Emmaus Hall, the graduate theology center on the campus of Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota, features a stained glass representation of the arms of the State of Minnesota. It was created ca. 1950 by an, as yet, unknown heraldic glass artist.
Blazon: The Great Seal of the State of Minnesota surmounted by a seven-pointed star or within a roundel azure radiant flanked by Cypripedium reginae proper, the seal is garbed proper on both flanks, stalkends crossing at the bottom over a scroll containing the words, Quo sursam velo videre, beneath the scroll is a golden meadowlark affrontée and overt proper.
The latin motto, "Quo sursum velo videre," the third word a misprint for volo, meaning "I wish to see what lies beyond," was a part of the seal of the Territory of Minnesota, but was replaced by Governor Sibley with "L'Étoile du Nord."
Cypripedium reginae, also know as the pink and white moccasin flower, or "Showy Lady Slipper," was adopted as the official state flower of Minnesota on 19 February 1902. The meadow lark was the state bird until replaced by the common loon (Gavia immer) in 1961. (Listen to the call of the loon [.wav 2K].)
A larger version of the stained glass better shows the window's details. Here is a large black and white line drawing of the Great Seal.
Historical Symbolism of the Seal
The sun, visible on the western horizon, signifies summer in the northern hemisphere. The horizon's visibility signifies the flat plains covering much of Minnesota. The Indian on horseback is riding due south and represents the great Indian heritage of Minnesota. The Indian's horse and spear and the pioneer's axe, rifle and plow represent tools that were used for hunting and labor. The stump symbolizes the importance of the lumber industry in Minnesota's history. The Mississippi River and St. Anthony Falls are depicted to note the importance of these resources in transportation and industry. The cultivated gound and the plow symbolize the importance of agriculture in Minnesota. Beyond the falls, three pines represent the state tree and three great pine regions of Minnesota: The St. Croix, Mississippi, and Lake Superior.
History and Description of the Great Seal
Even though Minnesota became a state in 1858, the territorial seal remained in use until 1861 when the Minnesota legislature approved Governor Sibley's design for a state seal. The design was revised in 1983 to read as follows:
- The seal is composed of two concentric borders. The outside forms the border of the seal and the inside forms the border for the illustrations within the seal. The area between the two borders contains lettering.
- The seal is two inches in diameter. The outside border has a radius of one inch and resembles the serrated edge of a coin. The width of the border is 1/16 of an inch.
- The inside border has a radius of three-fourths of an inch and is composed of a series of closely spaced dots measuring 1/32 of an inch in diameter.
- Within the area between the borders, "The Great Seal of the State of Minnesota" is printed in capital letters. Under that is the date "1858 [date admitted to the Union]," with two dagger symbols separating the date and the letters. The lettering is 14 point century bold.
- In the area within the inside border is the portrayal of an 1858 Minnesota scene made up of various illustrations that serve to depict a settler plowing the ground near the falls of St. Anthony while he watches an Indian on horseback riding in the distance.
- For the purposes of description, when the area within the inside border is divided into quadrants, the following illustrations should be clearly visible in the area described:
- In the upper parts of quadrants one and two, the inscription, "L'Étoile du Nord" is found on the likeness of a scroll whose length is equal to twice the length of the inscription, but whose ends are twice folded underneath and serve to enhance the inscription. The lettering is seven point century bold.
- In quadrant two is found a likeness of a rising sun whose ambient rays form a background for a male Indian in loincloth and plume riding on horseback at a gallop. The Indian is sitting erect and is holding a spear in his left hand at an upward 60 degree angle to himself and is looking toward the settler in quadrant four.
- In quadrant one, three pine trees form a background for a picturesque resemblance of St. Anthony Falls in 1858.
- In quadrants three and four, cultivated ground is found across the lower half of the seal, which provides a background for the scenes in quadrants three and four.
- In quadrant three, a tree stump is found with an axe embedded in the stump and a period muzzle loader resting on it. A powder flask is hanging towards the end of the barrel.
- In quadrant four, a white barefoot male pioneer wearing clothing and a hat of the period is plowing the earth, using an animal-drawn implement from that period. The animal is not visible. The torso of the man continues into quadrant two, and he has his legs spread apart to simulate movement. He is looking at the Indian.
Arms photographed by Richard Oliver, June 1995.
Sources of Information
Encyclopedia of Minnesota, (Encyclopedia of the United States), New York: Somerset, ©1993.
Minnesota. Secretary of State. Color representation of the State Seal.
The Minnesota Almanac, Minneapolis: R. A. Jones, 1977-.
Minnesota Northstar. Official Website for the State of Minnesota.
-----. Minnesota Government Topics.
NETSTATE.COM. "Learn about the 50 States." Great Seals, flags, statutes, symbols, history, almanacs, and more.
Velde, François. "Heraldry of the States in the Union."
Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. 2d ed., 1909. NY: Haskell, reprint 1969, 145-146.
More Heraldic Stained Glass from Emmaus Hall
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