Bishop Joseph Nunzio Latino is the 10th Bishop of Jackson. A native of New Orleans, Bishop Latino was born on Oct. 21, 1937. He is the son of John Peter Latino and Theresa Rizzuto Latino. After completing his seminary studies and training at St. Joseph College and Seminary in St. Benedict, La., and Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Bishop Latino was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New Orleans by Archbishop John Cody in St. Louis Cathedral on March 25, 1963.
During his priesthood, Bishop Latino served in parishes in New Orleans, Metairie, Houma and Thibodaux. When the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux was established in 1977, he remained a part of the new diocese and served in many capacities there including: rector of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, defender of the bond, chancellor, and Vicar General. In 1983 Pope John Paul II named him a Prelate of Honor with the title of monsignor.
He was appointed 10th Bishop of Jackson on January 3, 2003, and was ordained a bishop and installed on March 7, 2003 in the Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle in Jackson.
By Deacon Paul J. Sullivan
The episcopal heraldic achievement of Bishop Joseph Latino’s coat of arms is composed of a shield, with its charges (symbols), a motto scroll and the external ornaments. The shield, which is the central and most important feature of any heraldic device, is described (blazoned) in 12th century terms, that are archaic to our modern language, and this description is done as if being given by the bearer with the shield being worn on the arm.
Thus, it must be remembered, where it applies, that the terms dexter and sinister are reversed as the device is viewed from the front. By heraldic tradition, the arms of the bishop of a diocese, called the “Ordinary,” are joined to the arms of his jurisdiction, seen in the dexter impalement (left side) of the shield. In this case, these are arms of the Diocese of Jackson.
The external ornaments are the processional cross, which extends above and below the shield, and a pontifical hat, called a “gallero,” with its six tassels, in three rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of bishop by instruction of The Holy See of March 31, 1969.
The arms of Bishop Latino are divided into four sections that looks like an “X,” heraldically known as a “saltair,” with gold and red vertical bars in the top and bottom and silver fields on either side, are the ancient arms of the Kingdom of Sicily, used here to reflect Bishop Latino’s Sicilian heritage.
In the base the gold bars have been replaced by a golden carpenter’s square, issuant from the sides, to honor the bishop’s baptismal patron, St. Joseph. This arrangement is used in the arms of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux where Bishop Latino was serving as vicar general when he was called to be Bishop of Jackson.
In the silver fields on either side of the design, the black displayed eagles of the Sicilian arms have been replaced by a blue fleur-de-lis and a blue magnolia blossom to reflect the heritage that has come to the bishop from New Orleans, where the bishop was born, and the surrounding region
The pattern of blue and silver in the lower left half of the shield is first of all a reference to the Mississippi River, which has given its name to the state which is served by the diocese. It is also a proclamation of Catholicism’s insistence on the necessity of baptism, wherein we die and rise with Christ, so as to enter into his glory.
The cross potent is a symbol of the power latent in the Cross of Christ, bespeaking the triumph of the Gospel over the paganism of the early inhabitants of the region embraced by the diocese. This symbolism is enhanced by the gold field, which bespeaks divinity, thus referring to the Son of God, the object of the Catholic Faith.
For his motto, Bishop Latino has selected the phrase “UT UNUM SINT,” which is Latin for “That all may be one.” This phrase, taken from St. John’s Gospel (John 17:11) expresses Bishop Latino’s profound belief that as each of us in one in Christ by our baptism, so may we all be one in the brotherhood of belief in him who came to save the world.