MN Arms


Arms of the
State of Minnesota



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."[Ladyslipper]

Loon carrying baby loonCypripedium 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:

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

OSB Index | Saint John's Abbey


/ © Copyright 1995-2009 by Richard Oliver OSB, MN 56321-2015 /