Thomas Joseph Murphy

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Born : October 3, 1932
Deceased : June 26, 1997

Bishop of Great Falls, 1978-1980
Bishop of Great Falls-Billings, 1980-1987
Co-adjutor of Archdiocese of Seattle, 1987-1991
Archbishop of Seattle, 1991 – 1997

Arms of Thomas Joseph Murphy

Official blazon


As common in US episcopal heraldry, the arms show the arms of the diocese impaled with the personal arms of the bishop.

For his personal arms Archbishop Murphy has drawn on a series of double significances to reflect the meaning of his baptismal name, "Thomas," which is taken from the Aramaic meaning "twin." This is seen in the use of two heraldic ordinaries as well as the two dominant colors, red and silver.

In each of the red quarters is a silver lion rampant from the arms of an Irish O'Murphy family (not necessarily related to the Bishop). There are two of these reflecting not only the family and Irish heritage of the archbishop's father, Bartholomew Murphy, but also his mother Nellie's maiden name was also Murphy. In the silver quarters is a chevron which is taken from the actual coat of arms of St. Thomas More and which doubles in meaning by representing the carpenter's square of Archbishop Murphy's second patron, St. Thomas the Apostle, who was believed to have been a carpenter. The chevrons are blue, the color of Mary, to honor the patroness of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary (now the University of St. Mary of the Lake) in Mundelein, IL where the archbishop served as Rector from 1973 to the time of his appointment as Bishop of Great Falls, Montana in 1978. The color blue in the chevron doubles in meaning for the waters of Lake Michigan upon which the city of Chicago sits. The archbishop was born, raised, educated and served as priest in Chicago from 1958 until his elevation to the episcopacy in 1978.

The the fess and its charges, the silver garbs of wheat, are also taken from some O'Murphy family coat of arms. The fess is black to symbolize Archbishop Murphy's vocation in life through the use of the priestly color. The twin garbs are for the Holy Eucharist to which Archbishop Murphy dedicated his life as a priest and for the Archdiocese of Seattle for whose people the archbishop dedicated his life in service of their needs.

The motto "IN CHRISTO GAUDIUM ET SPES" is Latin for "IN CHRIST JOY AND HOPE." The first phrase of Arhcbishop Murphy's motto (In Christo) is taken from "Instaurare Omnia in Christo" (All Things Come Together in Christ) which was the episcopal motto of Pope Saint Pius X, who established the Diocese of Great Falls, Montana in 1904, where Archbishop Murphy served as bishop from 1978 to 1987. The second phrase, Gaudium Et Spes, is taken from the Second Vatican Council's document "The Church in the Modern World" which in Latin, in combination with the modernistic presentation of the archbishop's total heraldic achievement completes the "twin" significance of his arms, reflecting the archbishop's ministry in the modern world and his foundations in the heritage of Holy Mother, The Church.


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Literature : Information from the Archdiocese of Seattle.