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Bishop Peter F. Christensen

 Bishop Peter Forsyth Christensen 


December 24, 1952: Born in Altadena CA (suburb of Los Angeles, near Pasadena); to Robert Wayne “Bob” and Ann Forsyth Christensen
The fourth of eight Children (2 boys, 6 girls)
Attended St. Elizabeth Catholic School through 5th grade; then the family moved to Palos Verdes, where he attended public school
1964: His parents divorced when he was 12 years old.
1971-1981: Graduated from Palos Verdes High School, studied art and became self- employed potter; later worked for his father and his sister; managed an art supply store; moved to Minnesota; became an illustrator in advertising and production in Minneapolis
1972: His father remarried, had 2 boys
2005: His mom passed away
1981-1985: Entered St. Paul Seminary and the School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul
May 25, 1985: Ordained to the Priesthood by Archbishop John Robert Roach
1985: Became Assistant Pastor of St. Olaf
1989: Spiritual Director at St. John Vianney College Seminary on the campus of University of St. Thomas, St. Paul
1992: Fill-in when the Rector of the seminary became ill; later was appointed rector
1999: Appointed pastor of Nativity of Our Lord Parish, St. Paul
June 28, 2007: Appointed Bishop
September 14, 2007: Ordained as Bishop
September 23, 2007: Installed as Bishop
January 2009: Episcopal Adviser for the USA Council of Serra International.
October 2009: Member on the Subcommittee on the Home Missions
February 2010: USCCB Subcommittee on Native American Affairs


The right half of the crest is Bishop Peter F. Christensen’s personal arms. His arms are joined with the arms of the diocese which are on the left. Bishop Christensen’s coat of arms pays homage to St. Peter, the first bishop of Rome, and to a lesser degree, to St. Francis de Sales.

The external elements of the shield are composed of the green pilgrim’s hat with its six tassels on each side, in three rows. These are the heraldic insignia of a bishop. For his motto, Bishop Christensen selected a text from the Gospel of Matthew 16:16, “Tu es Christus Filius Dei Vivi, “ “You are the Christ, Son of the Living God.”  

The barque on the coat of arms was based on a design by Bishop Christensen, who has a background in the graphic arts. Bishop Christensen’s crest was designed by James-Charles Noonan, Jr., a well-known church historian and ecclesial heraldist from Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania. Linda Nicholson, a craft painter of the Society of Heraldic Arts in England, painted the arms designed by Noonan. 

There is also tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary evidenced in blue on the base of the shield. Besides Mary, blue also represents philosophy, symbolic of a bishop’s teaching role. Above a depiction of a wave in silver, is the barque (boat) of Peter in gold. Gold represents the first of the heavenly attributes, as well as divine wisdom and the Petrine office. The mast of the boat is in the form of a cross in gold, representing the heroic sacrifice of Christ.   This image is particularly significant, since Bishop Christensen was ordained to the episcopacy on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The sail of the boat is silver, its fullness representing the fullness of truth that the apostle Peter carried to Rome. The star on the sail is the Star of Mary, with red rays representing the graces that flow from her. Its position near the base of the mast recalls Mary’s steadfast presence at the foot of the cross.

On the top, in gold rectangle, is a circlet representing a halo of holiness to which all in the church are called. It consists of eight thorns (black for human sinfulness) tipped in red, the color of Christ’s redeeming blood. Here is a reference to the sorrows that pierced the heart of St. Francis de Sales, a saint with whom Bishop Christensen shares a deep spiritual kinship.
Behind the coat of arms is the episcopal cross, with one transverse arm. The crozier on the cross represents St. Peter and the sword St. Paul. The ruby is reminiscent of the martyrdom each saint suffered in witness to Christ.
The left side of the shield displays the arms of the diocese. The three Latin crosses represent the Blessed Trinity. They are topped by fleurs-de-lis and pointed like stakes at the bottom to honor the French missionaries who first brought the faith to the area that would become the Diocese of Superior. The blue wave-like lines evoke the waters of the Great Lake Superior.

 Calls to the Office of Bishop Christensen
are received by his secretary, Patricia Wildenberg.