The Man Who Knows the Formula of Happiness: Fonske

The Fonske (‘Fons Sapientiae”, “Source of Wisdom”)‘Fonske’ is the symbol of students in Leuven.

The Fonske is a statue in the center of Leuven, on the Rector De Somerplein, front of Grote Markt. It is one of the works of Jef Claerhout and was donated to the city on the occasion of the 550th anniversary of the Catholic University of Leuven in 1975.


The name Fons Sapientiae was coined by Mon de Goeyse, PR manager of the university, at the request of Rector Piet De Somer. Fons Sapientiae is translated from Latin as Source/Fountain of Wisdom. This is depicted not only by the book in the young man's hand, but also by the glass with which he pours the knowledge into his head. It shows Leuven as a wise university city and a pleasant student city. In the book that Fonske is holding in his hand, there are formulas that together should represent happiness (geluk) in the broadest sense of the word. After all, happiness and wisdom would be a typical combination for student life.

Formula of happiness

Like Manneken Pis, Fonske is also occasionally dressed up by associations that have something to celebrate.

(Source: Leuven Architecture and Sculpture, 2013, Toerisme Vlaanderen andLeuven Gebeiteld_metkaft - Leuven statues.pdf),

photos by Aslı Tezcan 

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Fonske Source of Wisdom