Dominus illuminatio mea

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Arms of the University of Oxford, including the motto
Faculty of History, University of Oxford motto

Dominus illuminatio mea is the motto of the University of Oxford and the incipit (opening words) of Psalm 27, meaning The Lord is my light. It has been in use at least since the second half of the sixteenth century, and it appears on the University's arms.

An article by Ivan Illich may help to explain this ancient university motto, at a time when scientists were progressively replacing the concept of vision as a gaze radiating from the pupil by the concept of vision as the retinal perception of an image formed by reflected sunlight:

"To interpret De oculo morali, the relationship of things to God "who is light" must be understood. This is the century [i.e., the thirteenth century] suffused by the idea that the world rests in God's hands, that it is contingent on Him. This means that at every instant everything derives its existence from his continued creative act. Things radiate by virtue of their constant dependence on this creative act. They are alight by the God-derived luminescence of their truth."[1]

Other uses[edit]

Dominus illuminatio mea is also one of the two mottos of Robert College of Istanbul, and it appears on the arms of Robert College Alumni Association since 1957 next to Veritas.[citation needed]

It is also the motto of Finlandia University (founded as Suomi College) in 1896.[citation needed]

Additionally, it is the motto of Cair Paravel-Latin School, a private college-preparatory school in Topeka, Kansas,[citation needed] and Nazareth Academy in Rochester, New York. It is also used by St Leo's College, University of Queensland and by Drew University in Madison, NJ.[citation needed]

It is also found in the coat of arms of Montessori Professional College, Quezon City.

Furthermore, it is the motto of Hallfield Independent School in Birmingham, UK and Marymount Secondary School in Hong Kong, as well as Gregorian Public School in Kerala, India.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Ivan Illich, "Guarding the Eye in the Age of Show" (PDF). Online Book, 2001, p. 16-17.