By heraldic tradition, the arms of the bishop of a diocese are joined with the arms of his jurisdiction. Thus, the left side of the shield represents the Diocese of Sacramento, and the right side represents the personal symbols of Bishop Soto.
The arms of the Diocese of Sacramento (left side) are composed of a blue field with gold that appears to be draped from the top of the design. This appearance, combined with the gold chalice and corporal, reminds us of the Blessed Sacrament in a tabernacle representing the name of the See City of the diocese, Sacramento. Gold is the color of liturgical feasts celebrating the divinity of Our Lord and blue is the time-honored color of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who carried the Divine Child in the tabernacle of her womb. The gold color further reminds us of the foundations of the Diocese of Sacramento, established in the midst of the Northern California Mother Lode, by the first Bishop of Sacramento, Patrick Manogue, himself originally a pioneer gold miner. These arms of the Diocese, while simple, are replete with significance.
The Episcopal heraldic achievement, or the bishop’s coat of arms, is composed of a shield, with its charges (symbols), a motto scroll and the external ornaments. The Shield, which is central and most important feature of any heraldic device, is described (blazoned) in 12th century terms, that are archaic to our modern language, and this description is done as if being given by the bearer with the shield being worn on the arm. Thus, it must be remembered, where it applies, that the terms dexter and sinister are reversed as the device is viewed from the front.
The personal arms of Bishop Soto (right side) were adopted when he became Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Orange and reflects his personal heritage, his life as a priest, and now as a bishop. The major portion of the design, seen in the lower two-thirds of the shield, is silver (white). Issuant from the base of this field is a green mound that is charged with a gold (yellow) scallop shell. On the mound are three orange trees, Proper, that is “as they appear in nature.” The conjunction of these symbols, cants (that is “plays on”) the Bishop’s name for the Spanish word “soto” means a hill or low-mound that is a grove or glen.
In this case the trees of the grove are orange trees, for His Excellency was a priest of the Diocese of Orange, and appointed Bishop there. The scallop shell is a traditional representation of St. James, the Apostle, whose name, in a variant, is Jaime. To the upper left (to chief dexter) is a blue seven pointed star taken from the mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe to reflect the Bishop’s deep devotion to the Virgin Mary, in this title, but also that all that he does as a bishop will be under her watchful protection.
The upper one-third of the shield, known as a “chief,” is gold and has displayed upon it symbols of the Bishop’s ministries. This symbol is used to represent the intermingling of multi-cultural heritage of the Diocese of Orange and this charge is placed between two stylized red rose buds, emblematic of Blessed Juan Diego, for it has been from within the Bishop’s own Hispanic heritage that he has ministered in the multicultural environment.
For his motto, His Excellency, Bishop Soto has selected the opening words of the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World “Gaudium et Spes.” These words, “joy and hope,” as seen in the design in Spanish “GOZO Y ESPERANZA,” reflect the Bishop’s belief that in the call of Jesus Christ, everything is done with Christ’s Joy in the Hope of all that He has planned for those who love him.
The device is completed with the external ornaments which are a gold processional cross, which is placed in back of the shield and which extends above and below the shield, and a pontifical hat, called a “gallero,” with its six tassels, in three rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of bishop by instruction of The Holy See of March 31, 1969.