Remembering Cardinal Cornelius Sim
Herald – June 6th 2021
A Tribute from Thomas Madanan
Regional Commission for Social Communications
RCSC Pays Tribute To HE CORNELIUS CARDINAL SIM
The Bishop’s Coat of Arms
The coat of arm is a unique heraldry or armorial insigna, usually on a shield, that presents identity of the holder of the coat of arms and what the holder hopes to achieve. It is a sign of the holder’s rank.
With his elevation to the College of Cardinals, Bishop Cornelius Sim has updated his bishop’s coat of arms slightly. The biggest change is an emphasis on the colour red (or scarlet) of a cardinal. The red color of the hat and the number and color of the tassels signify the rank of Cardinal.
Prior to Second Vatican Council, the Pope would present a red-tasseled galero to new cardinals. This custom was discontinued in 1969 and the investiture now takes place with the scarlet biretta. In ecclesiastical heraldry, however, the scarlet galero is still displayed on the cardinal’s coat of arms. Cardinals had the right to display the galero in their cathedral, and when a cardinal died, it would be suspended from the ceiling above his tomb. Some cardinals will still have a galero made, even though it is not officially part of their apparel.
Hanging from the cardinal’s hat are 30 red tassels, in five rows, 15 on each side. There is also a gold (yellow) processional cross above the shield. The cross on a bishop’s coat of arms has one bar; an archbishop’s cross has two bars. The left side of the shield bears the arms of his jurisdiction while the right side bears the things personal to him.
In the lower left section of the shield there is a golden embattled fess to represent the desert of Numidia with the dunes and an over standing sun with the monogram of Christ (IHS), rising in the red sky of the desert dawn. In heraldry, the sun symbolizes the Providence and the monogram means the Christocentric concept of the Providence.
But one may ask, what has the desert of Numidia got to do with Cardinal Sim’ coat of arms? The answer lies in the fact that Cardinal Sim is the Titular Bishop of Putia in Numidia. In ancient times, Putia in Numidia was in the region of Northern Africa (in present day Algeria and parts of Western Tunisia). St Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, was primate. From his see in Hippo, which is now the modern city of Annaba in Algeria, St Augustine used to give advice to the bishops of Numidia.
In the lower right side of the shield several symbols are presented; the silver and blue wavy bars, a boat and a silver star.
The silver and blue wavy bars represent the sea. Cardinal Sim was born in Seria, a town fronting the sea, the South China Sea.
St Augustine and his mother St. Monica, which is also the name of Bishop’s Cornelius’s mother, left their country by boat to reach Italy where St Augustine journey to full conversion to Christianity. St Monica died in Ostia, close to Rome where she is buried. In a stained glass window of a Roman church, St Monica is painted with a boat close to her. The boat in the coat of arms symbolizes Christ’s apostolic vicar formally reaching the shores of Brunei Darussalam.
A silver star is one of the many ways to represent the Virgin Mary (Stella Matutina, Stella Maris, etc.) and reminds the Church of the Immaculate Conception where Cardinal Sim was ordained as priest.
Below the shield is the motto in Latin: “Duc In Altum” in English “Put Out into the Deep”, the first part of the verse from St Luke’s Gospel 5:4. The complete verse being: “When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” The motto serves as the essence of what Cardinal Sim wishes to achieve for the Church in Brunei Darussalam.
The sea, the boat, the star and the motto also appear in the crest of the Apostolic Vicariate in Brunei Darussalam.