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THE ARMS OF THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL
ARMS OF KING SAUL AND THE SAULIDE PRINCES OF ISRAEL
The first Royal House of Israel was the short-lived House of Saul (1030-1010 BC). Saul himself - and his son Ishbaal - were of the tribe of Benjamin, so that the arms of this House are an adaptation of its arms. They differ only in the Crown set on the head of the wolf.
Blazon: Gules a wolf argent crowned with an eastern crown or.
ARMS OF THE PRINCES OF JUDAH
The Arms of a Prince of Judah are as though transmitted to Him by hereditary descent from the original armiger King David, in accordance with the law governing the transmission of landed property in Numbers 27:1-11, except that, in order to be entitled to the coat, a person must be a direct male-line descendant of one who is himself so entitled.
Accordingly, a man transmits his arms to his sons equally, but if he dies leaving no sons with issue, but only daughters (and in that case only), these inherit equally as co-heiresses. Unlike the case of Western heraldry, the arms of an heiress therefore pass to her descendants with the property of her husband even if he is not armigerous in his own right, but only if her husband belongs to her tribe (cf. Numbers 36:1-13).
Blazon: Argent a lion rampant armed and langued azure crowned with the Holy Crown of King David proper and charged on the body with an inescutcheon of the second a Harp of King David or.
The arms presented here are in their basic form as though transmitted from King David. The lion recalls the decorative epithet "Lion of the Tribe of Judah" which Christ inherited from His ancestors in respect of their Kingship. The inescutcheon with the harp recalls the musical instrument David played to soothe the madness of King Saul and defers to the tradition of Hans Burgkmayr (1473-1531), a prominent engraver from Augsburg who attributed arms to David, as one of the "Nine Worthies", in this form. This inescutcheon could be seen as honouring his exploits against Goliath and the Philistines before he became King.
The right to bear arms by descent from King David is accompanied by the qualification of Royal Highness and the title of Prince of Judah, and by eligibility for the Crown, though the latter is restricted to males who are Jews by birth from a Jewish mother (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). The Crown normally passes from father to son by primogeniture, though the person in possession may at will divert the succession to any other eligible person and may abdicate in his lifetime.
The Crown of David is an office of divine right and is therefore imperishable in the legal order, capable of being possessed and disposed of according to law whether or not the incumbent also has effective political power, and even if there is no State for him to rule. The Curator of the Crown is he who holds the Crown without at the same time possessing political power; it is almost certain that St Joseph held this dignity at the time of his marriage to Mary.
Three marks of difference are applied to the arms of members of the House of David:
The Sceptre, which is reserved to the arms of the reigning King;
The Crown on the head of the lion, which is reserved to armigers by descent from King David who are eligible for the throne, no matter how remotely related (cf. Deuteronomy 17:14-20);
The (non-hereditary) red bar at the top of the shield with five white discs, reserved for a son who, as the first-born of his mother, was (or is) liable according to Jewish law to be redeemed with five silver shekels (Exodus 13:2; Numbers 3:44-48, 18:16);
The augmentation of honour, unique to Christ in recognition of His dignity as the God-Man and in honour of His patriotic love for His homeland and its people, in the form of a pattern of Sacred Hearts strewn on the shield, the Sacred Heart being a symbol of the universal love of Christ for sinners.
In addition, the shield itself is crowned with the Crown of David when borne by the King or the Curator of the Throne. In its original form it consists of a gold circlet with twelve triangular pointed rays (an Eastern Crown in heraldry), and it is this simple form which crowns the lion on the shield of one who bears arms by descent. The augmentations to the Crown - the circlet of thorns, and the arches with the orb beneath the Cross, are honours relative to the Passion and death of Christ and His Resurrection.
They are therefore reserved to Him and to armigerous descendants of David who are either baptised Christians alive on earth, or perrsons known to be with God in heaven. Uniquely, these coats can be borne posthumously in beatitude by those whom the Church has declared to be blessed, since the jurisdiction of Christ the King, who is the Fount of Honour and Lord of the living and the dead, extends both to this age and to the age to come.
These Blessed would certainly include St Joseph and might also include those identified in the New Testament as "brethren of the Lord". The massacre of the Princes of Judah by the Emperor Domitian during the first century, as recorded by Eusebius, would seem to render it virtually impossible to identify any persons today who qualify as such. If any could be positively identified they would all, in the case of Jewish males, rank as Princes of the Blood Royal because of the theoretical right of all of them equally to succeed to the throne.
In that most unlikely event they would not be entitled to claim by inheritance the arms presented here solely on the grounds that they are privately attributed to King David. But they would undoubtedly have the right to petition the public authorities for a grant of arms on the grounds of their standing as Princes. They would be subject in that case to their local heraldic authorities as to the arms they may adopt and the differencings they might have to add in order to keep them distinct in appearance from arms already in use by others. Arms which are attributed posthumously to persons now in the state of beatitude are, for obvious reasons, not subject to this rule.
The armorial coat presented below is attributed to Christ and bears all the differencings and augmentations due to Him as the divine King of Israel and as the first-born of His mother. Catholics may find it to be especially suitable for display in His honour together with the Image of the Sacred Heart, and in places in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.
ARMS OF HM THE KING
Blazon: Argent semy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus gules surmounted fesswise of two intertwined circlets of thorns issuant from the heart a Latin cross sable in a flame tenne a lion rampant armed and langued azure crowned with the Holy Crown of King David proper holding in both paws a sceptre erect or and charged on the body with an inescutcheon of the fifth a Harp of King David of the sixth in chief a bar of the second five plates.
The shield is crowned with the Holy Crown of King David.
ARMS OF THE CROWN PRINCE
Blazon: Argent a lion rampant armed and langued azure crowned with the Holy Crown of King David or and charged on the body with an inescutcheon of the second a Harp of King David of the third all in a bordure ermine.
It is not possible to verify with the certainty required for the establishment of pedigrees whether the House of David is still extant on earth in the male line, and hence whether there is alive today anyone who can make a good claim to be the Crown Prince of Israel.
Since the Throne is settled forever on Jesus Christ, the Crown Prince's right of succession would be theoretical only. Whoever he may be, he would be the most senior male-line relative of the King by primogeniture, with dynasts representing their deceased and non-Jewish ancestors per stirpes ad infinitum.
From the moment Joseph of Nazareth abdicated the Throne of David in favour of Jesus he became the Crown Prince of Israel, in accordance with the fixed rule of the Jewish law of inheritance, that a man succeeds to the estate of a childless son who predeceases him.
Since Joseph retains the undifferenced arms of the Royal House of David in beatitude new arms have had to be composed for those who succeed him on earth as Crown Prince, and these are the same as his arms except that they are contained in a bordure ermine.
A good claim to be a male-line descendant of David does not imply any right or warrant to bear and use any of the coats-of-arms presented here, unless these have been granted by the lawful civil authorities or by the Holy See.
Armorial designs by Michael Petek and Ancestors of Dover Ltd, copyright Michael Petek 2002-2003
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