The Coat of Arms of The Most Reverend John King Mussio, D.D., J.C.D.

Description of the shield:
The coat of arms of the Most Rev. John King Mussio, Bishop of Steubenville, is a sign of the church’s nobility. Designed by the Very Rev. Msgr. John E. Kuhn, of St. Louis Church, Cincinnati. It contains heraldic devices representing the Bishop’s origin, his name Saints, the Diocese, and the city of Steubenville.

MOTTO: "Caritas Urget Nos," Charity Impels Us.


Like all ecclesiastical escutcheons of this kind, this one is divided into two parts, the right half concerned with the Diocese, and the left half containing the Bishop’s personal arms. In heraldic terminology, the right is called dexter, and the left, sinister.

The upper quarter o f the dexter half is symbolic of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the patroness of the Diocese. This dedication is represented by a field of blue, the traditional color of the Blessed Virgin Mary upon which is emblazoned a silver heart and a heraldic rose . Beneath this is a silver crescent indicating the Immaculate Conception.

Von Steuben Arms
Immediately below this upper quarter is another section. Or brisure, on which is found the arms of the Von Steuben family, which was used by Baron Von Steuben, after whom the city is named, as his persona] coat of arms. This, of course, indicates the City of Steubenville. The field is halved into silver and blue, with a diagonal stripe or "blend" in red.

In the lower section of the dexter half , red pentecostal tongues of fire on a silver field refer to the church's mission. This symbol is based on the text of St. Luke, Chapter XXIII verse 49: "I have come to cast fire on the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled." The Cathedral of the Holy Name of Jesus is indicated by a heraldic "celestial crown" of gold, surmounted by seven stars, and resting on a field of red. The IHS ecclesiastical symbol for the name of Jesus, is engraved on the crown

Herald Of St. John
The personal coat of arms of the Bishop, on the sinister side, consists of a silver eagle on a red field. The eagle, which bears a halo is the heraldic designation of St. John, who is the Bishop’s principal patron. His secondary patron, St. Anthony of Padua, is symbolized by a silver heraldic cross of St. Anthony or the Tau cross, so called because it is shaped like the Greek letter Tau ( T. ) The cross is on a red field.

Superimposed upon the eagle is a narrow section, or brisare, which contains a red ploughshare on a field of gold, to indicate the city of Cincinnati , the Bishop’s place of origin.

Symbols Described
As in all episcopal coats of arms, a mitre, processional cross , and crosier, surmounted by a green ecclesiastical hat, are placed behind the shield. Entwined about the hat are green cords, each terminating in six tassels, arranged in three rows the cross crosier, and mitre are symbols of episcopal power and jurisdiction. The hat has been used in coats of arms for centuries as a distinctive mark of ecclesiastical heraldry. Cardinals have a red hat, and archbishops and bishops a green hat. Certain prelates of the Roman court are permitted a purple hat, and priests who have a permanent appointment, like irremovable rectors, may surmount their arms with a black hat.

The number of tassels depending from the cords varies according to the dignity of the personage concerned. A cardinal, for example, is entitled to 15 tassels on each side; an archbishop 10, a bishop 6, a domestic prelate 6, a papal chamberlain 3 and a priest with a permanent appointment 1. The color of the cords  and tassels generally matches that of the hat.

On the scroll beneath the shield is inscribed the motto of Bishop Mussio, "Caritas Urget Nos," Charity Impels Us.

Is Part Of Seal
The Holy Father, cardinals, archbishops, bishops and other ecclesiastical dignitaries use a coat of arms because they are considered members of the church’s nobility. The primary purpose of a coat of arms comes from the custom of the medieval knights, who had their distinctive markings embroidered on the coat they wore over their armor.