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Tolle Lege

Stained glass window with Augustine and the words "tolle lege"

Story Behind the Words

One of the first phrases that a person new to the University learns is Tolle Lege. Meaning "take up and read," the words are etched in campus buildings and on Villanovans' minds. 

Here's why they matter.

Augustine, overhearing these words sung by children playing in a garden, picked up the nearest book—a Bible—and opened it. His eyes fall on Paul's words to the people of Rome: "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ." As he describes it in his Confessions, a masterpiece of literature, the moment was critical in Augustine's conversion to Christianity. His life changed forever.

The phrase focuses all Villanovans on why they are here: to pursue the truth with their whole selves in the company of other learners.

Cover of Tolle Lege Handbook

Handbook for the Journey

Tolle Lege is also the fitting title of Villanova's compact guide to the spirit, heritage and history of the University. This colorful, easy-to-read volume is organized around  three basic questions: Who are we? How do we do it? What do we hope to achieve?

Not sure what it means to be Augustinian? Looking for prayers for different professions? Need a glossary to brush up on "Villanova speak"? It's all in this handy resource. Just take up (or click) and read! 

In addition to the online version available to all, first-year students and new employees also receive a print copy. Other people interested in a print copy should email inquiries to the Office for Mission and Ministry.

Tool for ACS Faculty

Download the Tolle Lege Study Guide to share with your students. This short companion to Tolle Lege invites them into deeper reflection.