Coat of Arms of his Holiness John Paul II.
By definition, ecclesiastical arms are associated with the administrative and collegiate bodies of a church, particularly the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Presbyterian churches. Abbeys, priories, and dioceses also have their own coats of arms, and high ecclesiastical functionaries have always added their personal arms. Ecclesiastical heraldry naturally divides itself into various branches, principally: the arms of religious corporations, and other bodies; the insignia of ecclesiastical dignity, rank, or office; the charges, terms, and forms of general heraldry having a religious or ecclesiastical origin, usage, or character; the emblems or devices attributed to or typifying particular saints or other beings venerated by the Church.

There is no hard and fast dividing line between heraldry in general and ecclesiastical heraldry -- each has the same origin, the same lines of coeval development -- but the application of heraldry to ecclesiastical purposes first occurs in the appearance of armorial bearings of a personal and family nature on ecclesiastical seals, and of sacred or saintly devices upon vestments and ecclesiastical banners. The latter influence is of less importance because it was more ephemeral and more in the nature of pure symbolism than of armory.


To view a particular ecclesiastical coat of arms, click on the letter below which is the first letter of ecclesiastical name. A new window will materialize showing "thumbnail" images of all ecclesiastical' arms in which its name begins with the letter clicked on earlier. On this page, find the surname of interest, and click on the "thumbnail" image in order to retrieve a page containing a full colour presentation of the arms, including its blazon.

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