Catholic Diocese of Nsukka

Enugu State, Nigeria

The Coat of Arms of Bishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah

The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka

The Bishop's coat of arms is composed of a shield with its symbols, a motto scroll and the external ornamentation. The shield, the symbols and the colours have their specific meanings:

IHS - The primary aspect of the coat of arms is the monogram of the Holy Name of Jesus Christ (IHS), in red. The God-made-man, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, Jesus the Christ, is the head of the Church. He is the Good Shepherd ( Jn 10:11&14) who, through the instrumentality of mere mortals, leads His Church at all times and in all places. It is through Him, with Him and in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, that we encounter the Father. For no one can get to the Father except through Him ( Jn 14:6). In Jesus, God has fully revealed Himself as love ( 1Jn 4:8&16). This love, made manifest in the shedding of His blood for our redemption is represented in the colour red.

The Boat and the Star - In the middle area is a boat, often referred to as the Boat (or Barque) of St. Peter, which represents the Church, in gold. Leading and directing the sail of the boat is the Morning Star, symbol of Our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, in gold. In heraldic symbolism, gold is the colour of faith. Without faith, there would be no Church. Our Blessed Mother is our model of faith. The blue and vast sea in which the Boat of the Church is sailing can sometimes be turbulent (as is represented by the waves in silver lines). But that Boat will never sink. We have Jesus' word for it: "I am with you always, until the end of time" ( Mtt 28:20).

The Elephant - At the base of the shield is a black elephant. In the Bishop's home community, Imilike, the elephant is a symbol of stability and of moral and religious authority, personified in the oldest man in the community, who is the father of all and bears the title: "Enyi Nna-Ogene" - the Elephant of Imilike (the current bearer of this title is the Bishop's father). The elephant in the coat of arms thus represents the Bishop's cultural roots, which extend far beyond Imilike and Nsukka Diocese to embrace the entire continent of Africa - hence the blackness of the elephant.

The Shield - The shield itself is seven-sided, recalling the seven sacraments of the Church. The golden background of the entire shield recalls the Year of Faith (11 October 2012 - 24 November 2013) in which the Bishop was appointed and ordained.

Motto - For his motto, Bishop Godfrey has chosen the phrase "Volumus Iesum Videre" ("We want to see Jesus"), taken from the request some Greeks made to the Apostle Philip in John 12:21. This phrase expresses not only a prayer but also a multi-directional project. The Bishop sees his Episcopal ministry as an invitation to a closer and more profound personal encounter with Jesus. He also would like to take along with him in this spiritual journey all the faithful of Nsukka Diocese together with their culture. For he believes that the redemptive encounter of a people and its culture with Jesus has liberating and invigorating effects. The motto is also a reminder to him and to all Christians that people expect to see Jesus in them.

The External Ornamentations - The coat of arms is completed by elements which form part of the insignia of a prelate of the rank of bishop, according to the instruction of The Holy See: a processional cross at the back of the shield, decorated with five red gemstones, signs of the five wounds of Jesus (there is no Christianity without the cross) and an ecclesiastical hat called the "galero" with twelve tassels, six on either side of the shield, all in green.