Seminary Coat of Arms
Although the Seminary of Christ the King was founded in 1931, until 2014 it had no coat of arms. Many attempts were, in fact, made to design one but none proved satisfactory. In recent years, several factors have come into play to make the need for such an emblem felt such as the Ministry of Advanced Education in British Columbia mandating a new phase of accreditation for post-secondary educational institutions. The Seminary therefore needed to be clearly recognizable to the world of education. But since it also takes part in the life of the Church, the Seminary wishes to heed the increasingly forceful summons to a new evangelization. And so, wanting to be faithful to the voice of the Lord, the Seminary hopes that its coat of arms will serve as a sign that will not only identify it before the world but also give it a missionary focus and direction.
Since the Middle Ages it has been common for soldiers and nobility to identify themselves with symbols and emblems on seals, banners, shields and surcoats. From this eventually developed the science of heraldry.
Both civic and ecclesiastical heraldry follow the same rules with regard to the composition and definition of a shield. But what is distinctive about ecclesiastical heraldry is the religious motifs which adorn it. In drawing up its coat of arms, the Seminary selected from the wealth of available symbols to show forth its particular origin, identity, and mission. A description of its coat of arms follows.
The main element of the shield is the cross, representing the Gospel kerygma or proclamation. The boat represents the Church on mission, bringing the Good News of the Cross of Christ, and also evokes Jesus’ call to his disciples to be “fishers of men” (Mt 4:19). The waves below reflect proximity to the Pacific Ocean; they also represent the world through which the Church journeys. Similar waves appear on the coats of arms of both the Vancouver Archdiocese and the province of British Columbia.
The four chevron shapes are a stylized heraldic rendering of mountains. They represent the Cheam range east of the Seminary, and also recall the four pillars of priestly formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral.
The three heraldic dogwoods, the provincial flower of British Columbia, symbolize the Trinity. The mystery of the Trinity is the foundation of our faith, the goal and journey of the Church and all formation.
The royal crown represents Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe to whom the Seminary’s founder, Archbishop William M. Duke, dedicated his new Seminary. The Feast of Christ the King had been instituted by Pope Pius XI only a few years earlier in 1925.
The principal colour of the coat of arms is blue, which represents the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout the process of priestly formation. The contrasting gold (or yellow) refers at once to the glory of Christ the King and to the Seminary’s communion with the See of Peter.
The Latin motto “cui servire regnare est,” can be translated as “to serve Him is to reign.” Its origin is not entirely clear but the first written text in which it appears seems to be the Gelasian Sacramentary, a Roman liturgical book compiled in the 8th century. There, it forms part of a collect for peace. Liturgical texts have always had a formative influence on the prayer and reflection of monks and theologians. So it comes as little surprise that in the following centuries, this Latin phrase is often used by medieval writers, from Bl. Alcuin of York (9th century) to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (12th century). It appears again more recently in paragraph 36 of Lumen gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s document on the Church. There it speaks of how Christians share in the royal office of Christ the King when by their words and example they lead their fellow men to enter into his kingdom. Peace on earth, worship of God, evangelization of our brothers and sisters – the motto of the Seminary’s coat of arms exhorts us to all of these when it bids us to serve Christ our King.