Parish of St. Michael and All Angels

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Civic heraldry of South Africa > Ecclesiastical heraldry of South Africa


Denomination : Anglican
Place : Observatory, Cape Town

Arms of Parish of St. Michael and All Angels

Official blazon

  • Arms: Per chevron enhanced or and azure; a chevron enhanced wavy on its lower edge azure; in dexter chief an anchor erect fouled proper with, its tail resting on the sinister fluke, a dolphin azure; in sinister chief five mullets azure, four large and one smaller, arranged as the Southern Cross; in base the figure of the Archangel Michael, vested gules with a surcoat argent charged with a cross azure, sleeved also argent, and armoured argent around the waist and on the feet and lower limbs, statant over a dragon prone vert, langued and armed gules, which he is slaying with a spear.
  • Crest: Upon a wreath of the colours, a falcon statant before a chalice or and holding with its dexter claw a wooden staff proper ensigned of a cross botony or, to which is attached a banner of St George (argent, a cross gules).
  • Motto: Quis ut Deus?


St Michael’s lies in the part of the suburb of Observatory, which before 1913 belonged to the Woodstock municipality. The anchor-and-dolphin combi­nation represent the municipality of Woodstock (incorporated into Cape Town in 1913), which featured this combination in the crest of its coat of arms.

The anchor reflects that the area is in a port city, and harks back to the present provincial and the old Cape Town coat-of-arms, and the fact that St Michael is also a patron saint of mariners.
The dolphin was often substituted for the whale in religious art of Jonah and the whale. Therefore, it became associated apparently with rebirth and Christ’s resurrection according to Scriptures. The dolphin drawn with an anchor represents alternately the Christian soul anchored by Christ’s teaching and guidance, or Christ Crucified.

The stars of the Southern Cross reflect the fact that Observatory takes its name from the South African Observatory, and less importantly, that the parish is located in the Southern Hemisphere. This serves to distinguish the arms from St Michael’s parishes elsewhere.

The chevron has a dual symbolism rooted in nature: its sharp angle represents Devil’s Peak, below which Observatory is situated, while its wavy edge represents the Liesbeeck River, which runs northward towards Table Bay at the eastern edge of Observatory.

The falcon has been used to represent the nearby historic Valkenberg estate, to which was added the communion chalice, and the traditional Anglican flag.

Blue is the traditional colour of St Michael, as it often is of port cities generally. To this green and gold was added, being the colours used by schools in Observatory. Green could also be taken to represent the green belt (around the river, Malta Park, Hartleyvale) in the suburb.

The motto translates as: “Where without God?”

Literature: Images and information by Matthew Wallace-Gross

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