The Salesian Coat of Arms, appeared for the first time in a circular letter of Don Bosco’s on 8th December 1885.
The shining star, the large anchor, the heart on fire symbolize the theological virtues; the figure of St. Francis de Sales recalls the Patron of the Society; the small wood in the lower part reminds us of the Founder; the high mountains signify the heights of perfection towards which members strive; the interwoven palm and laurel that enfold the shield either side are emblematic of the prize reserved for a virtuous and sacrificial life. The motto Da mihi animas, caetera tolle, (Give me souls, take away everything else) expresses every Salesian’s ideal.
The Logo of the Salesians of Don Bosco is made up of two superimposed images: in the background a stylised “S” (Salesians) in white is formed within a sphere like a globe marked to the right and left by two cuttings between the hills/dunes. The second image is in the centre of the globe bridging the “S” road. This is an arrow pointing upwards resting on three perpendicular legs on top of which are three closed circles making a stylised image of three people: the first of these in the middle and taller than the others is the point of the arrow, and the other two beside it appear as it were to be embraced by the central figure. The three stylised figures with the arrow pointing upwards can also be viewed as a simple dwelling with a sloping roof (the arms) and with pillars holding it up (the bodies of the three people).
Inspiration for Salesian Logo
The main sources of inspiration for these elements are the articles in the SDB Constitutions: 7, 21 and 38-40:
a) Don Bosco our model
“The Lord has given us Don Bosco as father and teacher. We study and imitate him, admiring in him a splendid blending of nature and grace.
He was deeply human, rich in the qualities of his people, open to the realities of this earth; and he was just as deeply the man of God, filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and living “as seeing him who is invisible”. These two aspects combined to create a closely-knit life project, the service of the young. He realized his aim with firmness, constancy and the sensitivity of a generous heart, in the midst of difficulties and fatigue. “He took no step, he said no word, he took up no task that was not directed to the saving of the young… Truly the only concern of his heart was for souls.” (C21).
b) Presence among the young marked by reason, religion and loving kindness
“Don Bosco has handed on to us his Preventive System as a means for carrying out our educational and pastoral service. “This system is based entirely on reason, religion and loving kindness.” Instead of constraint, it appeals to the resources of intelligence, love and the desire for God, which everyone has in the depths of his being.
It brings together educators and youngsters in a family experience of trust and dialogue. Imitating God’s patience, we encounter the young at their present stage of freedom. We then accompany them, so that they may develop solid convictions and gradually assume the responsibility for the delicate process of their growth as human beings and as men of faith (C 38).
c) Active journey involving the young
“The practice of the preventive system demands a fundamental disposition on our part: an empathy with the young and a willingness to be with them: “Here in your midst I feel completely at home; for me, living means being here with you”. We are actively present among youth in brotherly friendship, helping them in their efforts to grow in what is good, and encouraging them to cast off every form of slavery, so that their weakness may not be overcome by evil. This presence affords us a true understanding of the world of the young and unites us with them in all the healthy aspects of their restless energy. (C 39).
d) A home to meet at education and evangelisation
“Don Bosco lived a pastoral experience in his first Oratory which serves as a model; it was for the youngsters a home that welcomed, a parish that evangelized, a school that prepared them for life, and a playground where friends could meet and enjoy themselves” (C 40).
e) Effectiveness of the Salesian charism in the world and in history
“Our vocation calls us to be deeply united with the world and its history. Open to the cultural values of the lands in which we work, we try to understand them and make them our own, so as to incarnate in them the message of the Gospel. The needs of the young and of working-class areas, the desire to work with the Church and in her name, inspire and shape our concrete pastoral activity so as to bring about a more just world and one of greater brotherhood in Christ.” (C 7).