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Catholic Voice
  February 9, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA
Archbishop Allen Vigneron: The transition from Oakland to Detroit New archbishop’s coat of arms heralds history of Detroit and his own

Each bishop has a coat of arms composed of a shield, symbols, motto, scroll and external ornaments. Upon his episcopal ordination in 1996, Bishop Vigneron selected a design that reflects his life as a priest and as a bishop. It was incorporated into the crest of the Oakland Diocese when he was named Bishop of Oakland in 2003 and now is combined with that of the Archdiocese of Detroit (right).

The main portion of Archbishop Vigneron’s personal arms is red with blue and silver wavy bars representing water. The swan symbolizes the fact that his family has lived in the same small farming village on Swan Creek since 1840. Above the swan is a gold fleur-de-lis to honor his French heritage and his deep devotion to the Blessed Mother as the Immaculate Conception. The upper portion of his coat of arms shows a gold field with a cluster of purple grapes. This is to honor his family name, Vigneron, the French word for “vine tender.”

The left side of the shield is the crest of the Archdiocese of Detroit which symbolically honors Michigan’s spiritual father, St. Isaac Jogues, the State of Michigan, the Blessed Trinity and the City of Detroit. It is divided into four gold sections by a black cross embellished with three gold stars.

A pair of black antlers appears in the section at the upper left and a black martlet in the other three. The black and gold colors are from the shield of St. Isaac Jogues as are the antlers (which also appear in the State Seal of Michigan) and the three gold stars honor the Blessed Trinity. The martlets are mythical birds that appear on the shield of Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, whom historians honor as the founder of Detroit in 1701.

For his motto, Bishop Vigneron adopted the phrase “Aspicientes in Iesum.” Taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews (Heb. 12:2), it expresses his hope that in all we do and in all we are, we must keep our focus correct while “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.”

The external ornaments are a gold processional cross and a pontifical hat, called a gallero, with its ten tassels all in green, in four rows on either side of the shield. These insignia identify the crest as one of an archbishop.

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