The J.G. Schütz Family Coat of Arms

There is a discussion on the Hermeneutic of Continuity about coats of arms for priests. He has a picture of one on his blog, and a commentator has pointed out that Fr Z has his own crest.

I am no expert in the area, but I did listen to the papal heraldic expert in an interview with Fr Mitch Pacwa a year or so ago which was perfectly fascinating. Apparently everyone and anyone can have a coat of arms made up for themselves and their family, as long as the local civil law does not forbid it. For eg. the legal right to a coat of arms is restricted in the United Kingdom, but not in the US, or, as far as I know, in Australia.

Which leads me to this interesting fact: My family has a coat of arms. Back in 1985, when we were celebrating 130 years since my great great great grandfather Johann Gottfried Schütz came to this country, the attempt was made to find a Schütz coat of arms. Research in “the old country” (aka Der Vaterland) turned up no less than 26 separate Schütz coats of arms. Not being able to lay claim to any of these exclusively, the family (about 5000 of us at the time, must be twice that since) decided to register their own unique coat of arms. And this is it:

The meaning can be explained as follows:

The blue southern cross on the right hand side is obvious enough: it represents Australia. However, the Southern Cross also stands for our family’s Christian (read “Lutheran”) faith, while the blue stands for peace.

On the other side is an image that occurs in many Schütz crest (naturally enough since “Schütz” means “Archer/Shooter”), the bow an arrow. I can’t remember why the bow and arrow are gold, but the red background represents the difficulty, war and trouble which beset the family in Silesia (actually, in one version, the red is said to stand for the religious persecution the Old Lutherans experienced in Prussia, but by 1855 most of the religious trouble which originally forced the emigration of many of my other Silesian ancestors from the years 1838 and following was over). After decades of European warfare, the continual peace experienced in Australia must have seemed a dream. The three arrows represent 1) the laying down of arms (the arrow pointing down), 2) migration to Australia (the arrow pointing to the right), and 3) hope in God (the arrow pointing up to heaven).

Back to the program with Fr Mitch on EWTN, the Heraldic expert even spoke about deacons having coats of arms. He said that the two aspects that appeared on every diaconal shield was the upper half marked with a diagonal stripe representing the deacons stole, and, in place of the hat above the shield, a ciborium draped in the humeral veil.

Thus, I imagine that if I were ever to achieve the exalted rank of deacon in the Church, a coat of arms could look something like this:

Of course, the interesting thing is that in contradistinction to a priest’s or a bishop’s coat of arms, the deacon’s children would be entitled to inherit his.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “The J.G. Schütz Family Coat of Arms

  1. Peregrinus

    The right to grant arms, like the right to grant honours, decorations and titles, is a prerogative of the crown. Using or displaying arms which have not been granted by the crown is an offence, although one which is rarely prosecuted.

    All of the Australian colonies adopted English law, subject obviously to variation by colonial, and later state or federal, legislation. So far as I know, no state or territory has passed any legislation dealing with the grant or use of arms, so the common law position remains; devising and adopting your own arms, or using arms granted by a foreign heraldic authority, is technically an offence (“usurpation of arms”). Still, if you like living on the edge . . . .

    As one of the relics of colonial status, the (English) College of Arms grants arms to citizens and institutions of any commonwealth country which has not established its own heraldic authority, so an Australian wanting a grant of arms should apply to one of these bodies. The College of Arms does, in fact, make a number of grants of arms to Australians every year.

    Although arms can be inherited, they are personal; there is no such thing as a “family coat of arms”. There may be a coat of arms belonging to the head of the family which in due course will be inherited by the next head of the family, but other members of the family should use variations on those arms. The rules of heraldry prescribe standard variations which can be adopted by family members without the need for a fresh grant of arms.

    Bet that’s more than you wanted to know.

    Oh, and ecclesiastical heraldic markings are not inherited.

  2. Schütz

    Bet that’s more than you wanted to know.

    No, no, very interesting. I wondered about the situation in Australia, and you seem to have cleared it up. Perhaps there MIGHT be a benefit in being a republic after all. But are you telling me that the English College of Arms has explicitly granted the Australian Catholic Bishops the right to a coat of arms?

    Oh, and ecclesiastical heraldic markings are not inherited.

    Well, of course not, silly. That’s the tradition. Because ecclesiastics were not supposed to have any children. But since the restoration of the permanent diaconate, that’s all changed, hasn’t it? The Vatican heraldic expert on EWTN explicitly stated this exception.

  3. Peregrinus

    “But are you telling me that the English College of Arms has explicitly granted the Australian Catholic Bishops the right to a coat of arms?”

    Don’t know this for sure, but my guess is yes. When the Catholic hierarchy was re-established in England and established for the first time in various British colonies in the 19th century, they went to great pains – for obvious reasons – to avoid any action which looked like a denial of the sovereignty or authority of the crown, or an assertion of a competing papal secular sovereignty. So they would certainly have applied for a grant of arms before using them and, once the practice is established, there’s no reason for it not to continue. It is, after all, the Right Way to Do Things.

    Oh, and ecclesiastical heraldic markings are not inherited.

    Well, of course not, silly. That’s the tradition. Because ecclesiastics were not supposed to have any children.”

    Latin ecclesiastics were not supposed to have children; the same general statement could never be made about Eastern rite ecclesiastics. And, while most grants of arms would be made to bishops, who even in the East shouldn’t have children, an armigerous Eastern cleric is not an impossibility.

    Besides, the conventions of ecclesiastical heraldry don’t apply just to Catholics. There have been plenty of Anglican bishops with children. The issue may not have been a live one for Latin Catholics until quite recently, but the rule that ecclesiastical marks are not inherited was well established.

  4. Schütz

    Do they have coats of arms in the east?

    And, I don’t see why a law of the state that applies to Anglican bishops should apply to Catholic bishops – after all, do Catholic bishops have a seat in the House of Lords?

  5. Peregrinus

    There is no special rule for Anglican bishops; there’s a rule for bishops that the the heraldic marks appropriate to their office are not inherited by their heirs. This only becomes relevant if an when bishops can have legitimate children, but in principal it would always have been the rule. We can say this because the heralidic marks for ecclesiastical offices are just a special case of the heraldic marks for personal offices generally. Admirals and Field Marshalls and so forth have distinctive marks as well, and these are not inherited either. This comes back to the point that arms are bascially personal.

    (Catholic bishops did have seats in the House of Lords prior to the English reformation. What determines whether a bishop had a seat in the Lord was not whether he was in communion with Rome but whether he was, e.g., the Bishop of London, as opposed to just any old bishop. So Anglican assistant bishops and retired bishops never had seats; only designated bishops had seats and, since the completion of the English reformation, all those designated bishops have been Anglican.

  6. Peregrinus

    Oh, and, yes, they do have arms in the East , including ecclesiastical coats of arms. But the rules and conventions are not necessarily the same as in the West. While no doubt there are conventional markings for various grades of cleric, including deacons, they probably differ from western markings. Eastern deacons have, if I recall correctly, a distinctive hat, and this is probably used in coats of arms rather than the ciborium and humeral veil. And, if the diagonal stripe in your arms represents a diaconal stole (shouldn’t it go the other way, by the way?) then, again, it might not be appropriate for an Eastern deacon.

  7. Mr ‘Peregrinus’ wrote, “The right to grant arms, like the right to grant honours, decorations and titles, is a prerogative of the crown. Using or displaying arms which have not been granted by the crown is an offence […] All of the Australian colonies adopted English law, subject obviously to variation by colonial, and later state or federal, legislation. So far as I know, no state or territory has passed any legislation dealing with the grant or use of arms, so the common law position remains; devising and adopting your own arms, or using arms granted by a foreign heraldic authority, is technically an offence (“usurpation of arms”).”
    This is not an uncommon opinion, yet I cannot find it satisfying.
    In principle, within the international perspective, to adopt arms is not to grant them to oneself but just to adopt – which is not an usurpation per se if the arms are new and do not violate other armigers’ rights.
    The English tradition implies that coats of arms are to be granted by the national heraldic authority acting on the Crown of the Realm’s behalf. This, most likely, was the situation in Australia before this nation became sovereign and independent – in union with England, but not anymore a subject thereof. Since then, there is IMHO no national (‘this’ Realm’s) heraldic authority in/for Australia, and the relevant English principle just cannot be applied to the Australian reality, thus leaving the place for assumptions. Grants from Britain made since then are “demi-foreign” (not entirely foreign because the Queen in whose name these grants are made and the Queen of Australia, despite of being legally different persons, presumably act in an absolute consent and enjoying mutual approval).
    The fine point is that arms, if they are granted, are irreproachably correct – which is not neccessarily the case with the assumed coats. In your particular case I would dare to criticise the unneccessary partition “per pale” (technically creating two different coats) as well as the use of what I am inclined to see a national symbol in the second field – to bear national symbols one has to get them granted, not just assumed. This is, of course, my personal modest opinion.
    Now to the succession to arms. Arms are temporal insignia. If an armigerous clergyman has a posterity which – according to the temporal rather than canon law – is indeed his legitimate (or legitimised) posterity, then the descendants may claim his arms – the attributes of the ecclesiastical rank being, of course, excluded.
    Best regards from an Orthodox antipode 🙂

  8. P.S.
    The suggested arms with a stola-liker bend in the chief and the chalice are hardly conforming to the good old Catholic customs. Without any intention to show disrespect to Fr Pacwa, I would dare to recommend you rather learning more from the publications by Mons. Heim and by Michael McCarthy.