Origin and Heraldic reading of our coat of arms
The coat of arms of our order is composed of two parts, of which one, which of the heart ablaze, dates at least from the XVth century, if reference is made to the publication “Index of Heraldry” of Paillot, a work dating from 1660.
Very probably the complete Coat of Arms is of the period when the reform of the Congregation was affected, that is to say from the first half of the XVIIth century and should be read as follows:
QVI CORONAT TEIN MISERICORDIA
The surround does not form part of the Coat of Arms, which may be reproduced alone, with or without the olive branches, which frame it on both sides.
On the left: the olive tree bearing leaves and fruit with a background of gold.
The etymological symbolism is to be remarked. In Greek, “eleison”, which means “have mercy” has the same root as “elaion” which signifies both the olive tree and olive oil.
From the scriptural point of view, the symbolism is extremely rich.
The olive branch brought by the dove at the end of the deluge signified that God’s anger has passed.
The oil used at the consecration of priests in the Old Testament is the image of the grace of God with which they imbued, and which gives them the strength to accomplish, that which surpasses their human capacities.
Is it with oil that the Good Samaritan dresses the wounds of his injured neighbour? In this case, oil has the power of soothing pain and healing.
Oil is the outward sign of the sacrament of Confirmation by which the baptized Christian is consecrated as a soldier of Christ.
The richness of the symbolism of the oil of olives is apparent throughout the Bible and the Liturgy. It evokes the end of God’s answer, peace, healing, and strength. It nourishes and enlightens, it is used in anointing, and it is burnt to sacrifice and renders man joyful. It is a sign of gentleness and goodness, of love and mercy.
Finally, the olive tree is always green. Its branches are laden with fruit. It thus symbolizes also prosperity, fecundity and faithfulness.
As an olive tree, our Order ought to be a tree of PEACE in the midst of the CHURCH:
- Its roots are the Rule of Saint Augustine,
- Its trunk: our Constitutions,
- The sap which gives it vigour: charity,
- Its branches lifted up towards heaven represent the incessant prayer which rises from our communities,
- The olives are the balm of the Loving Mercy of the Lord which is poured out on our Brethren and on ourselves
On the right: the heart of Saint Augustine.
This is the most ancient part of the Coat of Arms. The heart figured in the Crest of the Donadieu-Picheri family whose antiquity is incontestable. No historical precisions exist to show how it came into our Order. Were there special relationships between the monastery and the family? Was it assumed through a motive of gratitude for example? All this remains in the domain of hypothesis.
Our hearts ought to be set ablaze with charity from the fire of the Holy Spirit, as was that of Saint Augustine in his ardent search for God, Who is Love and Mercy, and in the service of the Church through works of Mercy.
In the motto, the essence of our vocation, the gift of mercy received and shared, is resumed:
THE LORD… “WHO CROWNS YOU WITH STEADFAST LOVE AND MERCY”
May this olive, as a fruitful tree planted in the House of God, be fertile and become a strengthening balm, a source of peace and healing.
Just as all the fruits are transformed into unique oil, so all our hearts should become one, animated by the same Spirit and consumed in the same fire. That fire which Jesus came to bring to the earth and which set ablaze the heart of Saint Augustine.