The coat of arms for The Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki as archbishop of Milwaukee is a combination of his own personal coat of arms and that of the archdiocese. A coat of arms is composed of the shield, the person’s motto and external ornaments symbolizing the office.
His Excellency’s deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is reflected in the predominance of the color red on the shield. The remainder of the design consists of silver; silver and red are the colors of the Polish national flag, honoring the ethnic heritage of the archbishop and his parents Harry and Alfreda (Kasprzyk) Listecki.
The dominant charge in the design is an open book, reflecting Archbishop Listecki’s baptismal patron, St. Jerome, who is credited with the translation of the sacred Scriptures into Latin, called the “Latin Vulgate.” The open book also reflects Archbishop Listecki’s many years of priestly ministry engaged in seminary education, teaching moral theology at Quigley Seminary, St. Joseph Seminary and Mundelein Seminary. The book of laws is emblematic that Archbishop Listecki is both a civil lawyer and a canon lawyer. Since both bodies of law are responsible to the Law of Christ, the book displays the Latin phrase “LEX CHRISTI LEX CARITATIS” (“the Law of Christ is the Law of Love”).
The open book is placed on two crossed golden swords reflecting Archbishop Listecki’s deep devotion to St. Michael the Archangel, defender of the faith. It also signifies the many years His Excellency has been a military chaplain, currently holding the rank of lieutenant colonel (retired) in the United States Army. The golden swords also signify that at the time of his appointment to the episcopacy, he was pastor of the Jesuit St. Ignatius Church, Chicago.
The conjoined book and swords are placed below a silver (white) fleur-de-lis, honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. Also above the book and swords is a silver (white) eight-pointed star, symbolizing the light of truth, which is placed in the design to honor St. Dominic, the founder of the religious Order of Preachers.
For his motto, His Excellency has chosen the phrase “LIFE IS CHRIST.” The phrase comes from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (Phil 1:18-26) and expresses His Excellency’s deep belief that, for Catholic Christians, every aspect of life is necessarily intertwined with belief in Jesus Christ and the need to respect life, so endangered in today’s society.
On the left side of the shield is the insignia of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, designed during the tenure of Archbishop Sebastian Messmer in the early 1900s. It combines the symbols of Archbishop John Martin Henni, first archbishop of Milwaukee, symbolism of Milwaukee’s geographical location, and an eagle, emblem of the titular patron of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
The archdiocesan shield is red and white, the colors of Switzerland, Archbishop Henni’s native land. The four red arms meet in symbolic reference to the meeting of waters, the Milwaukee and Menomonee rivers and Lake Michigan in Milwaukee.
The external ornaments of the coat of arms are the pontifical hat with 10 tassels on either side, all symbols of the rank of archbishop.
The coat of arms is completed with external ornaments showing the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of bishop by the instruction of the Holy See of March 31, 1969. These include a gold processional cross placed behind the shield and extending above and below the shield, and a pontifical hat, called a “gallero,” with its six tassels, in three rows, on either side of the shield, all in green.