The Crest of The University of Notre Dame Australia



Notes on the Crest of
The University of Notre Dame Australia


1. The central symbol is an open book. It is a symbol common to many universities. It represents the tradition of research and teaching. It speaks of inherited wisdom and its contemporary expression.

2. What makes this symbolic book distinctive is that it is The Bible. It bears witness to the Judeo-Christian tradition.

3. Specifically, it is open at the beginning of the Gospel of John and quotes - in Latin - the first words of the Prologue: “In principio erat Verbum.” “In the beginning was the Word.” The Latin text was chosen as it recalls the common international language of the medieval universities, which arose out of “the Catholic mind of Europe”.

4. At one level these words were chosen as they remind us that everything that exists begins as an “idea”, and that ideas find expression in symbols: spoken and written words as well as mathematical, scientific and musical terms.

5. But John's hearers would have noticed the echo of the opening of the Book of Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”.

6. As it is used by the Gospel writer, the text goes on to proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, is the very “Word” of God - the Divine, Eternal Idea, through whom all was made in the beginning and who now offers redemption, reconciliation and hope to creation.

7. In choosing this text, the University proclaims that all its searching for truth and beauty has as its essential reference point the Divine, Eternal Word become man - Jesus Christ.

8. The “waves” symbol below the book represents both the port of Fremantle where the University began and also Australia, a nation with no land boundary with any neighbour. As our National Anthem puts it: we are “girt by sea”. As it has grown, the University is now “girt by sea” at Broome and by the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

9. The star above the book is expressly the seven-point Federation star. From the beginning the University presented itself as Notre Dame Australia.

10. The dark “Oxford” blue badge, which frames these three symbols, is linked to the circle bearing the University's name by means of a light “Cambridge” blue Greek cross.

Notes written by Fr. John Neill op
Trustee of the University 1990-2009