The Ecclesiastical Emblems in the Český Krumlov Region

In the region of Český Krumlov we can come across the coats-of-arms of two well known abbots of Cistercian Monasteries - Zlatá Koruna Monastery and Vyšší Brod Monastery.

Ecclesiastical heraldry started to evolve from the secular heraldry and has a common shield with it, but above it instead of a helmet, jewel and denomination cover places signs of spiritual power - hats with strings and tassels, cross, mitre and crosier. Only bishops, who are at the same time consecrated dukes, can use both types of the coats-of-arms together. Bishops and other prelates, who were conferred the mitre on the basis of a special papal's privilege (for example abbots), placed above the shield on the heraldicly right side heraldry of the mitre and on the opposite side the bishop's crosier. The bishops carry it with the spiral turned outward, to show that they have jurisdiction in their region, abbots (like other prelates) towards the mitre, because their jurisdiction relates only to the grounds of the monastery itself. These rules were not followed closely. In the ecclesiastical heraldry we can find more exceptions than in the secular heraldry, because it didn't fall under a close jurisdiction of the heralds.

One can obtain the ecclesiastical coat-of-arms by being a member of a ecclesiastical community, by obtaining a higher ecclesiastical standing and by order of the pope. The choice of the emblem sign was left to their bearers. Many added to their ecclesiastical coat-of-arms, which was placed either in the centre of the shield or in the first section, also the family coat-of-arms, which increased the value but often also complicated already difficult heraldry relations. Only simple members of monks' orders could not posses a coat-of-arms, because it was not allowed by the strict monastic order. The Bohemian monasteries in majority cases do not have their own coats-of-arms and seals, because they used the emblems of their monastic order, to which they sometimes added an illustration of the monastery cathedral, which is also the case of the mentioned monasteries.

The coat-of arms of Pachmann (1661-1668), the abbot from the Zlatá Koruna Monastery
The emblem of the Zlatá Koruna Monastery was a black crown of thorns on a gold shield. It is actually a talking sign, because the original name of the monastery was Holy Crown of Thorns (Sancta spinea corona). The motives of the thorny crown alone were found on the vaulted nave of the original monastery church. The abbots of Zlatá Koruna sometimes placed into one field of the shield a crown of thorns on a cross.

The coat-of-arms of Bohumír Bylanský, the last abbot of the Zlatá Koruna Monastery
His emblem can be seen on several places in the monastery, carried out in stucco and in painting.
Popis znaku : In the 1st section there is a cross with a crown of thorns stuck in a dragon - a remainder to the maternal monastery of Sv. Kříž (Heiligenkreuz) in Austria, from where the first members of the Cistercian order came from, to the un-populated and wild countryside , where they established the monastery of Svatá Koruna (Holy Crown), later Zlatá Koruna (Golden Crown). An illustration of St. Maria, the patron of the Cistercian order and all Cistercian order churches is the 2nd field, therefore also Zlatá Koruna. In the 3rd field there is a pelican feeding its young with its own blood - a symbol of Christ sacrifice on the cross for the people. In the 4th field, a hawk standing on a golden crown, his claw held up, and holding a stone - a symbol of vigilance. If the hawk fell asleep, he would drop the stone and therefore wake up. The connection of the hawk with the crown most likely means, the vigilance of the abbot over the monastery that was given into his care. In the heart shield, which is placed on a cross, we can see two hands joined together holding scales, and above them is the eye of God - which is the symbol of the right of the convent of Zlatá Koruna to elect its abbot freely. This happened in each Cistercian abbey. The letters MORS at the end of the cross, are a cryptogram of one of the oldest of five Cistercian monasteries Morimundus in France, from where all Bohemian and Moravian orders derived from. The abbatial ranks (mitre and crosier) are illustrated here as regulation, only the spiral should face towards the mitre.

Cistercian Monastery of Vyšší Brod
The coat-of-arms of the abbots from the monastery of Vyšší Brod, is compiled from four sections. One field is reserved for the ruling abbot, and in the second one we can find the Gothic letter H (Hohenfurth - which is the German name of the monastery) sometimes joined with the letter A (Altovadum - a Latin name for the monastery). In the third field we can find a French lilly, which reminds the country of origin of the order, and in the fourth we can see a five petal rose, which points to the coat-of-arms of the founder of the family of Rosenberg.

Further information:
Ecclesiastical Emblems in Český Krumlov