Thursday, January 28, 2021

More Heraldry, Less Information

Yeah, I know. The title of this blog is ripped off from an old light beer commercial, "More taste. Less filling."

Still, in some ways it fits, as I've not found very much information about the people in the next two memorials in St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium.

The first of these memorials if for Cornelius Pierin (died 1668), Canon of the Chapter. I’ve not been able to find but the barest references to Canon Pierin.

Alas, with so little information about him, I have also been unable to determine the tinctures of his coat of arms, which I can only blazon as: A fess between a trefoil slipped and a chevron.

The other memorial for this post is that of Philip Sylvio, who died in 1628 at age 57, a Canon of the Chapter for 28 years. I have not been able to find other information on him, either.

His arms, too, lack tinctures. The best I can do is to blazon them as: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Per bend; 2 and 3, A saltire raguly.

I've searched pretty thoroughly for both of these coats of arms, in Riestap's Armorial Général and my "go to" book for Belgian heraldry, the Wapenboek van de Belgische Adel, a very thick book I was fortunate to find and purchase (and haul home; I swear, I think it doubled the weight of my hand luggage when we flew back) when we visited Belgium several years ago, with no results.

Nonetheless, these men were both Canons of the Chapter of the Cathedral, clearly worth memorializing there, and each has an interesting coat of arms with unusual or rare features, which I thought were worth sharing with you.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Remember the Ladies

Abigail Adams, née Smith, wife of founding father and second President of the United States John Adams, often wrote letters to her husband while he was away from the family farm tending to the important business of revolution and establishing a new nation state, offering him her views and political advice. In her letters, she also penned her thoughts on how women should have the same rights as men, urging Adams and the Continental Congress to “remember the ladies.”

In the field of heraldry, we often find ourselves focusing on men, because in most countries, it is only the sons of armigers who inherit a family's coat of arms.

And yet, there are times when memorializing the female members of an extended family is entirely appropriate, and (in my opinion) ought to be done more often.

An example is today's memorial from St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent.

The memorial is to Maximilien II van de Woestyne de Becelaere, Vicar General of the Chapter of St. Bavo’s Cathedral and lord of Caridon.

We'll get to the van de Woestyne arms at the top of the memorial in a moment.

Maximilian II was the son of Maximilian van de Woestyne de Becelaere (d. 1669) and Anne of Huerne. Flanking the central panel of the memorial are eight shields: the paternal arms of van de Woestyne on the upper left (Sable a chevron between three escallops argent), and the arms of Maximilian II's mother's family, Huerne, on the upper right (Argent a fess and in chief three merlettes [or martlets] sable).

The other six shields would be those of grandfathers and grandmothers and great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers on both sides of his family. Here's a close-up of the four on the left (with the surname carved on a ribbon above each shield):

Of course, at the top in the most prominent position are his (Maximilien II van de Woestyne de Becelaere) arms (Sable a chevron between three escallops argent).

So, yeah, it's a memorial to a man. But it's also an armorial memorial to his antecedents, both male and female, thus helping us all, in the words of Abigail Adams, to "remember the ladies."

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!