Barry University

Barry University is one of the most respected private, Catholic universities in Florida with a long history of dedication to the education of its pupils.

Founded in 1940 by a Benedictine, the Most Reverend Patrick Barry, Bishop of St. Augustine, Florida together with his sister, the Reverend Mother M. Gerald Barry, prioress General of the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan, it has been an solid institution of learning in the state.

Not only that but, I drive by its main campus every day when commuting to work!

What is most interesting is the coat of arms of this university, mostly because it is an actual coat of arms and not a logo and because it has a story to tell.

Let’s start with the blazon: Impaled: Dexter, barry of six Gules and Argent on each bar Gules an open book Argent; Sinister, borne dimidiated, gyronny of eight Argent and Sable a cross fleury throughout counterchanged (Order of Preachers).

As the blazon implies, this is a shield marshalling (or combining) two other shields. The dexter (left) shield is based on that of its founder, Bishop Patrick Barry, using books instead of shamrocks. The books symbolize the acquisition of knowledge. The sinister shield is that of the Dominican Order with which the University is closely tied.

I should not here that my blazon differs slightly from that registered with the US Heraldic Registry in that I do not use the qualifier “entire” for the dexter arms.


Above you see the arms alone used by the university that were inspired by Bishop Barry’s.

Above you can see the Barry family arms on their own, as borne by the Bishop’s family.


Again the Barry arms impaled with the arms of the Diocese of St. Augustine, FL of which Patrick Barry was Bishop. The dexter arms are those of the Diocese, of course.


These arms are those of the Dominican Order or, officially, the Order of Preachers. The Gyronny Cross Flory symbolizes the veneration of the Virgin (the cross flory) and the Dominican habit: a long white tunic, contrasting with a black cloak, cappa (shoulder cape) and/or scapular. The black and white representing truth over heresy or good over evil. The cross alone is also known as the “Dominican Cross”.

Do you notice a difference between these arms and those on the sinister side of the University arms? The order of tinctures on the University arms are reversed!


Speaking of the Dominicans, you can find two different shields used by the Order. One (and the more famous) is the one with the cross flory depicted further up. The other, the one depicted just over these lines, is the one you tend to see more often these days and what is found on the official website of the Order. The blazon for this, simpler, shield is: Sable a pile reversed throughout Argent.

There are two things that strike me as odd in the arms of Barry University:

  1. The Dominican arms that are dimidiated on the sinister side are wrong (reversed tinctures).
  2. The Barry inspired arms are placed in the position of honor while one would expect the Order’s shield to be there. Apparently, this was a conscious decision by the leadership of the University at some point in its history. Originally, the order was reversed.
  3. The dexter arms are shown in their entirety whereas the arms of the Order of Preachers is dimidiated. Usually, as can be seen in the Bishop’s arms above, when arms are marshalled via impaling they are both squeezed in their entirety into their respective portions.


Related links:


(note: all images created by me with clipart from Wikipedia)


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