Key Symbols in the Dominican Tradition


This badge was brought to Australia by the Dominican Community which came from Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, in 1867. In their tradition there were various versions of the emblem incorporating the same elements eg colours, globes, etc. This depiction was drawn in the first Annals on their arrival. It remained the crest of some of the older communities and of the schools founded before that time.

Chronology of the Crest



  • Early in the 15th century the Order adopted a single black and white shield, representing joy and penance.
  • In the mid 15th century the 8-point star was added, representing compass points. The star is also a symbol of light and divine revelation. Dominicans are committed to bringing the light of truth to the whole world.
  • Later in the 15th century, the amount of black on the shield was lessened to allow for the addition of the palm branch and lily. The palm, a symbol of Christian martyrdom, also represents those who give witness of their lives to God The lily is considered a symbol of purity and dedication.
  • After the Reformation, in the 17th century, when the Order was trying to regroup, the dog appeared on the badge, holding a burning torch in its mouth. The dog, lighting up the world with truth, was an ancient rendering of a vision that Dominic’s mother was said to have experienced. The dog was also a play on words of ‘Domini-canes’ – Dominicans – in translation from the Latin – hounds of the Lord.
  • Later in the century the book of the Scriptures was added to remind Dominicans that the message of the Gospels cannot be taught unless it has first been studied.
  • Around the same time the crown was moved from the body of the shield to the top, and a glove of the world was added in its place, representing the peoples of the world whom members of the Order were sent to evangelise.
  • In the 18th and 19th centuries, the badge underwent various changes, depending on the circumstances and particular spirituality of a group, congregation or province. The cross of the traditional shield now appeared protruding from the back, since there was no room in front, and became an appendage from which to hang the rosary beads. The word ‘Veritas’ was also added.
  • The badge became so cluttered with symbols that many branches of the Dominican Family have adopted the simpler earlier badge.

(E Hellwig OP, 2003)