The Cross, the Star, and Silver Roses
Established by Pope Pius IX in 1847, the Diocese of Galveston was built upon the back of many a swift horse as Jean Marie Odin, its first bishop, and his band of circuit riding priests crisscrossed an area encompassing present-day Texas and parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming in their efforts to serve the spiritual and material needs of a widely-scattered Catholic population. At the time of the diocese’s founding, St. Mary’s Church in Galveston was designated the cathedral of the see city, and since then the Blessed Virgin Mary has been the patroness of the local Church under the title of the Immaculate Conception.
By the 1950s, Houston had become the center of civil and ecclesial life in the diocese, and then-Bishop Wendelin J. Nold, with the approval of the Holy See, changed the diocese’s name to Galveston-Houston. Owing to the tremendous growth of the Catholic population in Galveston-Houston, Pope John Paul II re-designated the local Church as an archdiocese in 2004.
The Blessed Mother’s patronage of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston is conveyed through the archdiocesan coat of arms, which is depicted in the stained glass window that illuminates the staircase to the choir loft in the Chapel at St. Mary’s Seminary. The coat of arms contains a field of blue upon which are scattered silver roses. The field of blue recalls the Blessed Virgin Mary and the sea that surrounds Galveston Island, while the silver roses pay tribute to Mary’s purity as the Mystical Rose.
Charged over the field and roses is a red cross representing the gift of eternal life that flows from the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. At the center of this cross is a square upon which is fixed a single star, a reminder that Galveston-Houston is the Mother Church of Texas, the Lone Star State. The star also helps us to recall that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Star of the Sea, and the Morning Star from which dawns the long awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Since the cross figures prominently in the archdiocesan coat of arms, it was providential that upon assuming governance of the Archdiocese in 2006, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo retained the motto of his episcopal arms: Ave Crux Spes Unica, which is Latin for Hail the Cross, Our only Hope. The cross, the star, and silver roses speak not only of the history of this local Church, but of our pilgrim journey toward everlasting union with Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary.
Written by Rev. Mr. Matthew G. Suniga, MLA