Human language is rich and diverse involving the use of words and symbols. Symbols are particularly rich because embedded in a simple symbol is a world of values, history and meaning. The simple image of the sheep on the shoulder of a man speaks eloquently of the love and care of the shepherd. Symbols and images are therefore used to transmit messages. Sometimes they express a theme dear to the owner or act as guiding principle. A coat of arms then is a rich collage of symbols. Typically coat of arms include certain objects, images, colours and words that have been brought together aesthetically to form a coat arm or a logo.
This practice is found in the Catholic tradition where Popes, Cardinals and Archbishops and bishops have their coat of arms which signify the core values of their ministry or their mission and vision.
Following this time honoured tradition, Bishop Abegunrin had his coats of arms designed to showcase his belief and focus and some of the riches of his background. He has chosen to retain elements of this coats of arms as bishop. Or course, as an Archbishop, something is always added. So while his coat of arms is largely the same, it is also a new one as the following explanation will show.
The hat is still the same; Green in colour – this symbolizes the honour and responsibility of the office.
The Cross beneath the hat is the primordial symbol of Christianity, the cross of Jesus. It is a rich symbol that captures for us the suffering and death of Christ, which in essence is the price of love paid by Jesus for the salvation of mankind. Beneath the cross is the cocoa pod. This is divided into three sections. The left hand side contains the cocoa pod with its leaves and a cutlass. Cocoa is a cash crop in Yoruba land and farming is the traditional profession. The right side contains a book with two Greek alphabets for God, the Alpha and Omega, thereby showing the book to be the Bible and on top of it is a flame in red colour which is one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit. Taken together, we can visualize the prelate’s love for the Word of God and his reliance on the Holy Spirit who inspires and enlightens all people.
Beneath the two partitions is a river in blue colour with green vegetation’s on the side of the river. This rich image reminds us of waters of baptism that cleanses us of our sins. But it also reminds us of the water of life that the book of Ezekiel talks about, wherever it flows, new life springs up in abundance (Ezekiel 47:12). It also symbolizes the richness of our land for farming.
Beneath the shield is the motto of the Archbishop which is written in both Latin and Yoruba: Caritas Vincit Omnia – that is love conquers all things. Ife b’ori ohun gbogbo. This is written on a golden band.
Now, here is the difference, a bishop’s coat of arms has only twelve (12) tassels, six (6) on each side, that of an Archbishop has twenty (20) ten (10) on each side.