The Diocese of Clogher has today released the Episcopal Crest and Episcopal Motto of its new bishop, Monsignor Larry Duffy, who will be ordained on Sunday next in St Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan.
Following a custom dating from the mid-twelfth century, most bishops adopt a crest or coat-of-arms. The bishop chooses elements that hold personal meaning for him in relation to his ministry, and these are combined in a display on a shield. Heraldic tradition places a stylised hat called a galero above the shield, shown in green, with six tassels on either side, and behind the shield a processional cross.
Bishop-elect Duffy’s crest has three sections and three background colours. The white and black are a reference to his native parish of Magheracloone while the blue denotes his association with and love of his native Monaghan.
The Masai shield and the two crossed spears feature on the national flag of Kenya, and represent Bishop-elect Larry’s strong links with the Diocese of Kitui where he ministered for several years as part of the Diocese of Clogher missionary outreach there. He still visits Kitui often and we are honoured to welcome a number of Kitui visitors today as they join us for his episcopal ordination.
The rowan berries and leaves are a tribute to St Macartan, the first Bishop of Clogher. Before his conversion to Christianity by St Patrick, Macartan was known as Aidis or Aedh, the son of Caerthen (son of the Rowan Tree). The three leaves also recall our baptismal profession of faith in the name of the Blessed Trinity.
The bottom part of the shield shows an image of three stained-glass windows. These refer to St Joseph’s Church in Carrickmacross where Bishop-elect Larry was Parish Priest, 2013-2019. The renowned stained-glass artist Harry Clarke was commissioned in 1924 to design and create a two-light window for the church in tribute to St Ceara. This was followed by a further series of windows by the Harry Clarke Studios. The windows represent the beauty of God’s light, shining through the saints.
The bishop’s chosen motto is displayed below the shield. As his motto Bishop-elect Duffy has chosen “God is Love”. This is taken from the First Letter of St John (I John 4:16), which reads:
God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God,
and God abides in him.
These words – God is Love – express the heart of our Christian faith. They joyfully proclaim the Christian image of God: a loving God, active in our world. Love is the fundamental dimension of our relationship with God and of our lives as Christians.
God’s love gives us life and sustains us. It is present in our lives in the person of Jesus Christ – ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should… have eternal life’ (John 3:16).
Love is God’s gift to us. Our love for God and for each other is our response to that gift. That response finds its expression in our compassion and in our readiness to give of ourselves in service to others.
It is this same love which enables us to proclaim the Gospel with joy by our witness to Christ in our Church communities and in the world. Love draws us into communion with God and, through God, into communion with one another.