Bellarmine’s seal consists of the coat of arms and university motto framed within three circles, the band, which states the institution’s name, Bellarmine University; location, Louisville and Kentucky; and founding date, 1950. The university’s logo uses the coat of arms, without the three circles, along with the institution’s name and Latin motto.
The shield has four quadrants created by a cross, emblematic of the university’s founding in 1950 by the Archdiocese of Louisville in the distinguished Catholic tradition of higher education, the oldest continuing tradition of higher education in the history of the western world. Bellarmine continues to be inspired by the excellent values in its founding Catholic tradition, in the inclusive spirit of Thomas Merton.
At the top center of the shield appears the helmet of the Bellarmine Knight, the official mascot of the University. This mascot was established by founding President Alfred Horrigan who was enchanted with the Arthurian legend and the quest for the Holy Grail. The helmet references the head armor of the beautiful campus sculpture by Bob Lockhart of the Bellarmine Knight. The helmet’s decorative plume is a dove, reflecting the primacy of peace in the world. Below the shield is the university’s motto In veritatis amore – In the love of truth.
At the junction of the four quadrants, there appears a fleur de lis, the emblem of the beautiful City of Louisville, the proud home of Bellarmine University. In the upper left quadrant is a pineapple. A traditional feminine symbol of hospitality, the pineapplere calls the Tuscan warmth and hospitality of the distinguished Montepulciano house of Jesuit, Cardinal, and Saint Roberto Bellarmino, the University’s namesake and patron saint. By extension, the pineapple also represents the hospitality, cura personalis, concern for each person as an individual, and each individual as a whole person that characterizes teaching, learning, and life at Bellarmine University and which welcomes all persons to Bellarmine.
In the upper right quadrant appears the “Ursula Laurel” tree derived from the Ursuline coat of arms and symbolic of the privileged and fortunate participation of Bellarmine University in the legendary Ursuline education tradition, a privilege made possible by the openness and willingness of Ursuline College to merge with Bellarmine in 1968.
The lower right quadrant of the shield is adorned with a blazing torch bringing the light of truth and love to show the way through, above, and beyond the darkness of ignorance and hatred. While a traditional university symbol throughout the ages, the torch also appears, prophetically and coincidentally, in the family coat of arms of Bellarmine’s founder, Archbishop John Floersh, and Bellarmine’s President, Dr. Joseph McGowan.
In the lower left quadrant of the shield are five stripes. The stripes represent five important values in the Catholic tradition and the Bellarmine educational experience:
- The intrinsic dignity and value of every human being;
- our responsibility to educate the whole person – mind, body, heart, and soul;
- the mystery, interconnectedness, and ongoing nature of God’s creation and “the hidden wholeness of things;”
- the importance of both faith and reason as ways of seeking the truth, and of the compatibility of these ways of knowing;
- the call to each of us to develop our gifts and abilities to the fullest to give glory to God, to serve those in need, and to make the world a better place.
The Bellarmine Seal was originally developed in the shape of an oval in 1953 by Sr. Mary Rademaker,then chair of the Ursuline College Department of Art. The seal was reconfigured into a perfect circle in 1990 to improve legibility and presentation.
In 2000, the name change to Bellarmine University necessitated corresponding changes in the official seal of the University. President Joseph McGowan took this occasion to authorize the draft of a more complete coat of arms, the most important features of which have been to fill in the two previously vacant quadrants of the coat of arms with the Ursula Laurel, symbol of St. Ursula, the Ursuline Sisters, and Ursuline College which merged with Bellarmine in 1968; and with the inclusion of the five symbolic bands in the other quadrant. The seal was further refined in 2009.