Academic Symbols

The Shield

The shield of the University of Saint Joseph combines the insignia of the Sisters of Mercy, the Cross and Crown, with the Coat of Arms of Saint Joseph. The Coat of Arms, according to the medieval heralds, consisted of a blue field, upon which lay a silver carpenter’s square that overlays three silver lilies. The carpenter’s square symbolizes Saint Joseph’s occupation and is also a symbol of accuracy and truth. The lilies symbolize integrity and indicate that Saint Joseph was the earthly spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose purity is represented by the chaste white lily. Three flowers are used to represent the Blessed Trinity. However, in the University shield, the center flower is replaced by the cross which, combined with the crown, represents the Sisters of Mercy under whose sponsorship the University was founded and continues to flourish.

USJ President Medallion

The Medal

A gift from the University Alumni Association in 1984, the Presidential Medal depicts the University shield and is cast in gold. The chain that supports the medal was crafted by John Cavanaugh in celebration of the University’s 60th anniversary.

The Mace


The mace is carried in academic processions preceding the president. The mace derives from the medieval period when it was a formidable weapon used to protect a dignitary taking office or opening court. From the 16th century in England, and since the colonial period in America, the mace has become a symbol of office carried by a distinguished member of the procession.

The University of Saint Joseph mace was crafted by John Cavanaugh in commemoration of the University’s 60th anniversary. The design of the mace is derived from the educational goals of the University: to assist students in developing intellectual curiosity, a sense of integrity, and a commitment to service.

A mace is a symbol of authority. Since all authority has God as its source, the cross is the top element. It is mounted on an orb to indicate universality. Below is a sphere, a “perfect” geometric figure used here to signify integrity. Seven bands compose the sphere and are signs of the three theological virtues—faith, hope, and charity—and the four moral virtues—prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. These virtues are the essence of integrity. Within the sphere is a quartz crystal to represent multiple facets of the whole piece. The crystal signifies the search for truth as presented to us in facets, or aspects, of Total Truth. The virtues listed above find their expression in service, which is symbolized by the band of hands around a disc element that serves to support the sphere. The mace is marked with the seals of the University of Saint Joseph and the State of Connecticut.

The mace is 36 inches long and weighs eight pounds. It is hand wrought of sterling silver, and the cross is coated with 24K gold.

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