Fontbonne University Archives

Discover resources on the history of the unviersity.

University Seal

fontbonne seal

The Fontbonne University seal contains elements that are representative of the University and the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

The fleur-de-lis, a French word for lily, is the symbol of the French royal family.

In the seal, the fleur-de-lis symbolizes the French origin of the Sisters of St. Joseph, founded in France in 1650.

The six fleurs-de-lis in the seal represent the first six Sisters who came to the United States in 1836.

The lily is also the signature of St. Joseph, spouse of the Virgin Mary, foster father of Jesus, and patron saint of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

The Latin words, "Virtus et Scientia," indicate the nature of Fontbonne's mission and can be translated as "virtue and knowledge," "valor and erudition," and "religion and scholarship."

Fontbonne Heritage: The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

Because mission is so important at Fontbonne, it is important to know how we began. This video will take you back to the roots of the sisters and explain why the environment at Fontbonne is so different from other institutions.

The Fontbonne Song

by Mary Pius Neenan, CSJ and John Joseph Bezdek, CSJ

 O Fontbonne, we love you, fontbonne frock 1927
Your purple and gold,
We pledge our allegiance
Which ne’er shall grow cold,
But strong as the granite
That builds your firm walls
Shall lead us all Godward

Whatever befalls
In youth’s glad fair Maytime
We came to your arms,
Your love has caressed us,
Has shielded from harms.
Your standards have formed us
Your faith has inspired;
We found in your portals
Ideals we desired.

Fontbonne Traditions

Graduation Chain Ceremony

In 1927, the first class of Fontbonne began a tradition that is carried on today. Originally connected to the shovel used for the Fontbonne’s ground-breaking in 1924, a bronze chain bears the year of the first graduating class at its head, and each subsequent graduating class is connected by square links inscribed with each graduation year. A new link is added each year at commencement ceremonies to continue this unique part of the University’s history.

Ringing of the Bell

The women of the Class of 1949 donated a bell for the Ryan Hall Chapel.  For many years, the bell was rung for a variety of occasions including daily prayers. It is believed that the bell was also rung at each Commencement, with the number of rings coinciding with the year of the graduating class (60 rings in 1960, 74 rings in 1974, and so on.)

In 2000, a new tradition was started and the bell was rung one time for each graduating student as a way for Fontbonne to celebrate each individual student’s effort and success. Now, all graduating students are invited to participate in the ringing at the conclusion of their commencement ceremony.

Fontbonne Purple and Gold

According to the 1946 Student Handbook, the purple was taken from the episcopal colors of Archbishop John J. Glennon, S.T.D., of St. Louis, Missouri, and he gold from the papal colors of the Holy Father, the late Pope Pius XI.

The Founding Spirit Statue

Reaching Out to Higher Things | Dedicated May 20, 2000

Commissioned to commemorate the 350th anniversary of our the Sisters of St. Joseph and Fontbonne College's 75th anniversary, The Founding Spirit reaches upwards, holding a book to the heavens. She represents the Sisters of St. Joseph, teachers and mother St. John Fontbonne, who re-founded the order after the French Revolution.

The bronze sculpture was created by Rudolph Torrini, who was an internationally recognized artist and professor emeritus of art at Fontbonne. A number of Torrini's work can be found in the area, including the Italian immigrant sculpture at St. Ambrose Church on the Hill and that of Pope John Paul II in front of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

Fontbonne History

Fontbonne Charter

As Strong as the Granite

Vitality and Vision:

75 Years of Fontbonne History

campus photo

The complete text of Sister Jane Hassett's essential history is now available online (with a new comprehensive index).

View the Catalog Record.
Call Number: LD1809.F657 H37

The Good Fountain

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University Archives

Jack C. Taylor Library • 6800 Wydown Blvd. • St. Louis, MO 63105
Founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
t: 314-889-1417 • f: 314-719-8040
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