The Most Reverend Luis Rafael Zarama, Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta (Episcopal Vicar Region I)


“God is Love”

Biographical Dates:

Born: November 28, 1958
Ordained priest: November 27, 1993
Ordained bishop: September 29, 2009



Bishop Luis Zarama was born in Pasto, Colombia on November 28, 1958.  He attended the Conciliar Seminary in Pasto, Colombia where he graduated from high school. He attended the Marian University in Pasto, earning a degree in Philosophy and Theology.  He also attended the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia earning a degree in Canon Law.  He was a Philosophy and Theology professor at the Carmelites School, the Learning School and the Colombia Military School for eleven years.

Bishop Zarama was ordained to the Roman Catholic Priesthood for the Archdiocese of Atlanta on November 27, 1993.  His first assignment was as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Atlanta.  He served as a member of the Vocations Committee.  Bishop Zarama was the first Hispanic priest to be named pastor in the Archdiocese of Atlanta to St. Mark Catholic Church in Clarksville, GA and St. Helena Mission in Clayton GA.  He was a board member of Habitat for Humanity in Habersham County in 2005.  Bishop Zarama was named Vicar General of the Archdiocese in April of 2006. He was named Chaplain of His Holiness with the title of monsignor by Pope Benedict XVI on March 7, 2007.   In 2008 he was appointed to serve as the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese’s Metropolitan Tribunal.  He is also a member of the Archdiocesan Personnel Review Board.

On July 27, 2009, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, named him, as Titular Bishop of Bararus and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.  He was ordained to the Episcopacy on September 29, 2009.  He remains Vicar General of the Archdiocese.

Coat of Arms

Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama’s Coat of Arms

The impalement of the personal Arms of Bishop Zarama with those of the Archdiocese of Atlanta was undertaken by Deacon Paul Sullivan of Saunderstown, Rhode Island.


Azure, upon a chevron of double width Or a semé of crosses Gules; to chief dexter a rose of the second and to sinister a lily Agent; in base a lion’s hear couped of the second.

The episcopal heraldic achievement or bishop’s coat of arms is composed of a shield with its charges (symbols), a motto scroll and the external ornamentation. The shield, which is the central and most important feature of any heraldic device, is described (blazoned) in 12th century terms, that are archaic to our modern language, and this description is presented as if given by the bearer with the shield being worn on the arm. Thus, where it applies, the terms dexter and sinister are reversed as the device is viewed from the front.

For his personal arms, His Excellency, Bishop Zarama has adopted a design to reflect his life and ministry as a priest.

On a blue field is displayed an extra wide chevron of Gold (yellow). This device gives the illusion of two mountains; a gold one and a blue one. The gold mountain (the chevron) is charged with a scattering (semé) of red crosses to represent the Bishop’s home city of Pasto, in southwestern Colombia, which is known as “The Theological City.” The lower mountain (part of the blue field) has a golden lion’s head to represent the Evangelist, Saint Mark, who is the titular patron of the parish in Clarkesville, Georgia, on a mountain, where Bishop Zarama served as pastor.

Above the chevron are a gold rose Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, also known as “The Little Flower,” and a silver (white) lily for Saint Joseph, the Foster Father of Jesus, who have served as Bishop Zarama’s particular patron throughout his life as a priest and now as a bishop.

His Excellency, Bishop Zarama has selected for his motto the Latin phrase “DEUS CARITAS EST.” This phrase “GOD IS LOVE”  is the title of an encyclical by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, and it sums up in a succinct statement all that the Church and Christianity are to be all about . . . sharing the love of God.

The achievement is completed with the external ornaments which are a gold episcopal processional cross, that is placed in back of and which extends above and below the shield, and the pontifical hat, called a “gallero,” with its six tassels, in three rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of bishop by instruction of The Holy See of March 31, 1969.

by: Deacon Paul J. Sullivan

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