The Coat of Arms of Bishop Norbert M. Dorsey, C.P.


Since the Middle Ages, bishops have been accorded the privilege of displaying a personal crest as a sign of their authority.



The coat of arms of Bishop Norbert Dorsey is impaled, that is, it is a combination of the shield of the Diocese of Orlando and that of Bishop Dorsey.  As a viewer looks at it, the left side is that of the Diocese and the right is personal to the bishop.

On the left side, for the Diocese of Orlando, the main colors of red and gold recall the colors of the flag of Spain, for it was missionaries from that country who first brought the Gospel to Florida.  The Chi-Rho (X-P) is taken from the two first letters of the Greek for Christ, the Son of God and the center of all Christian faith.  The golden shell is a traditional symbol for the Apostle St. James the Greater, patron of the Cathedral.  The orange blossom indicates that the nine counties of the diocese are centered in Orange County.

In the upper portion or “chief” of the diocesan arms is a blue fleur-de-lis on a background of white or silver.  This is in deference to the Mother of God, the patroness of the diocese.

On the right side, the personal arms of Bishop Dorsey the main colors are blue and gold.  These are taken from the Arms of our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, who nominated the bishop to serve as Auxiliary Bishop in Miami and now as the Ordinary of Orlando.  Blue and gold were also the main colors in the Arms of the Archdiocese of Miami.

As is customary in the case of the priest-religious who is made a bishop, a place of honor in the shield is given to the symbol of his Congregation.  Here, it is a stylized version of the familiar Passionist “sign” or badge, a heart surmounted by the Cross and the nails of the crucifixion.  This indicates the fourth vow of the Passionists to keep in mind the love of God as shown for us in the dying of Jesus.  The “sign” is within a branch of olive tree and palm, signifying that the Way of the Cross is the way to glory.

The lower section, on a field of blue, contains two “roundles” with wavy lines of silver and red, signifying water.  (Usually of blue and silver, red is used here because of the blue background.)  In heraldic terms, this is a way of denoting a field of springs of water, and these are taken from the Arms of the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, were Bishop Norbert was born and baptized as Leonard James Dorsey.

This section also contains a third silver circle, in deference to Archbishop Edward McCarthy who ordained Bishop Dorsey to the episcopacy and who also has such a “roundel” in his arms.  Here, however, the ornament is a single shamrock, alluding to the Irish ancestry of Bishop Dorsey’s family.

The motto endeavors to capture the personal ideal or theme of the bishop’s ministry.  Bishop Dorsey has chosen some words of St. Paul of the Cross from the Passionist Rule to express that ideal, “Love is ingenious.”  The full text reads:  “For the love of God is very ingenious, and is proved not so much by words as by the deeds and examples of the lovers.”

The external decorations are composed of the ancient bishop’s hat with its six tassels on each side and, behind, an episcopal cross.