The Right Reverend Peter M Brignall,
The Third Bishop of Wrexham
Bishop Peter was born in Whetstone, North London on the 5th July 1953. The second of three sons, he was educated at St Albans Preparatory School, the Challoner School (now Finchley Catholic School) and Barnett College of further Education.
In September 1972, he entered Westminster’s Allen Hall seminary and in 1977 was ordained Deacon for the Diocese of Menevia by Bishop Victor Guazzelli at Westminster Cathedral before serving in the parish of St David in Mold, Flintshire.
On the 18th February 1978, he was ordained priest for the Diocese of Menevia by Bishop Langton Fox at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, New Southgate, London.
Between 1978 and 1980, he was assistant priest in the parish of the Blessed Sacrament, Connah’s Quay, before serving at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Llandudno. He was then appointed chaplain to the University College of North Wales, Bangor, a position he held for five years whilst also being a chaplain for the Bangor NHS Hospitals.
In 1984, he spent a year as assistant priest in the parish of St David and St Patrick in Haverdfordwest before being appointed parish priest in Knighton and Presteigne and chaplain to the Carmelite Community at Presteigne.
In 1989, he became priest of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Bangor. He served in this role for ten years, during which time he was a member of the Working Party of the Pastoral Liturgy Committee of the Bishop’s Conference, made chair of the newly formed Diocesan Liturgy Commission and, in October 1993, was awarded a Diploma in Medical Ethics from the University of Wales, Swansea. In October 1998, he was elected to the Council of the College of Health Care Chaplains (CHCC).
In February 1999 he was made Dean of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Sorrows, Wrexham, and Chaplain to the Wrexham NHS Hospitals. Two months later, he was appointed Bishop’s Advisor on Health Care Chaplaincy.
In October 1999 he was inaugurated to the Diocesan Service to Deaf People, having learned British Sign Language (BSL) to a proficiency of being able to celebrate Mass in Sign and preach. In the same month, he was also appointed to the Historic Churches Committee for Wales and Herefordshire.
He was made area Dean (Vicar Forane) of St Mary’s Deanery, Wrexham in February 2002 before being appointed Vicar General in September 2003. He was appointed to the Cathedral Chapter in December 2007.
In May 2008, he was nominated and appointed to the board of governors and Trustees of the Churches Tourism Network Wales (CTNW) and two years later, June 2010, was appointed Chair of Wrexham’s Diocesan board of Trustees.
In 2010, he was appointed to the Liturgy Committee of the Bishop’s Conference Department of Christian Life and Worship and made an Honorary Prelate with the title Monsignor. In 2011, he was involved in the Diocesan introduction and formation for the new Roman Missal. He was appointed the third Bishop of Wrexham by Pope Benedict XVI on the 27th June 2012.
On 27th June 2012 Pope Benedict XVI officially named Bishop Peter M Brignall as the Third Bishop of Wrexham in succession to Bishop Edwin Regan.
Upon hearing of his appointment, Bishop Peter said:
"after having overcome the initial astonishment of the Holy Father’s expression of confidence in me, am humbled and honoured to accept this appointment and to be able again to commit my life to the service of the Catholic Church in North Wales, a Church that now 35 years ago I chose and offered to work in and for on leaving London.”
As well as the different charges* there are a many numerological
references which are identified and explained in the following notes.
* -Knots securing the tassels: Dexter* (wearer’s right) has five
filaments, five being the number associated with places healing
(cf. five porticos of Bethesda /Bethzatha (John 5:2)). Architecturally,
Holywell’s well is distinguished by its five foils*. The sinister* has four
filaments the number associated with the Evangelists.
The number of tassels simply indicates a bishop.
* -Ermine, the use of fur indicates a mark of dignity - The chief* is red, the Latin expresses this as caput sanguineum: the significance is that of the Welsh martyrs numbered among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. The blood of the martyrs is the seedbed of the church. - The engrailed* bend*: has nine scalloped bays on the lower edge, the significance being the ninth hour (3 o’clock) the time of Jesus’ death. The upper edge having seven scalloped bays the significance being the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit or the seven Sacraments of the Church. Also and not irrelevantly that the Cathedral Church became so in the seventh year of the 20thCentury, that it was completed and consecrated in the seventh year of the previous half century, nor that seven Welsh bishops met with Saint Augustine of Canterbury to assert the distinctiveness of their church. - The triplicated gold charge* in the shield. These clarions are common to ecclesiastical arms and express symbolically the life of the Diocese responding to the call to invoke God in gratitude and praise. They are composed of gold blocks (masoned) having numerological exactness to express the date of the martyrdom of S. Richard Gwyn: The curved part being composed of 15 blocks The top part composed of 10 blocks which together give the date 15thOctober; and The curved part being 8 courses, The top part of 4 courses which give the year 84 Heraldry along with art generally has a taste for the figure three, symbolising the Trinity, the Resurrection on the third day and such like. -the cornucopia is seen in art as a prop held by angels containing creation’s fruits or in this case flowers, providing a botanical progression through the Diocese – the upper- i.the coastal area by Lymonium Lumilelaxflowered sea lavender; ii.Veronica spicata spiked speedwell for the Marches and; iii.Hieracium Snowdonensefor the dramatic gradients. the lower- iv.Snowdrops which are the analogue of the Feast of the Presentation or Candlemas, it was in the Temple that Simeon spoke of the first and prophesied Mary’s dolours (Luke 2:34-35) representing therefore the Cathedral Church’s dedication, ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’, v.a red rose, the national flower of England thereby representing Bishop Peter’s father, and vi.pinks, the national flower of Germany representing his mother.
VIVITE ET VIGILATE IN DEO – LIVE AND BE VIGILANT IN GOD is a quotation from Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) from a letter to the monks of S.Eucharius in Trier. The dots standing at the ends and between the words of the motto represent the number of Deaneries in the Diocese.
Bend – diagonal line or band. Symbolising defence or protection. The bishop is to defend the faith of the church and be (pastor) protector of the people. Blazon - formal description of a coat of arms, from which the reader can reconstruct the appropriate image. A coat of arms is primarily defined not by a picture but rather by the wording of its blazon. Because heraldry developed at a time when English clerks wrote in French, many terms in English heraldry are of French origin, as is the practice of placing most adjectives after nouns rather than before. The blazon of armorial bearings follows a rigid formula. It begins by describing the field (background). The word Blazonalso refers to the specialized language in which a blazon is written, and, as a verb, to the act of writing such a description. Charge – in heraldry a charge is any emblem or device occupying the field of an escutcheon. Chief – broad band across the top of the shield. Symbolises dominion and authority (in the case of a bishop, of his diocese) Clarion - a shrill narrow tubed trumpet. The trumpet plays a role in Old Testament theophanies and assemblies of God’s people. (Numbers 10.1, Zephaniah 1.16, Isaiah 27.13, etc.) Dexter - right Engrailed - serrated Escutcheon – shield Foil – Arc or space between the cusps of the stone tracery of a window Gules – red Or - gold Sable – black Saturna – the name given to this shape of ecclesiastical hat because of its resemblance to the planet Saturn and its rings. Sinister - left Vert – green