Ceremony of Creation of an Officer of Arms
From very early times it was the custom to create Officers of Arms, that is to say Kings of Arms, Heralds of Arms and Pursuivants of Arms, by Letters Patent followed by a special ceremony of creation, somewhat akin to a baptism or a sacerdotal ordination. These creation ceremonies thenceforth set the Officer aside from other men, making his person sacrosanct while clothed in his tabard and almost became a sort of eighth Sacrament. In 1408 Anjou King of Arms related how he could recall the coronation of Charlot as King of Arms of France by King Charles V (ob. 1380) : “a noble and great occasion.” He added that he had heard that the King of England made even more of the crowning of his own chief herald.
In England they were still anointing new Officers of Arms with wine in the traditional way in the early 18th Century, when however the practice fell into desuetude. The Earl Marshal agreed to revive the custom in 1953 and plans were laid but were not in fact implemented. More recently in 1976 John Charles Grossmith George was created Garioch Pursuivant to the Countess of Mar in Scotland using the traditional ceremony.
Current ceremony of the Aragonese College to create an Officer of Arms are based on that latter ceremony and on that of Charles Mawson (Blanch Lyon Pursuivant, 1680; Rouge Croix Pursuivant, 1686; Chester Herald, 1690) and other earlier examples as well as various Aragonese precedents of recent decades.
Nowadays an Officer of Arms is of no particular consequence in every day life and his position gives him no special precedence in society but, when he dons his tabard, he immediately becomes the person of the Prince whose tabard he wears. Therefore anyone touching him touches his Prince. For this reason tabards are only worn when strictly necessary and the wearer of it keeps his distance from people, lest unknowingly they insult his Prince by touching his person.
During the creation ceremony the new Officer is clothed with his tabard; he has a white wand placed in his hand; and he is anointed on the forehead with wine from a silver cup while the traditional words are said – “Receive this Tabard and as you are invested in it may the Lord our God invest you with knowledge and wisdom” … ” receive this Wand of Office and may God, from whom all good counsels and just works proceed, direct and assist you in the Office now given you. Be strong and of good courage” … “accept this Cup in token of your commission”. For his part he will undertake “to bear no slander and retail no falsehood” and “to serve only the cause of true love and chivalry” and to “ever abide by the Ancient Laws of Arms”.