BR. KOLBE: Thank you for listening to Echoes from the Bell Tower.

BR. JOEL: Stories of wit and wisdom from Benedictine monks who live, work and pray in southern Indiana.

BR. KOLBE: I'm Br. Kolbe Wolniakowski.

BR. JOEL: And I'm Br. Joel Blaize.

BR. KOLBE: We are still polishing up the next episode. In the meantime, enjoy this story from Archabbot Kurt Stasiak.

BR. JOEL: When Archabbot Kurt Stasiak was elected as abbot last June, he had to have a coat of arms designed. He worked with Brother Martin Erspamer, who is an artist and monk of Saint Meinrad, to create the design. Here's Abbot Kurt to explain the process.

ARCHABBOT KURT: My coat of arms. I had never had to think about a coat of arms before I became abbot, but that's part of the tradition. We have a Saint Meinrad coat of arms, which reflects our history with the ravens and the sea voyage over from Switzerland, but the abbot's coat of arms can be a very personal coat of arms.

I went to Brother Martin, and I said, "Brother Martin, I've got a pretty good idea. I want it to be as simple as possible, but I want it to be as significant as possible in terms of what I see as two great influences or two great moves in my life."

Well, two of those great things were I am German by blood. I was born in 1952 and born to German parents. At that time, my mother and my father were having a very, very hard time feeding all three of us. I had two brothers, a year and a half older and about four years older than I. This is in post-World War Germany.

Tragically, six weeks after I was born, my birth father died and my German mother simply could not make ends meet. Fortunately, they had met a young American Air Force officer and his wife, so about a couple of months after that, they did the necessarily paperwork and all that and I was adopted as their son and took their name, Stasiak. About a year later I guess, we moved back to the United States. That's where I grew up with a U.S. Air Force military background.

So trying to put all that together, trying to want to have as simple a coat of arms as possible, but one that was, in a sense, as revealing as possible.

Saint Meinrad's institutional logo has Meinrad's two ravens on it. My personal abbatial logo also has two birds on it, but two birds of very different colors. The first one is the German eagle. It's the black, spread-out wing eagle. Then the second bird on my coat of arms is the stylized United States Air Force logo, which is slightly in back of the German eagle. 

The intention there, or the suggestion is, that I'm the German eagle, the first major event, and then you've got this U.S. Air Force logo that seems like it's gently wrapping a couple of its wings around the German eagle is a suggestion of caring for, or taking over of, embracing the German eagle. That's what's behind that.

BR. JOEL: Don't forget to check out the picture of the coat of arms on our blog at