Commentary by the Very Reverend Michael M. Walters, J.C.L., V.F.
Art Work by Sister Gerarda Panek, O.P.
The shield bearing the personal arms of Bishop Paul R. Sanchez has been designed to reflect his personal history and ministry. The principal colors are green and blue recalling the Irish and Scottish parts of the bishop’s ancestry. That ancestry is further complimented by a silver (white) saltire (X-shaped) cross which is the symbol of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland who, tradition tells us, was crucified on a cross of this type.
At the top of the shield are two crossed swords over a book, the symbol of the bishop’s patron saint. As a Roman citizen, St. Paul could not be crucified. Instead, he suffered martyrdom by being beheaded. The sword, the instrument of his death, reflects the ancient tradition of using the means of martyrdom to identify the martyr. The open book represents St. Paul’s writings, the oldest texts of the New Testament, in which he expounds on the mission and meaning of the Lord Jesus and the responsibilities of discipleship.
In the base of the shield is a scallop shell, the symbol of St. James, the patron saint of the Diocese of Brooklyn. The scallop shell has long been associated with St. James as a badge for pilgrims to his shrine at Campostella in Spain, which is also a country of the Bishop’s paternal ancestors. A legend tells that when the body of St. James was being transported by sea, the ship was beset by heavy weather, and the body was swept overboard. It washed up on shore covered in scallops.
The conjuction of these two saints says something about Bishop Sanchez’s mission as a bishop; he is called to spread the Gospel without fear as he walks the pilgrim journey with the Church. On the right and left sides of the shield are two supports for the bishop’s episcopal ministry: the Host and Chalice of the Holy Eucharist and the monogram of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of Priests.
Strengthened by the Eucharist and supported by the example and prayers of the Blessed Mother, the bishop bears on his shield, a knight’s protection in battle, the devotions that give him strength and courage in the battle against evil as he strives to proclaim the Gospel.
The achievement is completed by placing a scroll bearing the new bishop’s motto beneath the shield. Bishop Sanchez has chosen “God’s Grace Is Sufficient” as his motto. The words recall the Lord’s words to St. Paul that His grace is sufficient to overcome any temptation or hardship for power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12; 9).