Back in July of 2006, in the journal of the American College of Heraldry “The Armiger’s News”, the late Dr. David Pittman Johnson wrote a very good article trying to codify the system of ecclesiastial heraldry of the (Eastern) Orthodox Church.
As opposed to the Roman Catholic Church that has many established rules regarding its heraldry, the Orthodox Communion does not, mainly due to its decentralized structure.
Among the difficulties of this attempt is the fact that (1) heraldry is not very common in the East and in particular among the Orthodox clergy (at any level) and (2) each Orthodox Church is independent of each other and has its own particular rules and traditions within its hierarchy.
A good introduction on the organization Orthodox Church can be found, where else, on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodox_Church_organization
I won’t reproduce the text here but will urge anyone with an interest in ecclesiastical heraldry and particularly Orthodox heraldry to read this very well written article.
At this point, I want to make a note to say that the rules presented not only may apply to the Orthodox Communion but also those classified as “Eastern” or “Greek” Catholic.
I feel it necessary to say that what Dr. Johnson describes are not the rules of heraldry within the Orthodox Communion but rather a combination of observations and suggestions. Until such time as there are rules established by the Head of a particular Orthodox Church, every member of the clergy is pretty much free to do as he pleases. It is though recommended to try to create some standards and Dr. Johnson has provided us with an excellent foundation to do so.
The arms at the top of this post are those of the Rev. Fr. Deacon Nenad Jovanovich, head of the Board for Heraldic & Genealogical Studies at the Center for Research of Orthodox Monarchy (CROM-BHGS). These arms were emblazoned by the talented new heraldic artist Terry Sarros (who is also an associate and artist of the CROM-BHGS) following the basic principle of the rules described in the cited article but with a variation more appropriate for Serbia.
It should be noted that the CROM-BHGS, under the leadership of the Rev. Fr. Deacon, has done much excellent work in the creation and promotion of heraldry within the Orthodox ecclesiastical community worldwide. A small sample of the work this group has done can be seen in their online gallery of ecclesiastical heraldry at this link: http://www.czipm.org/galerija-heraldika02-02.html
The article in question can be found at this link:
and reprinted at the CROM-BHGS: http://www.czipm.org/dpj.html
Note: The image above was used with the approval of the Rev. Fr. Deacon Nenad Jovanovich and the artist Mr. Terry Sarros.
Note: I too am an associate of the CROM-BHGS.