The shield is black which represents the finiteness of the created universe, from the dark soil of the earth to the vast reaches of outer space. It is the mystery and mortality that confronts every one of us in our life as humans.
A gold Cross saltire (or X-shaped Cross) cuts across the dark shield as it does the life of every Christian. The death and resurrection of Christ is the central saving event of human history and brings the life, glory, and salvation of God to us. The saltire shape of the Cross (as opposed to the Latin Cross upon which Christ died) shows that Christ’s Cross takes its own particular form in the life of each disciple.
Bishop Hero’s patron Saints, St. Stephen of Hungary and St. Andrew the Apostle, are both recalled by this Cross saltire. The Cross atop the famous crown of St. Stephen, with rounded spheres at the end of each arm, today still tilts to the side after the king’s fall from his horse in battle. The saltire Cross is more typically linked to St. Andrew, the apostle who was ‘first called’ by the Lord (Jn 1:40), and who, after preaching God’s Word faithfully, was martyred on a Cross of this shape.
The two turtledoves in the right and left quadrants of the shield refer to St. Joseph who made this offering of the poor in the temple at Jerusalem forty days after the birth of Jesus (Lk 2:24). The use of silver or white for the doves represents Joseph’s purity of faith, spiritual poverty, and loving obedience to God in this sacrifice as in his whole life. The doves also face inward toward the Cross. It is the loving sacrifice of Christ that fulfills every other. Disciples will find strength and meaning to carry their own Cross only by looking to Christ’s. The reference to St. Joseph on the shield also recalls that Bishop Hero was born in the ‘shadow’ of St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montréal and spent sixteen years of his priesthood (nine years as Rector) at St. Joseph Seminary in Edmonton.
The upper and lower quadrants of the shield hold a total of twelve stars which evoke the figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her assumption into heaven. The Church’s Tradition identifies Our Lady as the woman with “a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1) and she is an image of the Church already in heaven. Mary is the perfect disciple of Christ and the mother of every Christian (Jn 19:27). After consenting to and participating in the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation and Cross, Our Lady shares now in his glory in heaven to which we are also called. This field of gold stars on the shield shows the glory of God shining through every apparent darkness, the promise and hope of resurrection after earthly life.
St. Louis Marie de Montfort popularized a prayer called the ‘Little Crown of Our Lady,’ which consists mostly in offering twelve Hail Maries as a simple tribute of love to our Blessed Mother. The twelve stars on the shield can be taken also for these twelve Hail Maries of the Little Crown. Bishop Hero tries to practice this going ‘to Jesus through Mary’ in his own life. Praying to and with Mary is the shield of every Christian.
Finally, the use of the metals gold and silver on the black shield to represent Christ and His Saints indicates that the glory of God and the life of grace are the only true riches of Christians. In the words of St. Peter: “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” (Acts 3:6)
Description of the Bishop’s Motto
Bishop Hero has selected for his episcopal motto the Latin words:
Deus Solus or God Alone
This was the favourite saying of St. Louis Marie de Montfort, who appended it to most of his writings, and it also resembles the solo Dios basta (God alone suffices) of St. Teresa of Avila, the great Carmelite teacher of prayer.
Bishop Hero has taken it specifically from the Vulgate version of Ps 85:10: “For you are great and do wondrous things; you are God alone” (NRSV Ps 86:10). It is the cry of faith that God must be at the center of our life in order to love ourselves, our neighbour, and the good things of the earth rightly, that is, in God. The perennial human temptation is to make ourself, something or someone else into a sort of false god.