Bishop Iffert’s coat of arms combines a design of his own choosing with the coat of arms of the Diocese of Covington.
The diocesan design on the left hand side of the shield was commissioned by Bishop William T. Mulloy following the 1953 elevation of Covington’s Cathedral to the status of a minor basilica. It was devised by William F. J. Ryan of New York, N.Y. and West Chatham, Mass.
Imposed on the blue upper portion is a gold fleur-delis within the arms of a silver crescent moon. Both are symbols of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Their juxtaposition in this fashion indicates her Assumption, or, as the artist conceived it, “the Blessed Virgin elevated above the sub-lunary world.” It is under this aspect that Mary is patroness of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption. Below it is a red cross on a white field. Pointing upward on the vertical beam of the cross is a gold sword, the symbol of St. Paul, patron of the Diocese of Covington.
The right hand side of the shield identifies Bishop Iffert and reflects his hopes for his episcopal service to the Diocese of Covington.
A green background symbolizes hope, evokes the fertile land, and calls to mind the bishop’s childhood on a family farm. It also alludes to the coat of arms of the Diocese of Belleville, which shows a beautiful city atop a green hill. A wavy, silver barrulet bisects the green field, representing a river. The Ohio River forms the northern border of the Diocese of Covington and the southeastern border of the Diocese of Belleville, connecting the diocese where Bishop Iffert will exercise episcopal ministry to the diocese where he served as deacon and priest.
The upper portion features an eight-pointed star within the arms of a carpenter’s square. They honor Our Lady and St. Joseph the Worker. This title for St. Joseph especially emphasizes the dignity of those who labor. The star also appears on Pope Francis’ coat of arms. Together, the symbols attest that Bishop Iffert was appointed by Pope Francis in the Year of St. Joseph.
The lower portion features a bundle of wheat bound in the middle as at harvest. This symbol carries multiple meanings. First, Bishop Iffert is from a region in southern Illinois nicknamed “Little Egypt.” The grain calls this to mind because “the whole world came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain” (Gen 41:57). Harvest imagery also alludes to Thanksgiving Day in the United States. The bishop was born on Thanksgiving Day. Most significantly, the wheat reminds the Christian of the bread that becomes the Body of Christ in the Eucharist. Christ makes himself and his self-emptying love fully present to his people in this central act of worship and thanksgiving.
Above the shield is a gold cross surmounted by a green pontifical hat called a gallero. The cross and hat with six tassels on either side portray the rank of a bishop. The phrase on the scroll beneath the shield, “In all things give thanks,” (Thes 5:18) is Bishop Iffert’s episcopal motto. It reflects his conviction that turning to Christ with rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving — especially encountering Christ in the midst of the Church and receiving him in the sacrament of his Most Holy Body and Blood — is God’s will for Christians in every circumstance.
The personal Arms of Bishop Iffert were devised by Rev. Guy Selvester, Washington, New Jersey, in consultation with the Most Rev. John C. Iffert, 2021.