The History of the Episcopal Shield

The shield was adopted by the General Convention of 1940 and is rich in symbolism.  The red cross on a white field is the St. George Cross, an indicator of our link to the Church of England, the mother church of the Anglican Communion.  The miniature crosses in the blue quadrant symbolize the nine original American Dioceses that met in Philadelphia in 1789 to adopt the constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.  They are: Connecticut (established in 1783), Maryland (1783), Massachusetts (1784), Pennsylvania (1784), New Jersey (1785), New York (1785), South Carolina (1785), Virginia (1785), and Delaware (1786).   The blue field in the upper left is the color traditionally associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary and is  symbolic of  Jesus’  human nature, which he received from his mother.

The outline of the miniature crosses is in the form of St. Andrew’s Cross in tribute to the Scottish church’s role in ordaining the first American Bishop, Samuel Seabury, in 1784.  The colors red, white and blue symbolize, respectively, (Red) the sacrifice of Christ and Christian martyrs,(White) the purity of the Christian faith, and (Blue) the humanity of Christ received from the Virgin Mary. In duplicating the colors of the American flag, they also represent the Episcopal Church’s standing as the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion.