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Seattle University

Answer Me This

What is a "gonfalon" and what does it have to do with SU's commencement?

June 3, 2014

Gaga for gonfalons

Q:  What is a "gonfalon" and what does it have to do with SU's commencement?

A:  This year for the first time, Seattle University's commencement ceremonies will feature gonfalons for each of the eight schools similar to this mock-up (left). Described by Wikipedia as a "heraldic flag or banner," a gonfalon is used for processions and ceremonies. 

A gonfalon typically hangs from a crossbar connected to a post that's anchored in a weighty base. Gonfalons often include a decorative feature at the top, such as a spear-like figure. This is called a...wait for it..."finial." 

So when the person sitting next to you at commencement remarks, "My, what a handsome finial that is atop the gonfalon!" you can respond with a knowing smile. And then you might counter with a clever remark about SU's ceremonial mace. But that's an entirely different story

(A big thanks to Terry Lundmark, senior graphic designer in Marketing Communications, for helping to unlock the mysterious world of gonfalons.)