The Coat of Arms
of the Most Holy Redeemer
In our legislative texts (the Rules
of 1749, the Constitutions of 1764 and the
Constitutions and Statutes of 1982) there
is nothing about the Coat of Arms of the Congregation.
They speak only of the seal. However this
seal has always been used as the Coat of Arms
of the Congregation.
Statute 06, which reproduces substantially
Constitution 717 of 1764, defines the seal
“The seal of the Congregation consists
of a cross with a lance and sponge mounted
on three hills; on either side of the cross
are the abbreviated names of Jesus and Mary;
above the cross is an eye sending forth rays;
over all a crown. Around the seal is the motto:
“With him is Plentiful Redemption” (cf. Ps.
From the beginning of the foundation
the necessity of having a seal was recognized.
It was required to guarantee the legality
of documents presented to religious or
authorities for the approbation of the Institute
and its Rules and for new foundations. For
this purpose St. Alphonsus and his first companions
chose some religious symbols that in some
way indicated the idea or purpose of the new
Institute, adding some decorative elements
that more or less followed the rules of heraldry.
The elaboration of the seal took
some years, though we do not know precisely
the different steps taken before arriving
at the final version. In the Casa Anastasio,
there is a drawing sketched
on a wall attributed to Brother Vitus
Curzio, that is
considered the first seal of the Institute.
On this wall, over the cooking stove, the
cross can be seen above a hill, also the lance,
the sponge and a ladder with the date 1738.
The seal of the Congregation had to be defined
before the pontifical approbation of the Rules
(1749), as we see in the Acts of the chapter
The Secretary had written: “the seal: the cross over three hills, and above the cross a radiant eye.
St. Alphonsus erased the words “and
above the cross a radiant eye and added: “the
cross with the lance and the sponge, and at
the side the names of Jesus and Mary. Above
the cross a radiant eye and over all, the
Then immediately follows the design of the
In this seal, however, which seems
to have been designed by St. Alphonsus we
have the motto Copiosa
redemptio and the coat of arms is supported by two small
branches (of palm?) This last detail does
not appear in any seal or coat of arms and
finds no place in the legislation of the Congregation.
From the second half of the nineteenth century
the branch of laurel or olive and sometimes
of palm appears frequently in the coat of
arms of the Congregation, though on this matter
the Constitutions are silent.
Two years after the Assembly of
1747 the seal of the Congregation appears
on the cover of the second edition of the
Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament, published
in Naples in 1749 and from then on was considered
the seal of the Congregation.
Coat of Arms and its symbolism
has never been an official explanation of
the elements that constitute the seal or coat
of arms of the Institute. The symbolic elements
of which it is composed represent the work
of Redemption carried out by Jesus Christ
and which the Institute was to proclaim under
the protection of Mary. This explains the
cross on the hill with the lance and sponge,
the names of Jesus and Mary and the motto
Copiosa apud eum redemptio.
heraldry an eye within an equilateral triangle
is the symbol of the Trinity. Since the triangle
is missing here, the eye can be interpreted
as the gracious mercy of God to humanity,
or the branches of palm, olive or laurel can
be considered as complimentary heraldic elements
or adornment. The crown over the coat of arms
can be interpreted as the crown of glory that
is the reward for persevering in one’s vocation.
The same interpretation of triumph and reward
can be given to the palm, olive and laurel.
The three summits of the mountain have no
special symbolical value. It is the usual
way to represent a mountain according to the
norms of heraldry.
We don’t know what motivated St.
Alphonsus and his companions to choose the
elements that compose the seal/coat of arms
of the Congregation. The Acts of the Chapter
of 1747 give no explanation. The chosen symbols
explain themselves as indicating the purpose
and spirituality of a missionary Institute
with the name of the Holy Savior. Some biographers,
however, consider that in some way the elaboration
of the seal was influenced by extraordinary
events that took place in Scala during the
exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament on
the occasion of a triduum
preceding the foundation of the Institute,
November 9, 1732. Witnesses testify to have
seen in the Host a cross in black or dark
color above a mountain together with the instruments
of the Passion. Others speak of a star or
stars and of something white like a cloud.
St. Alphonsus says that he saw “a dark colored
cross and what seemed a small cloud like a
star that was whiter
than the sacramental species at the side of
the dark colored cross”.
Mgr. Falcoia informed St. Alphonsus
the day following the first apparition on
September 11, 1732, that having overcome
their initial shock, the Sisters felt that
“by this His Divine Majesty wished to authorize
and confirm the Institute”.
Taking all this into consideration there is nothing strange
about the coincidence of the principal elements
of the seal or coat of arms and the basic
contents of the Eucharistic apparitions –
the mountain, the cross and the instruments
of the Passion.
Mgr. Falcoia had proposed as a
motto for the seal in 1736 Jer.
1,11: Virgam vigilantem ego video,
but St. Alphonsus preferred Ps.129,7: Copiosa apud eum redemptio. He used these words of the psalm repeatedly
in his writings, always with the declared
intention of encouraging the confidence of
the sinner in the infinite mercy of God. Through
Jesus Christ in the work of redemption He
had shown his immense love for all mankind
in pardoning our sins and making us his children.
Redemption is the proof that God loves us
and has mercy on us because he has pardoned
us and filled us with good things.
In his book, Translation
of the psalms and canticles of the Divine
Office, St. Alphonsus indicates in the
introduction that the fundamental theme of
this psalm is an expression
of the confidence of the sinner in the divine
mercy through Jesus Christ. “In this psalm
we consider the Jews before their liberation
from Babylon. It serves, however, for every
sinner who, oppressed by the weight of his
sins, implores the help of God”.
And on verse 7 St. Alphonsus comments
thus: “Here the prophet indicates the basis
of all our hopes, which is the blood of Christ
with which he redeemed the human race. He
says this, because the mercy of God is infinite
and able to redeem us from all our evil deeds
with abundant helps”.
Redemption is plentiful not only
because it frees us from sin and all its effects,
but also because it gives us a new life in
Christ. St. Alphonsus expresses this when
he compares verse 7 of psalm 129 with other
texts that speak of the “abundance” of grace
and the new life especially in John. 10,10:
come that they may have life and have it in
abundance”, and in Romans 5,15: for
God’s act of grace is out of all proportion
to the wrongdoing and again in Romans
5,20: Where sin increased, God’s grace increased
In harmony with St. Alphonsus,
the Constitutions understand redemption in
its widest sense, since Constitution 6 describes
the Redemptorists as “humble and courageous
servants of the Gospel”.
message has for its special object
redemption; it proclaims the love of God
the Father ‘who first loved us and sent his
Son to be the expiation for our sins’ (1 John.
4.10) and through the Spirit gives life to
all who believe in Him. This redemption affects
the entire person. It brings to perfection
and transforms all human values, so as to
unite all things in Christ (cf. Eph. 1,10;
1 Cor. 3,23) and thus leads them to their
completion in a new earth and a new heaven
(cf. Rev. 21.1)”.
Pope John Paul expressed the same
idea in his messages to the Redemptorists.
On the occasion of the second centenary of
the death of St. Alphonsus (1987) the Pope
invited Redemptorists in all their apostolic
work to speak of “God the Father who is ‘rich
in mercy’ and of the ‘plentiful’ redemption
of Christ, the Redeemer of mankind.”
On the occasion of the third centenary
of the birth of St. Alphonsus (1996) the Pope
defined in a more explicit manner the fundamental
significance of copiosa
redemptio as the mercy and love of God for humanity.
“Following St. Alphonsus, in all
pastoral ministry the centrality of Christ must always be stressed,
as the mystery of the mercy of the Father.
Redemptorists should never tire of proclaiming
that is, the infinite love which Christ has
for human beings, especially those most in
need of healing and freedom when tainted by
the horrible consequences of sin.”
As we can see the Coat of Arms
of the Congregation and especially the motto
apud eum redemptio
has acquired greater importance today than
in the past and can be considered as a clearer
expression of the identity and mission of
the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.