Cardinal O’Malley was born with the name Patrick O’Malley outside of Dayton, Ohio and grew up around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. O’Malley was leaning toward joining the Franciscan order at a young age. He entered the now-closed St. Fidelis Minor Seminary when he was 12 years old. While in school, O’Malley was reported to be very involved in theater. He took the name Sean, which is Irish for John, upon joining the order of Friars Minor Capuchin.
O’Malley is the only member of the College of Cardinals to come from the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. There are around 11,000 Capuchins worldwide and about 700 in North America. The Capuchin order dates back to 1528, when three Franciscan friars decided to return to the original ideals taught by St. Francis of Assisi. Members of the order take a vow of poverty, and choose to minister to and live among the poor. When a Capuchin is ordained as a bishop, as was the case with Cardinal O’Malley in 1992, he is released from his vows. However, O’Malley has chosen to maintain his simple way of life. He still wears the brown robe and sandals of his religious order.
Embracing New Media
Despite his vow to a simple way of life, Cardinal O’Malley has been a pioneer when it comes to embracing the internet. According to the Boston Archdiocese, in 2006, O’Malley became the first cardinal in the world to set up a blog. He has been blogging and podcasting regularly ever since. O’Malley joined Twitter in 2012 as another avenue to reach out to Catholics. O’Malley is also active in other church media, including Catholic radio and television stations.
Cardinal O’Malley is fluent in eight languages. According to Boston Archdiocese spokesperson Terrence Donilon, O’Malley speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Haitian Creole, and Latin. The Cardinal has a Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese literature.
His Coat Of Arms
Cardinal O’Malley’s coat of arms is extremely intricate and detailed. You can read all about its significance in detail by clicking here. A couple of the highlights include the Archdiocese of Boston’s arms, which is on the left side in blue. The gold cross honors the first Bishop of Boston and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, while the five wavy bars of blue and silver (white) represent Boston Harbor, and the “trimount” references Beacon Hill, Pemberton Hill and Mount Vernon.
The top right is a representation of O’Malley’s order. It depicts the crossed arms of Christ and Saint Francis, each bearing the Stigmata.
The ship in O’Malley’s coat of arms comes from the O’Malley “family” arms. O’Malley once wrote on his blog that the ship comes from the coat of arms of pirate queen Grace O’Malley, an Irish Catholic woman who turned down Queen Elizabeth I’s offer for a title of nobility in exchange for cooperation. Grace O’Malley told the queen, “In Ireland, I’m already a queen. I don’t need your titles.”
The phrase “QUODCUMQUE DIXERIT FACITE” is taken from Saint John’s Gospel. It translates to: “Do whatever He tells you.”
Bonus: His Beard
IF Cardinal O’Malley were chosen as pope, it’s believed he would be the first pontiff in more than 300 years to have a beard. Most recently, Pope Innocent XII wore a beard until he passed away in 1700.