The top portion of the shield is known properly as the chief. On Bishop Barron’s shield the chief appears like a bar of blue across the top of a fuller shield below. The charge (emblem) is a combination of the Fleur de Lys for the Blessed Virgin Mary and a pair of angel’s wings on a blue chief; blue being the color reserved for Our Lady and also the color of the Pacific Ocean that forms one of the borders of the church and region. The Fleur de Lys is rendered in silver (which is always rendered as white in heraldry as real silver tarnishes), the wings of gold. Gold and silver are the Divine Attributes, perfect and pure in every way.
Bishop Barron’s shield shape is known as the ‘heater shield’ and it is this style which the seal of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary has used from its creation. And so the shield shape in the Barron design is an homage to Mundelein.
The wavy line that separates the Our Lady of the Angels Chief and the base of his coat of arms is symbolic of the gently rolling waters of the River Seine, a reference to Paris and the Institut Catholique de Paris, where the Bishop studied for a time.
The open book is an emblem referring to Saint Thomas Aquinas, doctor of the church. This book has flames emanating from it on all sides, in a mirrored effect. The flames represent Truth as we know it from the Word of God and, by counterchanging them, symbolically reinforces the two natures of Jesus Christ—fully God and fully man. The flames are also symbolic to “Word on Fire” ministries which Bishop Barron founded. Upon this open book appears the Christological Monogram, the Chi Rho. This emblem surmounted on the open book proclaims Jesus the Christ as Lord.
The Motto is found on the banderole (motto ribbon) in four simple yet powerful words: NON NISI TE DOMINE, which translates into English as “Only You, Lord,” which was the historic response of St. Thomas Aquinas when a voice from the crucifix asked him what he wanted as a reward for his great teaching.
Surmounting the shield of bishops is the pilgrim’s hat, the heraldic emblem for all prelates and priests of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church. Behind Bishop Barron’s coat of arms is found the episcopal cross, worked in gold, and bearing a blood red capuchin ruby. This red stone is set in a gothic pattern that resembles the outline of a rose window of a great French church, mainly intended to pay homage to Bishop Barron’s devotion to Saint Thérèse.
At the base of the shield is found the staff of the episcopal cross and atop it is found the insignia of a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in the rank of knight; a rank held by Bishop Robert E. Barron at the time of his consecration.
Overall, Bishop Barron’s coat of arms has remained faithful to the style of Church heraldry originally developed in the Middle Ages.