The Laurel Tree

New banners displayed on the lampposts in the driveway to the Provincial Center show a redesigned laurel tree and tag line on a field of green. The laurel tree reinforces the image rich with meaning for generations.


The laurel tree, used as the symbol for the Roman Union Ursulines of the Eastern Province, has a long history among Ursulines that continues to recall the saint for whom the Ursulines are named and to express their spirit.

The laurel tree rooted in the earth and spreading its branches embodies meanings of roots faithful to tradition with commitment branching across boundaries and into the future.

Its history shows the flexible use of a symbol for new times and conditions. The laurel tree from ancient Greek and Roman times signified victory, achievement, and honor. That meaning persists to the present, for example, “don’t rest on your laurels.”

Over time and through the fascination with words, an anagram constructed from the word laurus (laurel) made a creative image to recall Ursula, a medieval martyr and later patron of learning.

The laurel tree as Ursula laurus appeared
as part of the crest given by Henry IV
to the Ursulines of Paris in 1607.

And in the 20th century, the Ursulines of the Roman Union adapted the crest for its symbol, with the laurel tree prominent.


In 16th century Brescia, Italy, church frescoes of Saint Ursula and legends of her life spread devotion to her. When in 1535 Angela Merici gathered together dedicated women for a formal commitment ritual, she called them the Company of St. Ursula. Ursulines around the world developed from that root.

In the 21st century the Ursulines of the Eastern Province chose the laurel tree as its logo, with the words, “A Mission of Service/A Vision for Change.” The laurel tree embodies the many meanings from the past and communicates its present-day significance of rootedness, reach, life, growth, and beauty.