The University’s sceptres

Two of the most beautiful Baroque sceptres were created by the Augsburg goldsmith Albrecht von Horn in 1656. They were completed after a model of the Salzburg sculptor Jakob Gerold. The first sceptre displays Salzburg’s, Paris Lodron’s as well as the University’s coats of arms. The second sceptre depicts the university patron saints. Both are topped with the imperial crown and the tiara, as a sign of the dual privileging, by the Emperor as well as the Pope.

The sceptres, on which students make their academic oaths, are carried ahead at every ceremonial act to emphasise the jurisdiction of the rector over the students.

Due to the closure of the Benedictine University (1810), the sceptres were first taken to Munich and then to the University of Würzburg. As late as 1944, the state archivists succeeded in retrieving them to Salzburg.

The university regained them after reconstitution. They are still in use at graduation ceremonies to this day.

Purchasing the sceptres

Entry in the Benedictine University’s records (UAS, bA 124, fol. 71v.):

Szepter Ankauf

Szepter Verkauf Text

The papal sceptre

Päpstliches Szepter

Below the papal tiara, between gilded angelic herms, are the faculty patrons cast in silver: St. Thomas Aquinas (Theology) in Dominican habit, St. Ivo (Law) with beret and scales, and St. Catherine of Alexandria (Philosophy) with wheel, sword and martyr’s palm. Below these are fire-gilded silver enamels in three shields, which were only completed in 1893 during its restoration in Würzburg using vitreous enamel techniques: St. Benedict (Benedictine University), St. Karl Borromäus (uncle of the prince archbishop Marcus Sitticus and patron saint of the university) and Sts. Cosmas and Damian. The latter were popular patrons for medical faculties, but have no relation to Salzburg, where St Luke was venerated as the patron of the medical faculty, which existed for only a few years.

Szepter Details


The imperial sceptre

Kaiserliches Szepter

The imperial crown is held by three lions: The black lion is taken from the coat of arms of the Salzburg province, the first silver lion with the pretzel tail from the coat of arms of the noble family Lodron, the origin of second silver lion has not yet been identified.

Under the imperial crown are the coats of arms of Salzburg, the noble family Lodron and the Benedictine University. On the latter, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove radiates a godly wisdom. In-between the two palm branches there is the crowned motto of Charles Borromeo. It reads: HVMILITAS – humility. The acronym PASF stands for Paris Archiepsicopus Salisburgensis Fundator – ‘Paris, Archbishop of Salzburg, Founder’, whose coat of arms can be seen under the legate’s hat with the fiocchi (tassels).

In the third level underneath, the university coat of arms is varied in the three faculty coats of arms, always replacing the dove of the Holy Spirit and the lettering HVMILITAS in the book: The coat of arms of the Faculty of Theology reads THEOLOGIA (“Theology”) under the Eye of God in the book, the coat of arms of the Faculty of Law reads VTRVMQVE IVS (“both rights”) under a pair of scales, and the coat of arms of the Faculty of Philosophy reads PHILOSOPHIA (“Philosophy”) under a globe.

Text: Christoph Brandhuber | Translations: Diana McCoy, Leonie Young

Photos: © PLUS, Universitätsarchiv Salzburg (1)  © Hubert Auer (2-4)