The first known appearance of the Berea College seal on a printed document was in the 1869-1870 college catalog. This was also the same year the first students were admitted to pursue a full four-year college course at Berea. The seal began appearing on issued college diplomas in 1873, and though it has undergone minor changes since, it remains very similar to the original in essentials.
When the founders of Berea College applied for a charter, it was necessary to design an official seal. Placing a cross as the central emblem on the seal design seemed appropriate considering the application began with the words: “In order to promote the cause of Christ…” To this day the cross remains the center piece on the design.
Above the cross are the Latin words VINCIT QUI PATITUR. Loosely translated to English, this phrase means “He who suffers conquers.” The motto was taken from the family seal of Reverend John A. R. Rogers, and was derived from his ancestor, John Rogers. John Rogers was the first Christian martyr to be burned alive under the persecution of “Bloody” Mary in the sixteenth century. “He who suffers conquers” rings true for many who have devoted some portion of their lives to the mission of Berea College. The printed program of Berea’s Seventy-fifth Anniversary on 30 May 1931 states, “All the men and women that have built their lives into Berea have recognized that the price to be paid for spiritual victory is the endurance of hardships and injustice.”
Written around the perimeter of the seal are the words “GOD HAS MADE OF ONE BLOOD ALL PEOPLES OF THE EARTH” which is taken from part of the Apostle Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill in Athens in Acts 17:26. The original wording was “GOD HATH MADE OF ONE BLOOD ALL NATIONS OF MEN,” but in 1993, the Berea College Board of Trustees agreed that replacing the words “nations of men” with “peoples of the earth” would provide a more accurate translation for this scriptural passage originally written in Greek saying, “pan ethnos anthropon.” They also felt that using the word “peoples” was more appropriate than “men” because it includes males and females, and does not “accent or exclude” either.
This quote was selected to represent Berea College on the seal because it reflects the ideas presented in Berea’s pre-civil war constitution against slave holding and caste. President E. H. Fairchild wrote in Berea College, Kentucky: An Interesting History, that these words from Acts “seemed wonderfully appropriate.” Indeed, even to this day Berea College lives out in practice these words by welcoming people of all races, genders, and religions.