Bishop-elect in South Sudan Explains Symbols, Motto of His Episcopate ahead of Ordination

Coat of arms of the Bishop-elect of South Sudan's Rumbek Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop-elect for the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek in South Sudan has explained the symbols and motto that will define his Episcopate as represented in his coat of arms.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa last week, Mons. Christian Carlassare explains the meaning of the Church and African symbols as well as the African people and colors on his coat of arms that combine to make his Episcopal Motto: “Omnes unum in Christo (you are all one in Christ Jesus)”.

“The coat of arms takes the shape of an African shield,” Mons. Carlassare says in his statement that he shared with ACI Africa March 14, days before leaving his native country of Italy for South Sudan to prepare for this Episcopal Ordination. 

The Bishop-elect whose Episcopal Ordination is scheduled for Friday, March 25, says that on his coat of arms, traditional spears that have traditionally accompanied African shields have been replaced by a pastoral staff and a walking stick.

“Instead of the two traditional spears, the pastoral staff and the walking stick of the pilgrim are crossed behind the coat,” he says, and adds, “The traveling stick has a gourd tied on it, which is used to carry milk for the journey.”


The Italian-born member of the Comboni Missionaries (MCCJ) who was appointed Bishop on 8 March 2021 further explains, “The path of Christian life starts with the water of baptism, which indicates our conversion and profession of faith.”

Mons. Christian Carlassare in Rome. Credit: Courtesy Photo

“This faith is nourished with bread: bread to eat and the Eucharistic bread, which is Jesus Christ who comes to us and accompanies us along the way,” Mons. Carlassare says, and adds, “The Eucharistic bread is bread broken and given to us, as Jesus gave us his life, and calls us to be bread broken and given to all our brothers and sisters.”

He further says that “the broken bread also represents our mission. And, as St Daniel Comboni used to say, the work of God, namely the mission of evangelization, starts at the foot of the cross.”

“The cross of suffering can be an obstacle to continue on our faith journey but may also become a ladder to climb further,” Mons. Carlassare whose Episcopal Ordination was initially scheduled for Pentecost Sunday, 23 May 2021 says in reference to the cross on his coat of arms.

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His Ordination was postponed to 2022 after he was attacked and shot in both legs on 26 April 2021. Hours later, the member of the Comboni Missionaries was airlifted to Kenya for specialized treatment, and weeks later, proceeded to his native country of Italy.

In the statement shared with ACI Africa on his coat of arms, Mons. Carlassare says, “The three figures on the right side represents three African people: a woman, a man and a child.”

“The man wears a white headband and the woman white pearls to signify the dignity and liberation of the African people, and the commitment of each Christian to bring that liberation to others,” he explains.

The Bishop-elect further explains, “The child reminds us of our vocation to help others grow in Christ. They also represent the Holy Family – Jesus, Joseph and Mary – as the Cathedral of Rumbek stands under their patronage.”

The woman, the man, and the child on the coat of arms, he says, “may embody every family which is a domestic Church.”


The three African people, Mons. Carlassare continues, “also help us recall the African saints and martyrs, such as St Josephine Bakhita, Fr. Barnaba Deng, Fr. Arkangelo Ali, catechists and other Christians who offered their life for the faith and the salvation of other people.”

The 44-year-old Bishop-elect goes on to provide details of other symbols on his coat of arms saying, “On the left side there is the biblical white dove carrying an olive branch, symbol of peace and reconciliation.”

“This message tells the people of South Sudan that God wishes to give us his peace and urges all to leave behind past divisions and violence,” Mons. Carlassare says, adding that God “invites us to give peace a chance.”

“Any kind of discrimination or marginalization is a deliberate denial of the unity which we all have in Christ,” Mons. Carlassare further says, and goes on to provide details about his Episcopal motto.

He says, “The motto OMNES UNUM IN CHRISTO is taken from St Paul to the Galatians 3:28, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’”

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Mons. Carlassare shared with ACI Africa details of his coat of arms hours after meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Pope Francis with Mons. Christian Carlassare in Rome. Credit: Vatican Media

He told ACI Africa that the Holy Father had encouraged him to take up his Episcopal Ministry with fortitude.

“The Pope said, ‘DO NOT FEAR’ and gave his blessing,” Mons. Carlassare told ACI Africa March 14, adding that during the meeting, Pope Francis “also showed his closeness to the people of South Sudan and said he looks forward to the visit of July.”

The Holy Father is scheduled to visit South Sudan in his two-African-nation pastoral trip that is to begin in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on July 2.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.