Is nothing sacred? Trinity College scraps Bible from its crest

New college shield part of €100,000 image revamp

The Bible on the Trinity crest, closed with clasps, is an image that dates back to the college’s founding in 1592.

The winds of change at Trinity College Dublin have not only swept in a new name for the university in official communications, but have blown religious symbolism out of the college's ancient crest.

Under a controversial €100,000 branding initiative, agreed at board level this week, Trinity is removing the Bible from the crest and replacing it with “an open book” in what it describes as a “deliberate and symbolic” change.

The college had previously told staff and students it would retain the Bible, along with other symbols on the shield: the lion, castle and harp.

Under a branding initiative, the Bible will be replaced with “an open book” to create a “forward-facing image”.

However, in a memo accepted by the board, the college recommended that the Bible, closed with clasps – an image that harks back to the college's founding in 1592 as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth – be replaced by an open book, "to signify our tradition of scholarship which should be accessible to all".


The aim was to create a more "forward-facing" image, along with the institution's planned new brand name, Trinity College, the University of Dublin, which is to be used instead of TCD in all areas except academic publications.

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times and writer of the Unthinkable philosophy column