The Crest of the Diocese of St. Catharines
When the new Diocese of St. Catharines was established in 1958 it followed church custom in having a heraldic crest designed for itself. This crest consisted basically of the Bishop’s mitre and the broken Catherine Wheel superimposed upon the Welland Canal. In planning for the 25th anniversary of the Diocese in 1983 it was decided to design a second diocesan crest which would incorporate still more of the theological historical and geographical features of the Diocese.
The components of the new crest are: The crest is divided into left and right halves from top to bottom by the Welland Canal – portrayed in the crest by six links going from right to left back and forth three times. The crest is divided into a top and bottom half by two wavy lines representing the two major rivers in the St. Catharines Diocese – the Grand River to the left and the Welland River to the right.
In the top left-hand corner is the cross representing the arrival of Christianity from the north-west via the shores of Lake Ontario through the efforts of the French and Irish missionaries. The cross is a Celtic Cross – for the Irish with Fleur-de-Lys at its points – for the French. The blue background represents the official national colours of both Ireland and France.
In the top right-hand corner is the wheel of torture upon which St. Catherine patron of the Diocese was tortured. The broken part of the wheel i.e. the Catherine Wheel symbolizes the power of God over that of man since it broke when St. Catherine was stretched upon it. The red background here and below at bottom left represents the need for sacrifice in the shedding of blood.
In the bottom left-hand corner is a cluster of grapes symbolic of Christ’s shedding His Most Precious Blood for our Salvation. It is a particularly appropriate symbol in view of the special renown for the growing of grapes which the Niagara Peninsula and hence the Diocese of St. Catharines enjoys.
In the bottom right-hand corner is the dove with an olive branch – the traditional religious symbol for peace. This symbolism has been chosen in recognition of the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace at Niagara Falls – which was dedicated over a century ago in 1861 by Bishop Lynch of Toronto.
It symbolizes the desire for peace with our neighbours in the United States of America and also within our own local Niagara Peninsula community an area of Canada which has had more than its share of battles over the centuries.
The blue background represents the sky and the rest and peace that only Heaven can give.
Thus the new crest of St. Catharines Diocese incorporates some of the most notable historical events and theological features of the area. It should serve as a constant reminder to each generation of what has gone before and what the future should be. It is not intended to be an heraldic mystery but a herald of the Good News which can only be found in the unravelling of the mystery which is the Christian life – lived in Christ.