THE AUGUSTINIAN EMBLEM
The emblem of the Order of Saint Augustine is a flaming heart pierced by an arrow (1) on the background of an open book. The open book suggests a dedication to intellectual searching or study; the pursuit of knowledge, both divine and earthly.
Saint Augustine is often portrayed holding a flaming heart to indicate his great personal charity and the fact that he preached love of neighbour as the way to serve God. In the emblem of the Order it reminds Augustine's followers that they must practice and preach charity toward God and neighbour. The arrow piercing the heart and the book represents the Spirit of God piercing our minds and hearts and calling us to a continual growth of faith, hope and love in our lives.
The Order does not have an official motto, but often you see the Latin words Tolle Lege used like a motto. Those words mean Take! Read! Which are suitable as an encouragement to study. They have, however, an historical connection with the conversion of Saint Augustine (2). During a period of his life when he was in a confused mental state, trying to take the final step of becoming a Catholic, he was in a garden with his friend Alypius, reading the Letters of St Paul. He had put the book down and walked away; suddenly he became aware of some children nearby repeating those words Tolle Lege over and over again; he rushed back to where he had put down the book; he took it up and opened it at random and read from St Paul's Letter to the Romans Chapter 13 verses 13 and 14 (3). Immediately all his hesitation vanished and he was able to make the decision to become a Catholic.
(1) This imagery is inspired by a statement Augustine makes in the Confessions: Book IX 3 "With the arrows of your charity you had pierced our hearts, and we bore your words within us like a sword penetrating us to the core".
(2) Confessions Book VIII.29
(3) Let us walk becomingly as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in debauchery and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and as for the flesh, take no thought for its lusts".