Sunday, June 24, 2012

More Vexillogical and Heraldic Musings, Tied to Today's Solemnity

Once again I muse about the vexillology and heraldry of Puerto Rico. The island was discovered by the Europeans on Christopher Columbus's second voyage. He named the island San Juan Bautista "Saint John the Baptist". That was the islands name until it got switched with the town of Puerto Rico, thus making the municipality and city of San Juan.

 San Juan's flag, which is just the Coat of arms on a white background

Blas Delgado Ortiz,  Flags of the World (  

Nelson Román, Flags of the World (

According to Municipal Legislature of San Juan, on the coat of arms you have the Paschal Lamb, which represents Christ. This also represents St. John the Baptist who said of Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." The rock that the Lamb is on has two meanings, one is it's representation of  Mt. Zion, symbol of the holy city of Jerusalem and the Church. The second meaning is it's representation of the the islet of San Juan. The stream represents the rivers of Paradise and the Sacraments, particularly Baptism. The mural crown with the five towers signifies San Juan as a city. The motto translates to "For her constancy, love and fidelity, this city is very noble and loyal."

That covers the city/municipality, now for the island. As I stated in my last post about flags and stuff every municipality in Puerto Rico has it's own flag and coat of arms, well of course the Island has it's own colors. It's flag is the all familiar red, white and blue inverted version of the Cuban flag, and has nothing to do with St. John, but the coat of arms does.

Blas Delgado Ortiz,  Flags of the World (
This one is a bit more complex than the city's flag so with little detail I'll go from top top to bottom.

The coronet, crowns, yoke, arrows, the 'F' and 'Y' correspond with the kingdom and monarchs Fernando (Ferdinand) and Ysabel (Isabella). Queen Isabella died in 1504, so it was actually Ferdinand and his daughter Joanna that granted the arms in 1511. I'm thinking they added Queen Ysabel as an honor seeing as she was the queen at the time Puerto Rico was discovered.

The towers and purple lion represent the Kingdoms of Castile and León.

The flags represent the Kingdoms of Sicily and Aragon

The Jerusalem Cross represents the Kingdom of Jerusalem

The Lamb is the same deal as on the flag of San Juan. The Lamb is on the Book the of Revelations, which show the seven seals of the Apocalypse. Which could also represent St. John the Apostle,  kind of confusing.

The green background is supposed to represent the vegetation of the island and also hope.

Finally the motto is "Joannes Est Nomen Eius" (John is his name) referring to St. John the baptist.

Coincidentally St. John the Baptist is also the patron of the diocese I'm currently in, but there isn't any heraldry  associated with him that I know of.

Sanctus Joannes, ora pro nobis.


  1. wow, interesting, I never knew the island was first named San Juan. Why did they switch names?

  2. Don't know, people probably referred to the island the capital's name, Puerto Rico, so much it stuck. We do that with the Dominican Republic, we tend to call the whole country Santo Domingo, when that's the name of the capital.