‘Cor ad cor loquitur’ — The meaning of Archbishop Russell’s motto, coat of arms

Archbishop Russell's motto, "Cor ad cor loquitur" ("Heart speaks to heart"), is the same at St. John Henry Newman's. His coat of arms features heraldry from his family's Polish heritage.

Editor’s Note: When a priest becomes a bishop, he chooses an episcopal motto and coat of arms that reflects his spirituality and devotion to God. Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell chose his motto, “Cor ad cor loquitur” (“Heart speaks to heart”) and coat of arms when he was ordained a bishop on June 3, 2016, at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.

‘Cor ad cor loquitur’
(‘Heart speaks to heart’)

Archbishop Russell’s motto is the same as St. John Henry Newman’s. It has its origin in Psalm 15:2: “Lord, who shall be admitted to your tent and dwell on your holy mountain? He who walks without fault; he who acts with justice and speaks the truth from his heart.”

St. Augustine (Confessions, Book 12.16.23) uses a similar phrase: “Now I would like to discuss a little further, in your presence, O my God, with those who admit that all these things are true that your Truth has indicated to my mind. Let those who deny these things bark and drown their own voices with as much clamor as they please. I will endeavor to persuade them to be quiet and to permit your word to reach them. But if they are unwilling, and if they repel me, I ask of you, O my God, that you should not be silent to me. Speak truly in my heart; if only you would speak in this manner, I would send them away, blowing up the dust and raising it in their own eyes. As for myself, I will enter into my inner room and there sing to you songs of love, groaning with groanings that are unutterable now in my pilgrimage, and remembering Jerusalem with my heart uplifted to Jerusalem my country, Jerusalem my mother; and to you yourself, the Ruler of the source of Light, its Father, Guardian, Husband; its chaste and strong de- light, its solid joy and all its goods ineffable — and all of this at the same time, since you are the one supreme and true Good!”

The phrase, cor cordi loquitur, appears in St. Francis de Sales’s “Treatise on the Love of God,” in the first chapter of Book VI, describing mystical theology and prayer: “Do you mark, Theotimus, how the silence of afflicted lovers speaks by the apple of their eye, and by tears? Truly the chief exercise in mystical theology is to speak to God and to hear God speak in the bottom of the heart; and because this discourse passes in most secret aspirations and inspirations, we term it a silent conversing. Eyes speak to eyes, and heart to heart, and none understand what passes save the sacred lovers who speak.”

The phrase “heart speaks to heart,” therefore, is a description of the personal relationship between God and the human person achieved through prayer.

Cardinal Newman modified St. Francis de Sales’s expression, although the translation is exactly the same. Huw Twiston Davies (“Cor ad cor loquitur: what does the papal visit motto really mean?”, August 13, 2010) writes: “The word ad in Latin is used more often in relation to objects or places, and perhaps it is this more firmly grounded tone that Newman sought in altering the phrase, an implication of directness of speech, without pretense.”

Coat of arms


Or, charged with a bear Sable facing dexter with a maiden on its back. The girl, vested in royal attire Argent and a crown Or, with flowing hair and hands upraised in a cross-like way, all proper.


According to legend, an English king had a son and a daughter. The king, in his Last Will and Testament, left a crown and the kingdom’s immovable property to his son, and the kingdom’s movable property to his daughter. After the king died, the Prince, instigated by his councilors, decided to fulfill his father’s will nominally. He ordered to drive a wild black bear, which undoubtedly was part of the kingdom’s movable property, to the Princess’s bedchamber. In the case of the Princess’s seemingly inevitable death, the king’s wish would be fulfilled and Princess’s failure to manage her inheritance would be proven. However, the Princess not only tamed the beast, but even rode out of her chamber on its back, upraising her hands and calling for justice.

When her brother heard of this miracle, he begged his sister’s forgiveness, and consented to her marriage to a Prince of Lorraine, with whom she had several sons, who requested and received this Coat of Arms. The descendants of those sons spread into Bohemia. Their early history is described by Cosmas of Prague in the “Chronicle of Bohemians” (1119-1125). Members of the family were subsequently exiled from Bohemia and emigrated to Poland, where King Boleslaw Wrymouth gave them a friendly reception and an estate in Rawa. The family and Coat of Arms came to be called Rawa after their new homeland, and later became Rawicz.

This legend is stated in a well-known Polish armorial “Orbis Polonus” assembled by Szymon Okolski in 1641-1643.

This Coat of Arms, one of the oldest in Poland, expresses the triumph of good over evil, of virtue over perfidy. It symbolizes the ability to overcome difficulties with honor. Archbishop Russell’s father descends from a family which belongs to the Rawicz clan. As is customary, Archbishop Russell uses his family’s Coat of Arms without any alteration.

The device is completed with the external ornaments which are a gold processional cross, in this case, an archiepiscopal cross with two cross bars, which is placed in back of the shield and which extends above and below the shield, and a pontifical hat, called a “gallero,” with its 10 tassels, in four rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of archbishop by instruction of The Holy See of March 31, 1969.

Information from Mass booklet June 3, 2016, at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.


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