Bishop Edward M. Lohse’s Coat of Arms

By heraldic tradition, the arms of the bishop of a diocese are joined to the arms of his jurisdiction, in this case the Diocese of Kalamazoo.

The coat of arms of Bishop Edward M. Lohse combines the coat of arms of the Diocese of Kalamazoo with his personal coat of arms using traditional elements. The cleric’s hat, called a “galero”, in bright green designates one who is ordained to the episcopate, and three tassels indicate the rank of bishop.

The Diocese of Kalamazoo (left-hand side):

The red of the background field is the color associated with the Holy Spirit and with theology, in recognition of Saint Augustine’s immense contribution as one of the four great Latin doctors of the Church.

The silver (white) wavy bend which divides the red field represents water with blue annulets representing bubbles. This symbolism is used to represent the English equivalent of the Native American name of “Kalamazoo” which means “boiling pot” describing the bubbles in the Kalamazoo River.

In the lower field is a silver peace pipe, decorated with gold feathers, which was called a “calumet” by the French explorers who came to the region. This symbol of lasting and enduring peace is an object of profound veneration in the Native American culture, and here it also represents Christ who is the fulness of peace for those who believe in him as the Redeemer of the World.

The open book in the upper field displays the words “Tolle Lege” in honor of Saint Augustine of Hippo, patron saint of the Diocese of Kalamazoo and of its cathedral. In his Confessions, Saint Augustine writes that the key moment in his conversion occurred when, as he was meditating on the scriptures under a tree, longing for a spiritual peace which eluded him and unable to free himself from sin, he heard a little child say, “Take, read” (“Tolle, lege”). Then opening the scriptures to Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans, Saint Augustine was moved by the words he read there: “Let us live honorably as in daylight … put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for desires of the flesh” (Rom. 13:13-14). Considering that he had heard the voice of God, Saint Augustine was filled with peace and was baptized shortly thereafter, to the immense joy of his mother Saint Monica. He eventually became the Bishop of Hippo in North Africa.

Bishop Edward M. Lohse (right-hand side):

Bishop Edward M. Lohse’s personal arms feature three distinct bands. The top band is adapted from the heraldic shield of Saint Edward the Confessor which features a gold cross on a blue field. It is present here in honor of Bishop Lohse’s patron saint.

The middle section in silver topped with a wavy blue line (representing the shoreline of Lake Erie) is derived from the coat of arms of the Diocese of Erie, where Bishop Lohse was born and raised, was ordained, and where he served for the majority of his priesthood. The two round emblems on the silver field honor the two great spiritual and academic traditions in which Bishop Lohse was formed and which have left a lasting impression upon him: The encircled IHS (the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek) with three nails is taken from the symbol for the Jesuit Order, and the encircled cross with the letters C, S, P, and B (Latin abbreviation for “The Cross of Our Holy Father Benedict”) is adapted from the medal of Saint Benedict symbolizing the Benedictine Order.

The bottom third of the arms features the blue and white diamond shapes which come from the flag of Bavaria. They are intended here to represent family and faith, in that the Lohse family’s Catholic foundations all come through Bavaria.

Bishop Lohse has chosen as his episcopal motto, “Illum oportet crescere” from John 3:30. Translated as “He must increase,” they are the words of Saint John the Baptist who, in speaking to his own disciples about the Lord, instructed them to follow Christ.