The Coat of Arms of
His Excellency Gregory John Mansour, S.T.L.,
Third Bishop Of The Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn
Traditionally, Maronite Bishop used a gold staff topped by a globe surmounted by the Cross. More in keeping with Syriac theology, the globe and cross have been replaced with Rabbula Cross, an ancient symbol found carved in cave churches all throughout Lebanon. Rather than surmounting the world, the Rabbula Cross is infused into the world. Like a compass, it stretches out to the four corners of the globe.
From the green cedar on the eparchial side (the left side) the green mountains rise up to the heavens, as does all life itself. The mountains, like their counter symbol- the Cedar- represent the strength and vitality of our ancient Faith and Church. Lebanon is represented in the subtle reference to her flag.
Maron was the fourth century hermit/priest from whom the Maronite Church takes her name. Maron was known for his asceticism as well as his gift of spiritual counsel, healing and intercession.
Nestled along the slope of the mountains on the left, moving toward the right side of the shield, which is Bishop Gregory’s personal side, is a village of houses gathered around a church with the distinctive Maronite bell tower. This is a typical scene repeated throughout the Middle East. It is an image of “the beloved community” formed out of a common faith in Jesus Christ, and based firmly upon the strength of God’s gift of life to us as represented by the green mountains. As Christians, Bishop Gregory and his ancestors in the Middle East and America have had the privilege of living in the “beloved community.”
For Bishop Gregory, the beloved community was and still is the community of Christ, that is, the Church, with families gathered around her much like the first families that attached themselves to the monks and hermits of “Bet Maroon.”
In the lower right hand side of the shield, the “beloved community” is overshadowed and protected by the salvific love of God as visualized by the Cross of Christ towering high above the village in the sky. The golden “Tau” Cross is an icon of Jesus’ body with outstretched arms warmly embracing the community of faith below. At the same time, the tau Cross reflects our monastic origins as Maronites, as well as the Ascetical/mystical tradition so much a part of our Maronite heritage. It also pays tribute to the Father of all monks, St. Anthony of the Desert.
Maronite monks and nuns, in imitation of the desert fathers, were accustomed to leaning in a cross-like support known as a Tau Cross during their night prayer vigil. Bishop Gregory knows the power of “leaning on the Cross,” and is not afraid to take true comfort there.
Below the Cross is found a blue “M” representing Mary, the Mother of Our Lord. There she keeps vigil as Jesus sacrifices Himself in love for the world. She is also depicted above the mountains, where she is found at Harissa as Our Lady of Lebanon. The Positioning of a simple “M” below the Cross is in imitation of the coat of arms of our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, honoring the Pontiff’s profound influence in Bishop Gregory’s life, education and ministry. Finally, the sky is white, not blue, because it is filled with Christ, the Light of the World, who illuminates all things under heaven.
“No Greater Love” is taken from John’s Gospel (Jn.15:13) and expresses the depth of God’s gracious love for us in Christ Jesus. It captures the inspiration of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, which calls to each Christian, whatever his or her state in life, and asks us to join with Him in this love and ministry for others. It is written both in English and Arabic to represent the languages of the people served by Bishop Gregory; it is yet another reminder of the “beloved community” formed by our faith and His love for us, His people. The motto is left incomplete in the coat of arms, inviting the reader to revisit the Gospel and make complete the Lord’s words by living a life with of Jesus Himself.