The words Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo (Firm in principle, gentle in manner), have a long and surprising history.
When Concordia purchased the Malvern Grammar School building (now known as the Hamann Wing) in 1904, this very motto was inscribed on two stained glass panels framing the main entrance. It was decided to adopt these ready-made and meaningful Latin words as the motto for the College. Unfortunately, the windows were broken many years ago, but the words can still be seen in the stained glass in The Suaviter.
The editor of the 1937 The Brown and Gold yearbook made some interesting comments on the choice of Latin for the motto.
‘Practically all languages are rich in mottoes, but probably Latin and Greek have given the world the wisest and choicest maxims; and of course, for an Australian, the choice of motto must be restricted to those two languages. What learned man would think of having a motto which is expressed in mere English or German? And how much less a College which claims to be a centre of culture and learning?’
The origin of the motto can be traced back to Claudio Acquaviva, a 16th century Italian Jesuit priest. He believed that relationships with others need not compromise the Christian faith, but that everything should be presented in a gentle way.
Concordia shares this motto with the Essendon Bombers. They have retained the Latin version, but include an English translation which is possibly more appropriate for a football club: Gently in manner, resolute in execution.
It is also worth noting that in Concordia’s history, the translation of ‘suaviter in modo’ has varied from ‘temperate in method’ to ‘agreeable in manner’ to ‘firmly in action.’
Jenni van Wageningen