Explanation of the Coat of Arms of Bishop Peter Muhich
In designing the shield, a bishop has an opportunity to depict various aspects of his own life and heritage and to highlight particular aspects of Catholic faith and devotion that are important to him. A diocesan bishop shows his commitment to the flock he shepherds by “impaling” his personal coat of arms with that of the diocese.
The coat of arms of the Diocese of Rapid City is represented on the left side of the shield. Three black triangular peaks, called piles, represent the Black Hills of South Dakota. They are peaked with shamrocks, a reference to Saint Patrick, the patron of the church in Lead, which served as the first cathedral of the diocese from 1902-1930. The gold background symbolizes the gold mined in the Black Hills and the wavy white line represents the Missouri River, which forms the eastern border of the diocese. The green region at the base of the shield represents the rich ranch land on which many South Dakotans rely for their livelihood. It is charged with a golden circle reminiscent of the Lakota people and their belief in the interconnectedness of all created things.
The personal coat of arms of the bishop is represented on the right half of the shield. The top left section of the coat of arms of Bishop Muhich has a blue background with a star, representing Our Lady, who is the patroness of both the Diocese of Duluth (Our Lady of the Rosary) and the Diocese of Rapid City (Our Lady of Perpetual Help). It also represents Our Lady of Fatima, whose memorial on May 13th is also his birthday. The red keys represent his namesake, Saint Peter. The coat of arms of the Diocese of Duluth is represented in the lower blue section with the yellow cross. The miner’s lantern represents the Iron Range of Minnesota, where Bishop Muhich grew up.
The motto is inscribed on the scroll below the shield. The phrase is taken from the words of the Lord to his apostles at the Last Supper, after he had washed their feet: “Exemplum Dedi Vobis” (“I have given you an example.” John 13:15)