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Description of the Basilica of Saint Andrew Seal

November 27, 2023

  • Motto: INVENIMUS DOMINUM (We Have Found the Lord) is a reference to John 1:41. After the encounter with Jesus, Andrew seeks out his brother Simon and says, “We Have Found the Messiah”. The motto is a declaration of both discipleship and mission: encouraging everyone who enters the Basilica of Saint Andrew to seek an encounter with the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and bring him to others.


  • Ombrellino: Surmounting the shield is an Ombrellino. The Ombrellino is an umbrella or a canopy of red and gold stripes—the traditional Papal colors. It is a visible bond of the unique relationship between the Basilica of Saint Andrew and the Holy Father in Rome.


  • Crossed Keys: Two keys—one gold and one silver—project outward from behind the shield. The keys are representative of Papal authority. The keys refer to the promise of Christ to Peter, “I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19). The gold key signifies the Church’s power to bind and to loose in the Kingdom of Heaven. The silver key represents the pope’s spiritual authority on earth. The presence of the keys on the seal symbolizes the connection of the Basilica of Saint Andrew to the Holy See.


  • Design of the Shield: The colors and symbols featured in the design of the shield represent specific elements about the life of the Apostle, Saint Andrew. The seal also reflects the history of the Basilica of Saint Andrew within the Parish community, the Diocese of Richmond, and the universal Church.


  • Blue Paneling: The background of the upper part of the shield is blue in color to depict both the domed apse of the Basilica of Saint Andrew which is painted in azure, and the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Roanoke Valley. The color red is used to depict the blood of the martyrs that converted the multitudes to Christianity. The Apostle Saint Andrew was martyred for the faith.


  • Saltire or Saint Andrew’s cross: The Saltire cross—also called the St. Andrew’s Cross—dominates the lower part of the shield. It represents the death of Saint Andrew, who was crucified on an X-shaped cross. St. Andrew’s Cross within the shield is rendered in gold to symbolize the apostle’s sharing in Christ’s victory over sin and death. The pool of red surrounding the Saltire cross recalls the blood shed by Christ and Andrew, the apostle.


  • Dogwood Flower: In the Commonwealth of Virginia the state flower is the dogwood tree. Its blossom consists of four petals that form the shape of a cross, with the edge of each petal bearing a red imprint indicative of blood. The dogwood flower serves as a perennial reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary.


  • Trinity Knot or Triquetra: Three interlacing and pointed ovals, joined in a circle, elegantly symbolize the foundational Christian belief: God is one in three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Celtic origin of the Triquetra, or Trinity Knot, honors the Irish and Scottish families that settled in the Roanoke Valley and founded Saint Andrew parish.


  • The Three Stars: Basilica Saint Andrew belongs to the Diocese of Richmond. The ecclesiastical shield for the Diocese of Richmond includes the Silver Star which honors the Blessed Virgin Mary—Star of the Sea (Stella Maris). Instead of a single star, the three silver stars signify the Most Holy Trinity.


  • Black-and White Tracing: Thin parallel tracks border the stars, recalling the significance of railroads in the Roanoke Valley. Many immigrant Catholic families moved to the area to work for Norfolk & Western Railroad and contributed to the building of the parish of Saint Andrew.


Information courtesy of Basilica of St. Andrew.