The Symbols of St. Bonaventure University
This description of The Motto of St. Bonaventure University was written by Fr. Thomas Plassmann, OFM in the early 1950's:
We should remember that St. Bonaventure University is perhaps the foremost institution of higher learning in the whole Franciscan Order, therefore it has a right to the oldest and most significant motto in the possession of the Order.
The motto, In Sanctitate and Doctrina reaches way back into the history of the Order although its origin and first use may not be known. Saint Bonaventure uses the inscription In Scientia and Sanctitate which approaches the above in meaning.
Speaking theologically, the motto In Sanctitate and Doctrina may be said to flow from the greatest mystery of our holy religion, namely the Blessed Trinity. I refer to the Processions and Appropriations of the Divine Persons. Here we meet the Eternal Son as the Wisdom of the Father. He came into the world to give testimony to the Truth. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son and is known as the Spirit of Love, the Dispenser of grace. (In Franciscan theology, grace is love.)
Thus the Son of God came in to the world "full of grace and truth," that is the same as Love and Wisdom. The two are closely allied, for Saint Bonaventure says that even as Love is the highest among the Virtues, so is Wisdom is the highest among the Gifts of the Holy Ghost. (For illustration see the mural above the altar in the Christ the King Seminary where Wisdom is represented by the cherub and Love by the Seraph.) [This mural no longer exists.]
Thus we have the sacred pair of Love and Wisdom, or Grace and Truth. These refer to the highest intellectual faculties of man, namely, will and intellect. Being transferred to human activity in the realm of the supernatural, we have the beautiful motto: In Sanctitate and Doctrina.
This motto has been used at St. Bonaventure for many years. It represents the ideals of the Order and should therefore be used as the motto.
The scene of the birch alley with the statue of the Blessed Virgin and in the distance the Library is expressive of what St. Bonaventure stands for, namely the Nova et Vetera. (See entrance of Library).
The birch alley was planted in the early days. It was the old entrance to the school. The statue of the Blessed Virgin used to adorn the facade of the old church; the pedestal shows the picture of the former college and encases the old door step. The library is representative of the new St. Bonaventure. While many emblems, such as the Holy Name of Jesus, might be appropriate here, we must not forget that the Immaculate Conception is the most telling of all. The foundation of St. Bonaventure reaches back to the year 1854 when bishop Timon and Nicholas Devereux met in Rome to enlist missionaries for western New York and for the university which Mr. Devereux had planned for this area. Hence the devotion to the Mary Immaculate is as old as the school.
[signed] Fr. Thomas.
Other Franciscan and school mottos are found around campus:
Deus Meus et Omnia,
My God and My All, Doyle Hall chapel
Page created by David Patt; St. Bonaventure University, for History 419 (Computer and Archival Skills for Historians),
Links in text added 12/16/03