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Friday, June 20, 2014

Pierre de Chaignon la Rose and the Mystery of Saint Edward's Seminary

"Friends of St. Edward State Park"
Pencil, by the author.

As I was searching the web for resources on la Rose's work, I came across a blog post from the Friends of Saint Edward State Park in Kenmore, Washington.  Once upon a time, there was a seminary founded by the Society of Saint Sulpice in the Archdiocese of Seattle.  The seminary was dedicated to Saint Edward the Confessor and la Rose was enlisted to devise arms for the school.  Constructed around 1931, the 316-acre property was to house the seminary.  It closed in 1977.  Now, the grounds have been turned into a state park and is supported by a group of local citizens.

Through some research, the group identified a drawing for arms executed by la Rose along with a letter, all of which are reportedly held in the archives of the archdiocese.

la Rose's draft shield for Saint Edward's Seminary
Source: Blog Posting of 31 Aug 2013

The blog posting from 31 August 2013 contains the following information from la Rose:
Saint Edward himself has a very beautiful coat ascribed him by the medieval heralds-apocryphal, of course, as he lived before the rise of personal heraldry, but still, an actual emblem which he used on his coinage: a cross with five martlets.  This in conjunction with the Sulpician emblem, I shall make the basis of a carefully studied design.
The arms ascribed to Saint Edward by the early heralds consist of a gold cross and five gold 'martlets' on a blue field.  The shapes and arrangement are the same as in my own drawing.  We may not use this coat unaltered, for to do so would imply, heraldically, that St. Edward was the Founder of the Seminary, instead of being simply its Patron.  I have therefore changed the coloring from blue and gold to red and silver - the colors of the diocesan arms. As for St. Edward's cross and martlets, they appear, as I think I told you, on his coins.  The significance of the birds I do not know, nor does anyone else.  In heraldry they are always shown as having no feet visible. 
On the Sulpician 'inescutcheon' you will note the crescent (of the Immaculate Conception) which distinguishes the American house of the society from the French. 
From a letter of Pierre de Chaignon La Rose, 13 February, 1931
That is all that is known about the tinctures.  I wanted to see if I could recreate these arms and bring them to life for the benefit of the friends society.  I took license with the ineschutcheon, opting for azure to represent the Blessed Virgin Mary (which the Sulpician monogram represents) but left the charges all in argent.  I opted to shade this in as silver rather than leaving them stark white.  The banner surrounding the shield can be found in another of la Rose's work, the arms of Rice University.  Since I could not fit in the entire name, "The Friends of Saint Edward State Park," I again used artistic license to get the point across.  I selected the date of 2007, represented by Roman numerals (for the Roman Catholic nature of the place), because this is the date the property was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

All in all, I love a challenge and enjoyed this.  While I'll never know if what I drew was correct in la Rose's mind, it doesn't much matter.  

I have created the following blazon:
Gules, a cross floury between five martlets argent; on an ineschutcheon azure, the Badge of the Society of Saint Sulpice in the United States of the second.


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