The Archdiocese of Chicago Coat of Arms contains several symbols that represent the Catholic presence and tradition in Chicago--from the Catholic French missionaries who were the first to explore the area to the great Chicago fire.
The use of the phoenix, a bird rising from the ashes to live again, is doubly significant. It pays tribute to the citizens of Chicago who rebuilt their city after the great fire of October 8, 1871. It also symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Written across the breast of the phoenix are the Greek letters iota, eta and sigma, which form the monogram of Jesus in the Greek language, symbolizing the Cathedral of the Holy Name, the Cathedral Parish of the Archdiocese of Chicago. The first Gothic structure of the Cathedral was destroyed in the great fire of 1871 and itself rose from the ashes to be rebuilt in 1875.On the wings of the bird are two fleur-de-lis, the French form of the lily, which symbolize the exploration of the Chicago area by two Catholic French missionaries, Joliet and Marquette, in 1673