Glencairn Abbey Cards

What does Sr Paula’s logo mean?

What does Sr Paula’s logo mean?

This is a genuine question – we don’t know the answer.

The logo, which we have put on all our Christmas cards this year, and which is currently the header on the shop webpage, appears on some of her early Christmas card designs.

It shows a nun under a tree, with her back to the tree trunk but not quite leaning against it. The tree – and the nun’s cowl – are blowing in the wind, and leaves are blowing off the branches and away on the breeze.

Down the side of the logo is the word “Cistercian”, and underneath, “Glencairn Abbey” in lettering that Sr Paula later used as text on the front of cards.

It is almost certainly a self-portrait of some kind. The cowl, guimp and veil are exactly what the nuns at Glencairn wore in the 1950s and 60s. And artists usually incorporate their own signature into the work in some way.

But what does it mean? The figure of the nun is very tall, with her head up in the branches of the tree – or perhaps the tree has very low branches.

Some suggest that it represents a line from the Song of Songs (a Biblical text very important in Cistercian spirituality): “Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved… In his delightful shade I sit, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.”  Apple trees have low branches, certainly, but this figure is not sitting. And there is no fruit in evidence. (If this were the correct interpretation of the logo, it would represent the intimate loving relationship of the nun with our Lord).

Another suggestion is that Sr Paula’s initial, “P” can be seen here, the trunk of the tree forming the leg of the letter and the branches forming the curve. But we are not convinced of this.

Can you suggest what this logo might represent? Please let us know in the comments below. We look forward to your suggestions!


  • Not a meaning, but an observation. The winds are blowing at the branches of the tree, and the habit, but the trunk and the lettering of the Order are straight and strong; the logo forms a dove in flight. No matter what buffets time and challenge bring, the tree will thrive, as long as it is supported by the Rule. The dove shows the way into an uncertain future, challenged by the winds of change, but the steady support, which never wavers brings a surety.

    Then again, sometimes, a tree is just a tree … and the entirety of the drawing is beautifully balanced.

  • “Sorry I w’ll explain in french ! Les racines citerciennes de votre abbaye nourissent votre vie et comme un arbre qui ploit sous l’effet des vents parfois contraires vos prières sont semées à tout vent pour atteindre le monde dans sa globalité

    Marie Catherine Hénaff

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