The Coat of Arms of
The Most Reverend Steven J. Lopes, STD
The Arms “read” from top to bottom and so reveal the identity of the bearer. The shield itself is divided in two halves by a palisade, which is taken from the Arms of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the diocese where Bishop Lopes attended elementary school and college and where he was also ordained a priest. The palisade evokes the Presidio of San Francisco, the fort established by Spain in 1776 marking the beginnings of the City by the Bay.
The top half of the shield depicts a crown and two stones, traditional representations of the name Steven. The name is derived from the Greek word meaning “crowned one.” This allusion to a crown takes on particular significance in the New Testament, as the Acts of the Apostles recounts the witness of the deacon Saint Stephen, who was put to death for his confession of faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ and so became the first to receive the crown of martyrdom. The two stones on either side of the crown recall the manner of Saint Stephen’s martyrdom, death by stoning. The particular form of the crown depicted in the Arms recalls the royal crown of Portugal (the crown of King João VI), a nod to Bishop Lopes’ Portuguese ancestry on his father’s side.
The bottom half of the shield depicts a wolf, in Latin lupus from which is derived the name Lopes. While it is true that Sacred Scripture often depicts the wolf as menacing the “flock” of God, the wolf has been also been widely used in many forms of heraldry since the middle ages to represent virtues such as courage, nobility, industry and perseverance. Because the wolf is an intensely social animal that does very poorly in isolation, medieval literature sometimes proposed the wolf as an image of the society of the Church.
The colors used in the Arms (silver and red) are drawn from the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and are also a nod to Bishop Lopes’ polish ancestry on his mother’s side.
Behind the shield is placed a gold processional cross and encircling the whole achievement is a green galero or pontifical hat with its six tassels on each side, disposed in three rows. The cross and green galero are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of a bishop in accordance with the Instruction of the Holy See, dated 31 March, 1969. The color of the hat and the number tassels indicate of the rank of the prelate (bishop, archbishop, cardinal), a custom still observed in ecclesiastical heraldry. The cross is marked with five amethysts, the gem stone traditionally associated with a bishop, which here recall the true price of our salvation, the five holy wounds of Christ.
The scroll at the bottom of the Arms bears Bishop Lopes’ episcopal motto, Magna Opera Domini, Great are the Works of the Lord. This motto is taken from Psalm 111: I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who take pleasure in them.
The heraldic concept of these Arms was developed by Dom Stephanos Pedrano, OSB, and realized by Sig. Marco Fappoli.