The episcopal heraldic achievement, or bishop’s coat of arms, is composed of a shield, that is the central and most important part of the design and tells to whom the design belongs, the external ornamentation, that tells the owner’s position or rank, and a motto, placed upon a scroll.
For an auxiliary bishop, a fully empowered bishop but without territorial jurisdiction, the shield of his arms is composed completely by his personal design, in this case they are the arms of Bishop Myron J. Cotta.
The shield is divided into two main portions by an inverted chevron. Above the chevron, on a blue field, is a golden (yellow) ancient Greek amphora, an earthenware vessel used for the transport and storage of fluids, such as oil. This amphora is emblazoned with the letters “SC,” that form the classic abbreviation for the church’s sacred, holy oil known as “Sacred Chrism.” This composition is employed because the Bishop’s first name, Myron, is the Greek word for chrism.
The line of division of the shield, the inverted chevron, is reminiscent of a carpenter’s square thus honoring the bishop’s second Baptismal patron, Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus and husband of Mary. The inverted chevron is also employed to represent the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Valley, of California where Bishop Cotta was born, received his Sacraments and lived most of his life.
Below the chevron, on a gold (yellow) field are three blue letters; an “I,” a “H” and a “M.” These stand for the Immaculate Heart of Mary to whom Bishop Cotta has very special devotion. Because there is no specific arrangement of this monogram for Mary, it is rendered here as would be on other pieces, where the more important name, like the surname, is enlarged and placed between the smaller initials, as for Christian or personal names.
For his motto, His Excellency, Bishop Cotta has chosen the phrase “GRACE AND MERCY,” for this sums up all that God’s relationship with His People is all about. To reflect the bishop’s heritage, as an Azorean, the motto is rendered in Portuguese.
The achievement is completed with the external ornaments that are a gold (yellow) processional cross, that extends above and below the shield, and a pontifical hat, called a galero, with its six tassels, in three rows, on either side of the shield. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of bishop by instruction of the Holy See.