The Seal of the Basilica of Saint Mary
Motto: The motto Omnes Cum Petro ad Jesum per Mariam (All with Peter to Jesus through Mary) bespeaks the loyalty of the faithful to the Holy See and the Magisterial Teaching of the Church. It professes reliance to Our Lady as the way to Her Divine Son. Presented on a white banner bordered in red, it represents the sacrifices of the parish faithful across the two hundred and twenty-three years of parish life.
Ombrellino: Surmounting the shield, the Ombrellino is an umbrella of red and gold, which are the traditional Papal colors. It is commonly opened whenever a Pope visits a Basilica. It represents a unique relationship between the Basilica and the Holy Father in Rome.
Cross-Keys: 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 on the left alludes to the Church’s power in the kingdom of heaven. The silver key on the right indicates the spiritual authority of the papacy on earth. The mechanisms are turned up towards the heavens and the grips turned down into the hands of the Pope. The presence of the keys symbolizes the continuous connection of the Basilica to the Holy See.
Design of the Shield: The central element of the seal is a shield divided into four distinct sections, which are symbolic of key aspects of the parish’s history. The colors of the shield are blue and white and symbolize the mantle of piety (blue) and purity (white) of the Mother of God. Similar colors appear in the flag of the Commonwealth of Virginia and in the Seal of the Diocese of Arlington.
- Upper Right: The monogram represents “Ave Maria” (Latin for “Hail Mary”) and symbols her patronage of the parish. This monogram pays tribute to the prayer of the faithful, echoing the “Hail Mary” prayed across the span of the two millennia in the Church.
- Bottom Right: The English Frigate (circa 1650) symbolizes the City of Alexandria, the sailing vessel by which Catholics sailed to the New World, and the church sailing over the seas of time with Peter at the helm. The Ark and The Dove were the two famous ships, chartered by Cecil Calvert to transport 140 colonists to the shores of Maryland. Similar ships brought the Jesuit founders of the parish, as well as many Irish and Scottish merchants, to the Port City of Alexandria.
- Upper Left: The stars on a blue field are taken from the Seal of the Diocese of Arlington. The 10 smaller stars recall the historical significance of the Commonwealth of Virginia as the 10th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. The star in the center represents the Blessed Virgin Mary’s patronage over the Diocese and the Basilica. In a more profound way, this signifies her Queenship over Heaven and Earth.
- Bottom Left: The monogram “IHS” has been used historically to symbolize the Holy Name of Jesus Christ. Taken from Greek, it is an abbreviation of the name IHΣΟΥΣ (Jesus). Central to the seal of the Jesuit order, it symbolizes their founding of the parish in 1795. It pays tribute to the founding pastors who came from the Society of Jesus.