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The Ateneo De Manila Seal

A contemporary color rendering of the Ateneo de Manila's 1909 seal on display at the University Archives.
A contemporary color rendering of the Ateneo de Manila's 1909 seal on display at the University Archives.
n 1859, the Escuela Municipal carried the arms of the city of Manila, granted by no less than King Philip II of Spain. By 1865, along with the change of name, the school’s seal had evolved to include some religious images, such as the Jesuit monogram IHS and Marian symbols. In 1909, the Ateneo’s Golden Jubilee, a revised seal was introduced, with clearer Marian symbols and the current motto, Lux in Domino.

For 20 years, the 1909 seal was used. It was a mark of clear distinction and historical prestige. But except for the Marian overtones, and a small IHS monogram, the seal contained little that spoke of the Ateneo’s thriving Jesuit academic tradition.

A rendering of the 1865 Ateneo Municipal de Manila seal, based on a seal stamped upon the title page of an 1865 Ateneo philosophy book Compendium Logicae et Metaphysicae.

Father Rector Richard O’Brien, S.J. introduced a new seal for the Ateneo de Manila’s Diamond Jubilee in 1929. This seal abandons the arms of Manila and instead adopts a design that is thoroughly Ignatian and Jesuit in character. It is the seal the Ateneo uses to this day. 2004 marks the 75th year of this seal.

The Ateneo de Manila seal is defined by two semi-circular ribbons. The crown ribbon contains the school motto, “LUX-IN-DOMINO”, and the base ribbon contains the school name, “ATENEO DE MANILA”. These ribbons define a circular field on which rests the shield of Oñaz-Loyola: a combination of the arms of the paternal and maternal sides of the family of St. Ignatius.

Above the shield is a Basque sunburst, referring to Ignatius’ Basque roots, but also representing a consecrated host. It bears the letters IHS, the first three letters of the Holy Name of Jesus in Greek. an adaptation of the emblem of the Society of Jesus.

Many people erroneously believe that the Ateneo de Manila seal features the letters JHS. This misunderstanding stems from the peculiar rendering of the letters in the Ateneo de Manila seal. The letter I is drawn in a florid calligraphic style and conforms to the circle’s shape. It therefore appears similar to a J.

The seal’s colors are blue, white, red, and gold. In traditional heraldry, white or silver (Argent) represents a commitment to peace and truth. Blue (Azure) represents fortitude and loyalty. Red (Gules) represens martyrdom, sacrifice, and strength. Gold (Or) represents nobility and generosity.

White and blue are also the Ateneo’s school colors, the colors of Our Lady. Red and gold are the colors of Spain, home of Ignatius and the Ateneo’s Jesuit founders. Finally, these four tinctures mirror the tinctures of the Philippine flag, marking the Ateneo’s identity as a Filipino University.


Three images from top to bottom:
1.  The original drawing of the Ateneo de Manila  seal.
2.  Fr. Richard O'Brien, third American rector of the Ateneo de Manila, who transferred the Ateneo to Padre Faura and introduced this seal. 
3.  The first published appearance of the current Ateneo seal on the frontispiece of the 1929 graduation issue of The Atenean.  2004, the 145th year of the Ateneo and diamond jubilee is also seal's own diamond jubilee.

Ateneo seal

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