The new symbol of Xavier University's power and authority stands 3 1/2 feet tall and weighs 27 pounds. It's made of bronze, copper and finely carved mahogany, and it contains a shred of clothing that once belonged to a saint.
It's a mace, the descendant of a staff that leaders used to carry as a show of their power. In medieval times, maces could be fitted out with spikes to be potent weapons.
At Xavier, where the mace was introduced at the annual Black History Month convocation, the mace is a peaceful reminder of the university's strength and intellectual heft. At graduations, where it will be prominent, the mace will symbolize the university's power to confer degrees, said Pamela Franco, who coordinated the year-long process of getting the mace designed and made.
At its top is a bronze representation of the university's seal, surrounded by its motto, "Deo Adjuvante Non Timendum" ("As God is with us, we have nothing to fear."). It sits atop the part of the mace called a crown, which contains a piece of white cotton cut from a nightgown that belonged to St. Katharine Drexel, Xavier's founder, said Ron Bechet, the Xavier art professor who designed the mace.