Coat of Arms
Or, a sceptre in bend between two Indian arrowheads Gules, on a chief embattled Azure, three fleurs-de-lis of the first.
The diocesan heraldic achievement, or as it is more commonly known, the "Coat of Arms" of the diocese, is composed of a shield, with its charges (symbols) and the external ornaments. The shield, which is the central and most important feature of any heraldic device, is described (blazoned) in archaic, 12th century terminology.
The Coat of Arms of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, which was established as an independent See by His Holiness Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1961, are composed of a gold (yellow) field on which are placed a red sceptre between two red arrowheads to signify the heritage and naming of the See city. As the story goes, on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, a red pole was planted as a marker of the boundary between the territories of the Muskhogean and Choctaw tribes. The earliest explorers, who were French, noted this and called the site "Bâton Rouge," which is French for "Red Stick." In this design, the two arrowheads are for the two Indian tribes, and the red sceptre is used to "cant" (play on) the name of the city. The red and yellow colors serve too as a reminder of the area's Spanish colonial heritage. The sceptre also signifies the royal status of Christ, our King, reminding us that we are His subjects.
The upper portion of the design, called a chief, is blue. Its bottom edge is "embattled," to reflect the towers and upper structures of the Old State Capitol building located in Baton Rouge. The gold (yellow) fleurs-de-lis on the chief are taken from the coat of arms of Baton Rouge's mother See, the Archdiocese of New Orleans. They may also be seen as honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary, her spouse St. Joseph (who is patron of the Diocese of Baton Rouge and its Cathedral), and the French heritage of the area: the lily flower is a common symbol both of the mother of Christ and of St. Joseph, and the fleurs-de-lis the traditional symbol of the pre-Revolutionary French monarchy and nation.
The Coat of Arms is completed with the addition of one traditional external ornament: a jeweled miter. By this ornamentation -- the miter being the ceremonial head covering of a bishop in the western, or Latin, Catholic Church -- the coat of arms is recognized as that of a diocese.
The diocesan Coat of Arms was designed principally by His Excellency the Most Reverend Robert E. Tracy, D.D., LL.D., the First Bishop of Baton Rouge, assisted by Mr. W. F. J. Ryan in the initial artwork and with original descriptions given by the late Reverend Monsignor Patrick Gillespie, P.A., V.G.