The shield of the coat of arms is that of Cardinal Burke’s ancestors, the De Burgo or De Burgh family, Normans who settled in Ireland in the twelfth century. In Ireland the family name eventually became Bourke or Burke.
According to legend, King Richard the Lionhearted gave the arms to a De Burgo ancestor in recognition of his bravery while fighting the Saracens during the Crusades. The red cross, in fact, was the characteristic emblem of the Crusaders as they went forth to defend the Holy Land.
In the language of heraldry the coat of arms is described: “Or, a gross gules, in the dexter canton a lion rampant sable.” Or or gold is the color of the field of the arms and signifies generosity. The gross gules or red cross is a sign of fortitude and refers to the cross of Christ from which alone comes salvation. The rampant lion in the dexter canton or right quarter of the shield symbolizes courage, while its sable or black color denotes constancy.
The crest of the arms, the Roman hat (galero) with fifteen tassels on each side, red in color (symbolic of shedding one’s blood for the faith), and the Latin processional cross, are the distinctive heraldic emblem of a cardinal in the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church.
The motto is proper to Cardinal Burke and is taken from a favorite invocation which is found in a small volume containing the Gospels and Psalms, together with an appendix of prayers, given by Pope Paul VI to the 359 deacons whom he ordained to the priesthood on June 29 of the Holy Year 1975, among whom was Cardinal Burke. The invocation is: “O bone Jesu, fac ut sim sacerdos secundum Cor Tuum.” (“O good Jesus, make me a priest after Your own Heart.”) Contained in the Raccolta, the invocation refers to a text from the Prophet Jeremiah in which the Lord, through the Prophet, promises: “I will appoint over you shepherds after my own heart, who will shepherd you wisely and prudently.” (Jer. 3:15)