Impaled Arms: On the dexter for the Archdiocese of Washington: Quarterly Azure and Gules, a cross botonny throughout quarterly Or and Argent between in the first quarter a crescent Argent, in the second quarter in chief three mullets of six points Argent, in the third quarter in chief three mullets of five points Argent, and in the fourth quarter a man’s face bearing two angels’ wings Argent. On the sinister for Cardinal McCarrick: Gules, on a cross nowy throughout Or, a crown Argent, between in the first quarter a rock Argent, in the second quarter a lion rampant Or, in the third quarter issuing from the dexter chief a sun rayonné Or, and in the fourth quarter three ermine spots, one over two Argent.
The dexter impalement, on the left of the viewer, displays the Arms of the Archdiocese of Washington. The Arms of the Archdiocese consist of a quartered shield blue and red, charged with a cross botonny—each limb ending in three knobs—and quartered gold (yellow) and silver (white). This symbolizes, together with the colors, the presence of the Catholic Church in the District of Columbia and the counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles in the State of Maryland.
In the first quarter (blue) is a silver (white) crescent, a traditional symbol of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, is patroness of the United States. The “chief,” or upper portion, of the second quarter (red) displays three silver (white) stars of six points from the Arms of Pope Pius VI (1775-1799) reigning at the time of the Declaration of Independence. In the “chief,” or upper portion, of the third quarter (red) are three silver (white) stars of five points adapted from the Arms of George Washington. The fourth quarter (blue) is charged with a man’s face between two angels’ wings tinctured silver (white), an ancient symbol of Saint Matthew, the Evangelist, patron of the Cathedral.
The sinister impalement, on the right of the viewer, displays the Arms of Cardinal McCarrick. On the red field is displayed a gold (yellow) cross “nowy” (a circle at the intersection of the limbs) honoring Terence Cardinal Cooke, Archbishop of New York, under whom Cardinal McCarrick served as an auxiliary bishop. The silver (white) crown at the center of the cross honors the Queenship of Mary on whose feast day Cardinal McCarrick was ordained a priest.
In the first quarter is a silver (white) rock recalling the words of Christ to Peter, “upon this rock I will build by church” (Matthew 16:8), and it was on the feast of Saint Peter (June 29) that the Cardinal received episcopal ordination. The rock is the Gaelic root of the surname McCarrick and complements the gold (yellow) lion in the second quarter, honoring the Cardinal’s mother, who was a McLaughlin.
Issuing from the top left of the third quarter is a sunburst commemorating the early years of the Cardinal’s priesthood in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. In the fourth quarter three silver (white) ermine spots have been adapted from the Arms of Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York, who ordained Cardinal McCarrick priest, May 31, 1958.
The motto “Come Lord Jesus” is part of the conclusion of the Book of Revelation 22:20, and reminds us that only through Jesus coming into our lives are we able to do good.
In pale behind the Arms is placed a gold archiepiscopal cross with double traverse, and ensigning the whole achievement is a cardinal’s hat with fifteen tassels on each side disposed in five rows, all red. These are the heraldic insignia of a cardinal archbishop in accordance with the Instruction of the Holy See, dated March 31, 1969. Before 1870 the cardinal’s hat was worn at solemn cavalcades held in conjunction with papal ceremonies. The colors of the pontifical hat and the number of tassels were signs of the rank of a prelate, a custom still preserved in ecclesiastical heraldry.
The personal Arms of Cardinal McCarrick were devised May 1977, by William F.J. Ryan (1903-1981). The Arms of the Archdiocese of Washington were devised December 1947 by William F.J. Ryan, and slightly modified September 6, 2001 by the Cardinal Archbishop in concert with the College of Consultors. The modification consists of the substitution of a cross botonny quarterly gold and silver (for the five counties of Maryland) from the original cross of silver chain links. The emblazonment of the Arms subsequent to the modification of September 6, 2001, was undertaken by A.W.C. Phelps, Cleveland, Ohio, and completed on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2002.