The five red crosses are known as the Jerusalem Cross and represent the five wounds of Christ's passion: his side and his hands and feet. Additionally, the large center cross represents Jesus and the four smaller crosses represent the four Gospel writers. The four smaller crosses also represent the four corners of the earth to which the Gospel is being taken and for which Our Lord died.
This signifies the central mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It also reminds us that we are all pilgrims on our way to the new and heavenly Jerusalem. The green field represents life. We attain eternal life by "listening to the Word of God and keeping it" (Luke 11:27) as Jesus said in praise of Mary.
The upper section contains the colors red, white and green which are the colors of the Italian flag and of the bishop's Italian heritage and that of his parents, Pio and Eva. Separating the top from the bottom is a white wavy bar taken from the six wavy bars on the Newark Archdiocesan arms, which represent the six rivers that are within the territorial limits of the Archdiocese from which the bishop comes to Paterson.
The bottom section honors both Pope John Paul II and his Eminence, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, with whom Bishop Serratelli served as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark. The blue field and the gold letter "M" are taken from the coat of arms of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, which he has used since his consecration as a bishop on Sept. 28, 1958. The crown is taken from the coat of arms of Cardinal McCarrick who was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, May 31, 1958.
The bottom section, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, also has special significance for Bishop Serratelli. He was baptized and grew up in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Newark. He attended Immaculate Conception Seminary of the Newark Archdiocese and the North American College in Rome, both under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception, the Patroness of the United States of America. At the time of his being named a bishop, he served as Rector of the College Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, also called St. Andrew's Hall. Lastly Bishop Serratelli received the fullness of Holy Orders, the Episcopacy, on Sept. 8, 2000, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Together, the shield helps us to call to mind that the mission of Bishop Serratelli, both as a priest and bishop, is to teach the Word of God, who came to us through Mary. The scroll, bearing the new bishop's motto, is placed below the shield. Bishop Serratelli has selected the Latin phrase Vivere Christus Est, "To live is Christ," taken from St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians, 1:21, which reads, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
The entire achievement is completed by the addition of a gold processional cross which extends above and below the shield and the green ecclesiastical hat, the galero, with six tassels in three rows on either side of the shield. These are the heraldic insignia of a bishop according to the Instruction of the Holy See given on March 31, 1969.
The dexter impalement, on the left of the viewer, is given in ecclesiastical heraldry to arms of jurisdiction; in this instance, the coat of arms of the Diocese of Paterson.
- Prepared by Rev. Matthew R. Mauriello, Bridgeport, Conn