Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay retains the arms he first assumed upon becoming Eparch of the Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Saint Maroun, Australia in 2013. The arms were modified in May 2021 to incorporate golden palm leaves, on the occasion of the expansion of the Diocese to Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania.
The elements and symbolism depicted in the coat of arms are described below.
- 1. The Pontifical Mitre symbolises responsibility and dignity. The colour red signifies that the bishop is to give witness of his faithfulness to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church, even to the sacrifice of his blood in martyrdom. The seven points on the mitre symbolise the seven sacraments which institute the life of the Church, the first responsibility of a bishop, upholding at the same time the promise of eternal life.
- 2. Saint Maroun embodies the spirituality of the Maronite Catholic Church, which is based on monasticism, asceticism and the defense of the true faith. Saint Maroun is the Patron of the Diocese where the bishop serves to build his flock up in faith, shepherd them, and sanctify them, so that they may all obtain salvation.Saint Maroun is depicted carrying the Pastoral Staff which signifies the staff given by God to the bishop for the care of the flock entrusted to him, because the bishop is the Good Shepherd who, in the likeness of Christ, protects and defends his flock and leads it to green pastures.
- a. The Maronite Patriarchal Cross on Beit Maroun, carried by St Maroun, expresses the unity of our faith in the Trinity, which is symbolised by the symmetrical triangular Cross.
- 3. The Dove floating over the waters signifies the Holy Spirit, who is the giver of gifts and of heavenly graces. He has accompanied the bishop ever since his spiritual birth on the day he received the Sacred Mystery of Baptism. The Holy Spirit is the chrism with which the bishop’s hands were anointed on the day he received the Sacred Mystery of Priesthood. The Spirit has chosen him to serve the Church as bishop, successor of the apostles, in proclaiming the Mystery of Jesus Christ. The waters represent the springs of the land where the bishop was born into this world, his hometown Tannourine, in North Lebanon.Endowed with an abundance of water, just like the ‘Spring of Life’ itself, this image gives both spiritual and physical refreshment, so that those who drink of it never thirst.
- 4. The Green Cedar has three aspects:
- a. Firstly, the cedar symbolises the Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God. In the Maronite tradition, we implore her saying: “O Cedar of Lebanon, Pray for us!”. She reigns over the bishop’s heart, steadying his steps on the path to the Kingdom of God, for he has heard Our Lord Jesus Christ say: “This is your mother.”
- b. Secondly, the cedar tree is the emblem of Lebanon, from where the bishop responded to the calling of God to “Go from your country and your kindred … to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12:1)
- c. Thirdly the cedar is the symbol of the Lebanese Maronite Order, which has nurtured the bishop’s vocation to a consecrated life. The Order has been, for him, the field where he has grown and where his talents have developed, and his skills and abilities enhanced. In the Order, he learned to walk the path of sanctity, in the footsteps of those who have reached the glory of holiness: the great Saint Maroun, Saint Charbel, Saint Rafqa, Saint Nehmetallah and the Blessed Brother Estephan.
- 5. The Stars of the Southern Cross, the symbol of Australia, signify the land of the bishop’s mission and service and from where the expansion to New Zealand and Oceania was bestowed. Through faithfulness to his mission in the countries of Oceania and serving the values of the Gospel, the bishop works to meet the needs of his Eparchy and to ensure that church laws are observed, as related to worship, preaching, distributing the sacraments, and safeguarding the faith and morals of the faithful.
- 6. The Cross of our Lord in the middle of the arms represents the sign of victory against enemies. It unites the elements of the Episcopal Arms in faithfulness and openness. The Cross of the Lord is the very source of hope, our faith and our peace. Openness is represented by the arms of the Cross, spread wide, to embrace everybody in the unity of love of which the bishop has become a servant.
- 7. Openness and Faithfulness (English and Syriac Aramaic) is the motto of the bishop’s episcopate. The Maronite Eparchy of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania spreads across a vast area and therefore possesses a unique identity which has been formed by living Maronite heritage, values and traditions in a land synonymous with diversity. This identity embraces the Australians culture and values, in a spirit of enculturation and openness. These simple words – faithfulness and openness – represent the values as well as the approach of the bishop, as he conducts his ministry.
- 8. Golden Palm Leaves are representative of victory parades, across cultures. Importantly, they also point us to martyrdom, which means “witness”. We are asked to witness Christ, not only in inward hidden ways but also publicly with the way we live. The bishop, through the expansion of the boundaries of his Diocese to include Oceania – which is synonymous with palm trees – has the task of reconnecting the Maronites in this huge sprawling region, with their history, spiritual heritage, and liturgical traditions, and to understand and meet their pastoral and spirituals needs.