Why a Dolphin?

The dolphin is the symbol and mascot of Le Moyne College. The use of the sign of the dolphin became common among Christians of the second century A.D. It was popularly considered to be friendly toward man and represented both love and tenderness. Noted for its grace and swiftness, the dolphin also symbolizes the desire for knowledge.

A figure of the dolphin appears on the seal of the bishop of the ancient See of Syracuse (the official seat, center of authority, jurisdiction or office of a bishop) in Sicily, as well as the seal of the Bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse. Rev. Walter A. Foery, the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse, made one of his priorities the establishment of a Catholic college. On April 14, 1945, Bishop Foery purchased the 103-acre Gifford Farm and promptly sold it to the Jesuits for $50,000. The Gifford Farm is now home to the College and Foery Hall is so named in honor of Bishop Foery.

Excerpt from the first volume of The Dolphin


...While the early Christians were being persecuted at Rome, they would assemble for services at a secret place, usually in the catacombs. They would be informed of a contemplated meeting by the figure of a fish being left in the vicinity of their homes, either scratched in the dust, drawn on paper, or indicated by some other device. Various reasons for the use of the fish symbol have been suggested by historians. Some say that it was selected in memory of the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes; others believe that it was chosen because the Apostles were, for the most part, fishermen. The most plausible and common opinion, however, seems to be the following; the first letters of the Greek phrase for "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour," spelled the Greek word fish.

It was not until the second century that the specific use of the dolphin as a Christian symbol became common. Its frequent employment as an emblem seems to have been due to the fact that the dolphin was popularly considered to be friendly toward men. With the dolphin also there were associated in the imagination of the early Christians the ideas of lover and tenderness. Twin dolphins appearing on funeral monuments symbolized conjugal love and [pointed] toward the central figure of Christ....

The symbol of the dolphin, therefore, is rich in associations of past and present. It puts us geographically in touch with our ancient heritage of faith unshaken amidst opposition, and it keeps us attuned to the inspiration and guidance of our present-day spiritual leaders... It will be a sign, too, of hope that out of these small beginnings, in which we have a share and are a part, there will develop a Le Moyne whose growth will be presided over and protected by the loving care of Almighty God. The symbol of the dolphin is, lastly, a reminder to us that this college of ours, young though it be, springs from an age-old stock, with traditions and a philosophy and an outlook on life that have already stood the test of centuries.