All Swedish universities, not least newly established ones, have their symbols. Uppsala University, the oldest, has acquired quite a number over the centuries.
The University’s seal was created as early as about 1600; such a seal was necessary for confirming letters sent from the University. This seal image, Sweden’s oldest academic symbol, is now the University’s logotype and is in wide use as such. The motto GRATIÆ VERITAS NATURÆ means ‘truth through the grace of God and through nature’. The rays of the sun symbolise God, and the globe nature.
The early 17th century also saw the introduction of the two silver spires, which were devised to express the University’s independence. The are now kept in a display case at the Museum Gustavianum. The museum also exhibits the wooden staff that was crafted by the artist Jean Eric Rehn in the middle of the 18th century and that was originally an officer’s symbol, used by the commander of the University’s guard detail. These three objects are often brought out for use in ceremonies. In processions the staff comes first, carried by the officer called the pedell, followed by the spires carried by the two cursors. Together these three, all attired in top hats and tailcoats, with yellow vests, precede the rector magnificus; they can be said to be the honor guard. On such occasions the Vice-Chancellor wears the Vice-Chancellor’s chain, a gift to the University from King Oscar II on its 400th anniversary in 1877.
The Vice-Chancellor’s chain, a gift to the University from King Oscar II on its 400th anniversary in 1877.