The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta  

Bishop Hyland's Coat of Arms

The impalement of the personal Arms of Bishop Hyland with those of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, along with its description, was done by William F. J. Ryan. Ryan created the Arms of the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1956.

The entire "achievement," or coat of arms as it is generally called, is composed of the shield with its charges, the motto and the external ornaments. As one looks at the shield the terms dexter (right) and sinister (left) must be understood contrariwise, as the shield was worn on the arm in medieval days and these terms were used in the relationship of the one bearing the shield.

The dexter impalement is given in ecclesiastical heraldry to the arms of jurisdiction; in this instance, the arms of the Diocese of Atlanta.

Atlanta known as the "Crossroads of the South," because of converging railroads which gave the city its early prominence, received its name as the eastern terminus of the Western and Atlantic Railroad which connected north Georgia with the Tennessee River. Originally called Whitehall, then Terminus, and afterwards in 1843 Marthasville, the state legislature finally acquiesced to the wishes of the railroad and accepted the name of Atlanta in 1847, thus naming the city indirectly after the Atlantic Ocean.

The Atlantic Ocean is represented on the shield of the diocese by white and blue wavy bars, the heraldic equivalent of the waves of the sea; seven bars in number to symbolize the Seven Sacraments.

The crown of Christ the King denotes the title of the cathedral church, the Eternal King whose redeeming Sacrifice on the Cross is renewed daily in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Above the crown is placed the Cherokee rose, the State flower of Georgia (Rosa Laevigata), as befits a diocese located in the Capital City. The Cherokee rose is a white flower with a yellow center.

The crown of Christ the King, in the arms of the Diocese of Atlanta, also has the secondary representation of the crown of King George II of England after whom Georgia was named. The blue and white wavy bands may be said as well to symbolize the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge country; but, more important, these are the colors of our Blessed Mother.

The sinister impalement, on the right of the viewer, bears the personal arms of Bishop Hyland.

The coat of arms is based on "faolan," the Gaelic derivation of Hyland. "Faolan" is the diminutive of "faol" which means "wolf." The name was common in the sixteenth century in Offaly and Leix, whence it spread into other parts of Ireland. Hyland is the usual form of the name in Leinster.

Consequently, a wolf's head erased (torn) is placed in the pronominal or paternal quarters, the first and the fourth. In these quarters there is also a reference to "McCarron," the maiden name of Bishop Hyland's mother. McCarron is derived from the Gaelic root "Ciar" meaning black, and the bishop has so tinctured there quarters to commemorate his mother on his episcopal escutcheon.

The silver cross and the two fleurs-de-lis have been abstracted from the second and third quarters of the coat of arms of Saint Francis de Sales to honor Bishop Hyland's baptismal patron. The fleurs-de-lis are golden on the arms of Saint Francis, but they have been changed to silver in order that the colors of the Blessed Virgin Mary, blue and white (silver) might be displayed and that this distinction might constitute a brisure to make these Hyland arms particularly those of the bishop.

The motto "Ad Jesum Per Mariam," is translated "To Jesus through Mary."

The external ornaments are composed of the green pontifical hat with its six like-tinctured tassels on each side disposed in three rows, the mitre, the processional cross and the crosier, the latter in gold.

Prior to 1870, the pontifical hat was worn in solemn conclaves held in conjunction with papal functions. The color of the pontifical hat and the number and color of the tassels were signs of the rank of a prelate, a custom which is still preserved in ecclesiastical heraldry.