In honor of our bicentennial, a new parish shield or what is formally called the heraldic achievement was commissioned. Our new shield was designed by Matthew Alderman, who has designed shields for bishops, dioceses, religious communities, as well as parishes. The tradition of individuals and communities creating a shield goes back to the middle ages. A shield tells a story, but instead of using words it uses symbols.
Our shield has two parts; each part can be used separately or in tandem. The whole shield is contained in an aureola, an almond shape, which is used in religious art to identify someone who is holy, much in the same way a halo is used. Along the perimeter of the aureola is the name of our parish, St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, Lancaster. Within the aureola is an image of Our Lady being assumed into heaven. The inspiration for the image is taken from the painting of The Assumption of Mary found in the reredos behind the Altar within our church, painted by Mary McCabe Danner. Toward the bottom of the image is a ribbon with the years 1820 and 2020, demonstrating that we are celebrating the bicentennial year of the foundation of our parish. After the close of our bicentennial year, the ribbon will be removed, and the shield will continue to be used.
At the base of the aureola is the shield proper, it contains three symbols. The crown and the crescent moon are taken from the Book of Revelation, chapter twelve verse one, which is read on Assumption Day each year. “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” The symbol of the rising sun is often used to point to Jesus Christ as the Light of the World who rose from the darkness of death to new life by His Resurrection. The symbol of the moon then speaks of Mary, our Blessed Mother, who reflects the light of her Son to her children, and models following Him in newness of life. The crown of twelve stars represents that at Mary’s assumption she was crowned Queen of Heaven, making her not only our mother, but also our queen.
The third symbol in the shield depicts three stylized roses. The Lancaster Rose as it is called, dates from medieval times and is a symbol for the county of Lancaster, England. The Lancaster Rose is also used by the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which received its name from Lancaster, England. It was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania that pioneers came and settled our city of Lancaster, Ohio in the early 1800’s, making our city on the banks of the Hocking River, the third community to bear the name Lancaster.
The three roses are also a symbol of God as the Blessed Trinity. One can as well see in the three roses a symbol for the Rosary with its traditional sets of three mysteries; Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious. Each rose has five petals representing the five mysteries of each set.