The arms of an archbishop consist of the shield placed upon the archiepiscopal cross. This cross, used only by an archbishop, has a smaller bar above the cross bar which supports the crucified Christ. The origin of this smaller bar lies in the representation of the small plaque, on which was written the inscription I.N.R.I. for Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews). The use of this type of cross as the insignia of the metropolitan archbishop dates back to 1232 under Pope Gregory IX. This cross is the primary symbol of the rank of archbishop.
The shield is divided in two in a heraldic device called marshalling, or the combining of two coats of arms. On the left side, we see the insignia of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The crossed arms of Christ and St. Francis of Assisi are a classical representation of St. Francis.
On the right is the personal coat of arms of Archbishop Levada. These arms are composed with the three main colors of the Portuguese flag: red, gold (yellow) and green. The olive tree is taken from the arms of the Oliveira family, from which the name of Levada is derived. Above the tree is a red cross which is common in monastic arms and is used to honor the Archbishop's baptismal patron, St. William, who was an abbot.
Above the cross is a type of hat called a galero with two tassels or fiocchi on the brim and ten suspended on each side from cords. The galero is no longer worn, but is still utilized in the arms of cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops and bishops. A red galero is the traditional symbol of a cardinal, hence the saying "receiving the red hat." The appropriate color for the galero of a patriarch, archbishop or bishop is green. The number of tassels also is a symbol of rank. Cardinals have fifteen red tassels, patriarchs have fifteen green tassels, archbishops ten green and bishops six.
Finally, the scroll at the base of the cross bears, in Latin, the motto of Archbishop Levada: Fratres in Unum,or Brothers at one. This phrase is taken from the first verse of the 133rd Psalm.