Posts tagged ‘rome heraldry’

Heraldry of Rome – Part II


In this second part in the series on the heraldry I ran into during my recent brief visit to Rome (and for the next few), I’ll focus on ecclesiastical arms.

As the capital of the Papal States and the location of the Holy See (in the Vatican), Rome is full of churches. Naturally, they are almost all of them Roman Catholic.

As is customary, the churches display coats of arms that are significant to them. In the case of the Catholic churches, they display the arms of the current Pontiff and those of the bishop of the parish. Interestingly, in Rome, every church acts as its own seat and the arms displayed outside are those of the Pope and of a Cardinal.


The picture above is of the entrance to the impressive Santissima Trinità al Monte Pincio (a.k.a Trinità dei Monti), the church above the Spanish Steps.


As you can see, the church is displaying two coats of arms in the entrance. The one on the left is that of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.


The one on the right is that of Cardinal Philippe Xavier Christian Ignace Marie Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon in France and Cardinal Priest of this church.

This church is most impressive and dominates the scene of the Spanish Steps or Piazza di Spagne.


Although the steps and plaza are “Spanish”, the church was built with French funds when in 1502 King Louis XII wanted to celebrate his successful campaign against Naples and chose this site, right next to a pre-existing monastery built the previous decade. The “Spanish” name comes from the fact that the Spanish embassy was and still is located there.


Continuing the French tradition the church was entrusted in 1828 to the French religious order “Religieuses du Sacré-Coeur de Jésus”. In 2006, another French order took over and made the church its headquarters, the “Fraternités Monastiques de Jérusalem”.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to identify the arms in the windows posted above.  If anyone recognizes them, please contact me and I will make the appropriate edit and give the proper recognition.

Heraldry of Rome – Part I

COA Rome

I recently had the pleasure to visit Rome, Italy for a couple of days. What an amazing experience! The beauty of the city is unparalleled and I highly recommend everyone visits.

More appropriate to the subject of this blog, Rome is practically swimming in heraldry! It’s everywhere you look. In every street, you will run into a coat of arms adorning a church or a secular building. It’s a thing of beauty!

Inspired by my short stay in Rome, a series of posts will be published showing the arms I encountered just walking the streets. Note that I did not go out looking for heraldry, I just ran into it!

As this is the first of a series of posts on the heraldry I ran into during my very short visit I will start with a brief history of the arms of the Eternal City itself.


(image originally from released under GNU to Wikipedia)

The blazon of the arms is: Gules in bend a cross and the letters S P Q R Or

For a city with an outstanding heraldic history and an immense heraldic wealth, we run into a case where the city’s arms are, in my personal opinion, ugly. I have never been a fan of writing/letters in arms and this example doesn’t change my mind.

Having said that, I fully understand the history and meaning of the arms. I also have complete respect for the story behind them. However, I think it would’ve been better if the design did not have any writing on it.

But, as the Romans say: suum cuique

SPQR stands for “Senatus Populusque Romanus” or, in English, “The Senate and the People of Rome”. Though it is not certain when was the first appearance of this phrase, it is found mostly during the Roman Republic period that began in the 5th century BC.

As expected of any city’s insignia, the Roman Coat of Arms can be found everywhere. From fountains to manhole covers to water drains, the simple shield can be seen anywhere.

Interestingly, the initials SPQR are found on other arms as well. A prime example is the northern Italian city of Reggio Emilia whose arms are displayed below:


(image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The blazon of these arms is: Argent a cross between the letters S P Q R Gules

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