Belvedere College - The College Arms

The College Arms

The College Arms


The College Arms combine emblems associated with St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, St. Francis Xavier, patron of the College and Lord Belvedere to whom we owe the existence of Belvedere House. The motto Per Vias Rectas was adopted by Fr. Morris, Rector of the College, in 1934. The arms were designed by the Genealogical Office, Dublin Castle and assigned to the college on 10th March, 1962 by the Chief Herald of Ireland, Gerard Slevin, Esquire.

In heraldic terms, the arms are described as follows: Argent; two wolves counterrampant supporting a cauldron with hook sable, between three crescents reversed, two in chief and one in base gules, with the Crest: A lion rampant gules holding between the paws a crescent reversed or, mantled gules doubled argent and with the motto Per Vias Rectas. Fr. Edmund Murphy, S.J., in a typically thorough and erudite article for the 1962 Belvederian renders this in plain language.

"On the silver field two black wolves upright and facing, supporting a black cauldron with hook, between red inverted crescents two above and one below. The Crest, placed on a wreath of colours, is a red lion rampant holding an inverted gold crescent. The motto Per Vias Rectas means 'by straight ways or paths'." 

The wolves and the hanging cauldron are taken from the Loyola family arms. Wolves were common in the Basque districts of Spain and were often represented as emblems in heraldry. Fr. Murphy rejects the common belief that the name Loyola derives from the contracted Lobo - y - olla - the wolf and the pot. He cites Fr. Broderick's “The Pilgrim Years” as authority for the more prosaic explanation that ‘Loi’ is the Basque for loam, ‘ol’ is a suffix meaning 'profusion' and ‘a’ is the definite article." Hence Loyola means 'abundance of loam'. The wolves are more likely to have owed their place on the Loyola escutcheon to their roles as victims of some family hunting exploits than to any connection with the Loyola name.

The cauldron, it seems, was a symbol of hospitality. The crescents come from a certificate of arms granted to the family of St. Francis Xavier in 1535. They are said to commemorate prowess in the war against the Moors. The lion is from the arms of Lord Belvedere. 

For fuller information and an account of the gradual evolution of the College Arms until they took the form we now accept as permanent, see the article “The Belvedere Arms” by Fr. E. Murphy, S.J. in the 1962 Belvederian.

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