Signs and Symbols of Sebastinian

by Rev. Fr. Lauro V. Larlar, OAR

Every school has its own values, beliefs, traits and characteristics, which help define its culture. Though there is one umbrella and general spirit breathing through all the school, each institution has its own peculiar characteristics and its own invisible spirit, which must be captured in signs and symbols. These signs and symbols represent the epitome of what San Sebastian College – Recoletos stands for.

SSC-R Manila’s signs are the little doors, windows and benchmarks of the institution. Its symbols show the way. They also carry implied and expressed invitation for the beholders to participate in and be part of that symbol.

Symbols like the cross invite us to partake of and be part of the crucifix and the saving grace of Christ.

As true Sebastinian spirit is transcendental—one that you cannot see but is present. However, through the signs and symbols presented here, you can distinguish him from others.


The SSC-R Manila is traceable to a Marian origin. If you look at the façade of San Sebastian Church and study the image of Mt. Carmel, you will easily discover the “coat of arms” of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel embedded on the world on which the image stands. The San Sebastian Basilica existed ahead of the school and the Basilica became the home of the image of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. When the school was formally instituted and a logo was needed, the academic community must have taken its inspiration basically from the “coat of arms” of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the symbol of St. Augustine.

SSC-R Manila coat of arms

The “coat of arms” of our Lady of Mt. Carmel has a mountain, a cross and the three stars in the corner allcontained in circular figure representing the world. The stars represent the virtues of the followers of Mary.

The artist/illustrator of the SSC-R Manila logo in his creative design must have substituted the stars with the initials of San Sebastian College (SSC) and the mountain with a cloverlike leaf. Another change is that the world becomes a small circle representing the Sebastinian community.

The heart, flame and arrow in the present logo of San Sebastian College-Recoletos Manila identified with St. Augustine’s inspiration and teachings. The flaming heart shot with an arrow supported by a book is symbolic of our Augustinian heritage.

The banner carrying the words CARITAS et SCIENTIA is symbolic of Augustine’s educative principle that KNOWLEDGE should become scaffolding of love.
The circle bearing the name of San Sebastian College bordered by wavy lines is symbolic of the unity of the school community in the midst of restlessness – of being restless pilgrims whose heart remains restless until it rests in God.

The small circle shadowed by straight line is symbolic of our search for interiority—of being faithful to our Recollect charism. The lines serving as shadows symbolize the difficulty of returning to the interior of man.

In the center of the small circle is a shield bearing the initials of San Sebastian College with the letter “C” of College resting on the cloverlike leaf symbolic of the Triune God. This is to showthat the school, with God as its foundation, protects the interior of man and of the community.
Members of the school community work hard but silently for God and for country—confident that we are protected by the Triune God and inspired by St. Augustine and St. Sebastian.


San SebastianSan Sebastian was a trusted Roman soldier, a faithful Christian in the midst of the paganistic Roman military. He helped the Mother Church and his fellow Christians, and nourished his faith even in the midst of pagan officers. A silent worker and a 3rd century saint, his presence is still very strongly felt today.

Before the Augustinian Recollects came to the Philippines, San Sebastian was already popular all over Europe. At that time, it was the practice of the missionaries who came to this country to carry the name of well-known saints. And the Augustinian Recollect missionaries brought in the name of San Sebastian.

Words like Sebastinian and Baste originated from San Sebastian. Sebastinian means belonging to San Sebastian College-Recoletos while Baste is a corruption of the word Sebastinian.

San Sebastian represents the value of silent hard work. Like him, every Sebastinian should manifest the virtue of working hard without the need to tell everybody of what he has done or accomplished.

Lastly, every Sebastinian true to the saint must continue to safeguard his faith especially in the midst of a consumeristic society. As one write-up aptly states: “Live thy, as Christian among pagans… unyielding to the demands of the world… strong and steadfast in whatever kind: suffer for thy faith… derision and exclusion from society enjoyment… if such be necessary to confess in word and deed…”


heart book arrowThe symbol is based on the scripture and the writings of St. Augustine, “your love pierced our heart like an arrow…” (Confession IX, 2,3).

The heart represents love, especially the love of God for men. The heart symbolizes the core of the person, the very heart of the being.

The arrow symbolizes the word of God. God is the perfect shooter. He hits right in the heart. He speaks to us in the heart. And when He speaks, He seems to wound us.

That is why every Sebastinian must realize that his being a child of God carries with it, pain, sufferings and sacrifices – that God speaks to him through words that seems like arrows. Not that God wants to inflict pain on us per se but sometimes God seems to hurt us to remind us that He is around. As the saying goes, God chastises the one He loves.

The flame represents human restlessness. St. Augustine says, we are restless pilgrims whose hearts remain restless until they rest in God.
The book symbolizes the scriptures and strict adherence to the teaching and the authority of the Church.

The symbol challenges every Sebastinian to be like St. Augustine to go back to the heart and listen to the Word of God and find refuge in the teaching of the mother Church remembering that the heart is restless until it rest in God.


caritas et scientia“Caritas” means love or charity. “Scientia” means knowledge. According to St. Augustine, knowledge is only the scaffolding of love. Thus, whatever knowledge is gained, it should be used to show grater love especially to the weak and the needy.

“Let knowledge be used as a kind of scaffolding to help build the edifice of love and understanding which shall endure even after knowledge itself shall be destroyed.” (Epistolae 55, 21, 39)
(See also St. Augustine’s Caritas et Scientia written by Rev. Fr. Julius Marcos, OAR.)


Taken from “Augustinian Recoletos”, it is a sign of fidelity to Augustinian teachings and strict religious life. The OAR constitution enumerates four characteristics of the Order namely contemplative, communitarian, apostolic and Marian. To the members of the schools, to be contemplative may mean living prayerful secular life – a personal relationship with God. “A life for God, with God and in God, the very life of God Himself.”

“Communitarian” means “to love each other as children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ with one heart and one mind on the way to God.”
“Apostolic” means, “to serve others and work in order that all men may love God.”

The word “recoletos” which originally meant, “reformed” came about during the 16th century when the Reformation was string in the Church and one of the reformed Orders was the Augustinian Order.

“Recollect” means to come home. So as a school community, we are home with God in our work and prayers. We are at home with our service to others especially the weak and the needy and at home with Mary, our comfort and joy in our restless journey.

The challenge of the symbols is that every Recollect must search for God and surrender himself to Him.


stagThe use of the stag as SSC-R symbol started when SSC-R, originally an exclusive school for boys, joined the National Collegiate Athletic Association. In religion, the stag is a symbol of moral ideals. It was used by the early Christians as an emblem of Christ and as a figure of the apostles. It became the symbol of administration of baptism because of its capacity to carry heavy load or object. It was also used as the symbol of the catechumen who aspired for martyrdom

Some of the Holy Fathers presented the Stags as model of what a Christian should do when a pagan threatens him. That is to run away fast to God. A fitting comparison because aside from swiftness coupled with quietness in the pursuit of goals, the stags is gifted with speed and nimbleness to evade dangers.

In our time, we are in the midst of disco houses, beer gardens, gambling dens, and movie houses – pagan showcases that threaten the soul. Like a stag, a Christian should be quick to avoid the practice and agencies when they become moral threats.

In the same manner, without the hunter knowing it, the stag would lead the hunter out of the jungle into a cleared area. A Christian should do no less. Even as he evades the temptations of the consumeristic and materialistic establishments, he should guide the owners and consumers out of the jungle of sin to the cleared area of salvation.


Literally, it means, “brave” a word taken from “bravura” which means “courage”. But courage does no mean being the “siga-siga” type who does not run away from a fight. It means evading or running away from dangers of his soul. A coward runs away with a trembling heart and a broken spirit. A courageous man runs away with a firm heart, a strong faith and triumphant soul, and we salute this type of man. BRAVO!


The colors Red and Gold were adopted as to identify San Sebastian College during the National College Athletic Association. Red symbolizes sacrifice, martyrdom, bravery and baptism. The element of Gold represented by its shimmering color, on the other hand, stands for endurance and the perennial quest for high standards – inner strength in the quest for excellence – symbolic of the loyal dignity of a true Christian.
Thus, the Sebastinian renders sacrifices and, in a way, martyrdom, for he submits himself to the pains of rigorous training and discipline in his quest for glory. This entails bravery not only in fighting for victory but in accepting defeat graciously as well; and endurance to be able to withstand pain.


White polo shirt and dark pants for male and checkered jumpers and white blouse for female in the elementary and high school, white short sleeves barong shirt for men and long sleeves blouse for women in the college.

The dark color represents realism in thoughts and in intention while color stands for purity – purity of purpose and purity of soul. The uniform is a symbol of unity in diversity.


The affinity of the school to the church represents the oneness of the institution with the church. The convent at the represents at the middle is for interiority while the garden in sight is for inner strength.

The school is located in the heart of the university belt. It is surrounded by contemporary and modern centers of entertainment and pleasure. It is an area where the center of knowledge elbows with the centers of activities that may mislead students to oral corruption. In effect, it serves as a catalyzer, an oasis of love for thirsty souls trapped in the desert of temptation.


St. Augustine was born in Tagaste (Now Souk-ahras, Algeria) in 354 A.D. to a pagan father and a Christian mother, St. Monica. He completed his education at Carthage, where he led his class in rhetoric and became popular teacher of the subject.

He was converted to Christianity in 387 A.D. and afterwards devoted his life to spreading the truth to others. After his conversion, he founded a monastery, became a priest, then a bishop. He died in 430 A.D.

Three of his most influential writings are: The Confession, The City of God and the Trinity.

The Confessions talk about the odyssey of the soul lost in the sea of earthly joys and comforts and the return of the same soul to God. This book describes the restlessness of man, his conversion, his discovery of freedom and the need of friends.

The City of God reminds us of man’s responsibility to help build a society with God as the foundation.

St. Augustine represents what an ideal Sebastinian would be. Every Sebastinian should try to emulate St. Augustine’s sincere efforts and exemplary humility to let the grace of God work in his restlessness thus allowing him to discover the beauty of freedom, friendship and conversion.
Friendship by being communitarian man; freedom which means freedom from sin; restlessness or being on a constant journey or in a continuous search for truth and conversion which means turning back and coming home to God.

The spirit of St. Augustine is subsumed in the love of God without condition that unites hearts and souls in a common life of brotherhood and is diffused outward all human beings in the hope of winning and uniting all people in Christ within His Church.