The alphabet is one set of arbitrary symbols. The figures of heraldry are another set of arbitrary symbols. In the fourteenth century every gentleman knew one: in the twentieth century every gentleman knows the other. The first gentleman was just precisely as ignorant for not knowing that c-a-t spells "cat," as the second gentleman is for not knowing that a St. Andrew's Cross is called a cross saltire, or that vert on gules is bad heraldry. -- G.K. Chesterson
I'm an Academic Herald. I'm not a "real" herald; I don't register people's coats of arms (though I can certainly suggest designs for those who might be interested). What I do is study, research, teach, and write about heraldry. And I like to share what I have learned about heraldry, hence this blog. I hope that you'll find it informative, interesting at least occasionally, and worth your time to come back. Got a question? Comments? Feel free to let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can find my contact information in my Profile.
This is what happens when an heraldic artist has never seen anything more than a very rough description of an heraldic beast when painting ...
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Monday, September 16, 2013
Is It Real, or Is It (Well, Not Memorex, but....)
Next door to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana, is the MacDougal Memorial Chapel. It's a large round building, that in a way rather reminded me of the baptistery near the Duomo in Florence, Italy.
However, other than that initial impression, the two buildings are entirely different in style and decoration. And the decoration here that caught my eye were the armorial panels over the windows. There were two sets of eight shields, which were repeated as they went around the building. Here are close ups of the two sets.
The first panel is done on heater shield shapes; the second on roundels.
The top row in the first panel is, from left to right, the Holy Spirit descending the form of a dove, the crossed keys of St. Peter, the chalice and host of Communion, and three stalks of wheat bound by a ribbon. The second row is a cross couped (sometimes called a Greek cross), a grapevine fructed, three escallops (the escallop shell being a symbol of pilgrimage, particularly in reference to a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James at Compostela, Spain), and a sword inverted entwined by a snake.
The top row in the second is another grapevine fructed, the Chi Rho, three stalks of wheat bound by a ribbon, and a chalice with a cross issuant from its bowl. The bottom row of the second panel is two fishes in saltire (heads downwards), the chalice and host again, a Latin cross surmounted by a monogram of the Greek letters alpha and omega, and a pomegranate.
As you can easily see, these are all religious symbols, many with Biblical referents. Are they "real" heraldry? I do not believe so, but they are certainly appropriate architectural elements appended to a chapel.