, the old Abbey of St. Bavo was dissolved. Its abbot and monks went on to become canons in a Chapter that was attached to what then became the Church of Saint Bavo. When the Diocese of Ghent was founded in 1559, the church became its cathedral. Construction was considered complete on June 7, 1569.

The medieval (and very rich) Abbey of St. Bavo in Ghent was secularized in the middle of the 16th century, being turned into a collegiate chapter. A generation later the bishopric of Ghent was established with the office of Provost of the St. Bavo Chapter being merged with that of Bishop (to provide it with a bigger income). So the bishopric took the arms of the medieval abbey: Azure a lion rampant barry of six argent and gules crowned armed and langued or.

We had not even made it all the way to the Cathedral before we ran across some heraldry on the corner of a building along the way that was related to it:

And here are these arms in greater detail:

These arms, clearly marked by the galero as belonging to a bishop, are blazoned: Or five escallops in cross sable. Motto: Respice finem (Look [to the] end).

Later, inside the Cathedral, I found another copy of these arms on on the portrait of Maximilian Antoon van der Noot, Bishop of Ghent 1743-1770:

That said, it is possible that the arms out on the street are those of Philippe Erard van der Noot, Bishop of Ghent 1695-1730, rather than Maximilian. However, given that they belong to the same family, it really doesn't matter very much which Bishop specifically is being commemorated; they were both van der Noots, both Bishops of Ghent, and both bore the same undifferenced arms.

Elsewhere in the Cathedral, I also ran across this version of the van der Noot arms (though with errors in the depiction), quartered with those of the Bishop of St. Bavo (see the background information above for the why's and wherefore's).

Found on a reliquary, these arms are for either Bishop Philippe Erard van der Noot or Bishop Maximilian Antoon van der Noot. The are blazoned: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Azure a lion rampant barry of six argent and gules crowned or (Bishop of St. Bavo); 2 and 3, Or a Celtic cross bottony sable. (Quarters two and three should be, of course, Or five escallops in cross sable. I could find no Bishops bearing arms with this cross. I suspect that the needleworker was copying from a very roughly drawn sketch.) Motto: Respice firen (which should be Respice finem (Look [to the] end).

With or without errors, it was gratifying to see these various versions of this family's coat of arms both inside and outside of the Cathedral.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Finally! The Last of the Civic Arms on This Building

And now we come to the final four shields of civil heraldry on this side of the building in old Ghent, Belgium.

These carved and painted shields are, from right to left this time (gotta stir things up, don't you know? Can't have people getting complacent when reading this blog), the towns of:

Dinant: Argent a demi-lion gules crowned or (surrounded by rushes gules);

Verviers: Per fess Argent three lions rampant vert crowned or and Argent an oak branch proper fructed or (or, Per fess argent and argent, in chief three lions rampant vert and in base an oak branch proper fructed or)

 Huy: Or a lion rampant sable crowned or in dexter chief the letter H sable; and

Nivelles, Argent an abbott’s crozier gules (missing in this depiction is: overall an inescutcheon of Brabant, Sable a lion rampant or).

I have to admit, now that we've finished looking at the arms across the face and side of this building, I'm trying to figure out ways to do something similar on my house. (The real issue with doing that at home is: (1) getting my wife to allow me to do it; and (2) trying to figure out how to pay to get it done. Stone carvers don't come cheap, you know!)

Monday, January 4, 2021

Always Look Around the Sides of a Building

It is so very often worth it, to go around to see the side of a building which has a frieze of heraldry on its front. And in this particular instance, I would say it was well worth the look. Because along the side we found shields of arms between every set of windows here.

On the left, we have the carved and painted arms of Veurne, Or a lion rampant to sinister sable charged on the shoulder with a trefoil slipped vert;

and on the right, the arms of Oostende, Or a chevron between three keys palewise wards to chief sable.

Further along the wall, more heraldry!

On the left, the arms of Kortrijk, Argent a chevron within a bordure engrailed gules

and on the right, those of Ieper (Ypres), Gules a cross vair on a chief argent a patriarchal cross gules.

Next time, further along this wall, more shields!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

How to Decorate a Balcony

Toward the corner of the building we looked at last time, there was a small balcony overlooking the street. It looks to me like a great place to sit of an afternoon, taking in the sights and sounds of the old city of Ghent, sipping tea (or having a Belgian ale), and watching all the tourists go by.

Once again, though, it's the heraldry that we are all about, and this balcony has three coats of arms carved into its balustrade.

From left to right, we find:

the arms of the city of Eeklo in East Flanders, Argent a wreath of oak vert an inescutcheon Or a lion rampant sable;

either Laarne or Elsegem, both in East Flanders, and both using the same coat of arms, Or a lion rampant gules; and Lokeren, also in East Flanders, Argent a gridiron sable in chief a turnip argent leaved vert. (I recommend clicking on the image above to see a larger version with better detail. The width of the columns on this blog page only allow me a certain width before it simply starts cutting off the edges of the pictures.)

As a bonus, on far right we see the arms of the city of Tienen, Argent a fess azure.

Now, here's a closer view of the balcony with all three coats of arms:

Next time, we go around the corner of this building, to see what we can see.

Monday, December 28, 2020

A Building With a Wonderful Display of Civic Heraldry

Continuing our walking tour of Ghent, Belgium, we came across this building (below), which may take three or four posts to fully cover all of the civic coats of arms found on its façade.

It is, as you can see, a very impressive building! But, as usual, it was the heraldry across its face (and, as it turns out, around its side) that really caught my eye.

For example, here's a closer view of the three coats of arms across the frieze above.

You can, as always, click on the image to see a larger version with more detail.

From left to right, we find the arms of:

the town of Sint-Niklaas in the province of East Flanders: Azure figure of a bishop between in dexter base three children in a tub and in sinister a turnip or;

what, as far as we have been able to determine (because they are not correctly depicted here), are the arms of the Congo Free State, later the Belgian Congo, mis-painted here as: Azure a fess argent in dexter chief a mullet or overall an inescutcheon Or a lion rampant sable crowned or (Flanders). The fess on the arms of the should be wavy, and inescutcheon should be the arms of Belgium, not Flanders (e.g., Sable a lion rampant or).

The city of Erpent, in Namur province, has a similar shield, theirs being Azure a fess and in dexter chief a mullet or, thus having the fess (the horizontal band) being gold instead of white, and without the inescutcheon of Belgium or Flanders. And finally, we have:

the city of Leuven, in the province of Flemish Brabant: Gules a fess argent. (Yes, I know that most of us will also recognize this shield as the arms of Austria. Trust me, here they are the arms of Leuven.)

Next time, how to armorially decorate your balcony, Belgian-style.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

It's Good to Be the ... Emperor

One of the advantages of being the Big Cheese, The Man, the CEO, the Boss, etc., etc., is that people will try to flatter you. Sometimes this will take the form of people bowing to your every whim. And other times, it means that they will put your coat of arms on fancy buildings, as we saw in our post of December 7 (

And then, sometimes they will put your coat of arms on a very fancy building, like on this one beside the main canal in the heart of the old city of Ghent, Belgium.

I know, there's a lot to look at on that façade. Look further up.

No, not the bottom row with the four figures of bishops and saints surrounding the arms of the guild whose house this is.

No, not the middle row, with the arms of Ghent and Flanders flanking the central figure.

Yes, the one on the top row. The arms of the Holy Roman Emperor, specifically Charles V, Or a double-headed eagle displayed sable, surrounded by the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, and flanked on each side by pairs of the Pillars of Hercules entwined with a scroll bearing the motto PLVS OVLTRE (as we discussed in that earlier post on December 7, meaning roughly "Further beyond"). As before, please feel free to click on the image above to see a larger version, which will give you a better idea of the scope of the detail in this heraldic carving.

Yes, indeed, it is good to be the Emperor, and have people create this kind of lasting statement for you. If only we could all be so lucky!

Monday, December 21, 2020

A Foreign Coat of Arms in Ghent

Continuing the theme of some of our recent posts, here's another food-themed bit of heraldry that also happens to be a coat of arms which is foreign to Belgium.

These are, of course the well-known arms of Brittany (Bretagne) (from northwestern France), which have the extremely simple, one-word blazon Ermine.

What does Brittany have to do with food in Belgium, you ask?

Well, it's painted on the front of this fun little establishment in Ghent:

This is the Bretoens Gwenola panne[n]koekenhuis, or Breton Gwenola Pancake House. Though they serve a few other things, too, they seem to be best known for their sweet and salty Breton pancakes and galettes (savory pancakes made from potatoes or buckwheat).

And that, my friends, is how you manage to find yourself facing the coat of arms of Brittany in the old city of Ghent, Belgium!