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Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Borromean Motto, Shield, And Symbol History


Borromeo fun facts. If you're observant, you may notice the Borromeo motto, "humilitas," in many places around Stresa. Or maybe you've seen the recurring unicorn symbols, and perhaps also a camel. But do you know what these seemingly dissimilar symbols signify to the Borromeo family? Why they're important and what they mean? Here, from the Isole Borromee website, is how to decipher the symbols found in the center of the Borromean seal:
* The unicorn entered the emblem of the Borromeo family in 1445. According to the tradition, it symbolizes honor, virtue and devotion.
*The camel that rests in a basket with a crown of ostrich feathers on his back symbolizes obedience, patience, and fealty.
*The three gold circles, known as the Borromean Rings, are linked together in such manner that the removal of one will break them all. This symbolized the unbreakable bond between the Borromeo, Sforza, and Visconti families. (Google Borromean Rings to learn more about this mathematical phenomenon.)
*The silver riding bit recalls the heroic deeds of Giovanni Borromeo, who defeated the Swiss forces that threatened the feudal possessions of the family in 1487. Since then, it represents strength.
*The golden cedar leaf recalls the gardens of Isola Bella and Isola Madre. It symbolizes the mild weather of the place.
*The motto “HUMILTAS,” written in a black, gothic font, appeared for the first time in 1445 and became the motto of San Carlo Borromeo, pointing out the humility one needs to reach God.
*The blonde braids refer to Santa Giustina, whose sacrifice ennobled the family.
*The waves refer to the ancient crest of the Vitaliani family of Padova.
*The wings refer to the Arese family that joined the Borromeo in 1652 with the wedding of Earl Renato Borromeo and Giulia Arese.
So keep your eyes open. When going through the palace on Isola Bella try to count all the unicorns you can find. And not only on the Borromean Islands, but on their other properties and even in Milan. You'll be surprised how often you see signs of Borromean presence. They may have believed in "humilitas," but also proud to show signs of that everywhere they went.



For lots of interesting information about the Borromeo properties, as well as visiting information and online ticket sales, visit: http://www.isoleborromee.it/eng/storia-borromeo-stemma.html
These have been just a few photos to get you started; you'll find many examples once you start to look.


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