How to foster your faith just by walking around campus
Some of the best moments of freshman year are the times when unfamiliar aspects of Notre Dame’s history and lore are suddenly discovered. Sure, even casual fans of the Fighting Irish are familiar with Touchdown Jesus and the Golden Dome, but when it comes to Catholic identity, there are many lesser known sacred spaces waiting to be found by first year students.
Famous for being the spiritual center of campus, the area near the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the Main Building is known as God Quad. The Basilica serves as the mother church of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the religious order that founded Notre Dame back in 1842.
Daily Mass is at 11:30 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. Sunday Masses this fall are scheduled for 8 a.m., 10 a.m., and 11:45 a.m. While you are at Mass, take note of the 44 large stained glass windows and murals created by Vatican painter Luigi Gregori, who was commissioned by Notre Dame founder Father Edward Sorin.
Just outside the Basilica, etched above the east door, are the immortal words “God, Country, Notre Dame”—coined by the Knights of Columbus Council #1477, which has been serving Notre Dame since 1910. Take a few steps to the right, and you will find a memorial to “to the innocent victims of abortion” erected by the Knights, a reminder of Notre Dame’s commitment to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Down the steps and behind the Chapel is the Grotto, one of the most spectacular outdoor landmarks on campus, and a place of reflection and refreshment for students throughout the year. Say a prayer and light a candle at this replica of the cave in Lourdes, France, where the Virgin Mary appeared to 14-year-old Saint Bernadette on 18 occasions in 1858.
Before you leave God Quad, venture inside the Main Building and discover more works by master-artist Gregori, including his depictions of Christopher Columbus discovering the New World. But be sure not to walk up the front steps of Main Building. Notre Dame is a keeper of many legends, and one the more prominent superstitions is that current students should always use the side door when entering the building crowned by the Golden Dome—or risk never graduating.
A BLESSING AT MEALTIME
It is purported that the architect of South Dining Hall designed it to resemble a medieval guild hall—not, as more recent students suggest, the Great Hall at Hogwarts. In 1927, Ralph Adams Cram, the nation’s foremost Gothic Revivalist, completed construction on South Dining Hall and declared it to represent “the incorporation of Western Christian culture into the modern American educational process.”
Great food and great art converge at “South,” where you can grab a bite and pull up a chair under the full-scale replica of Leonardo Da Vinci’s classic painting, The Last Supper. Towering over the west hall’s exit, it was commissioned by Florida businessman Eugene Holton in the 1950’s.
If the crowds in South are sparse, you might even find a seat at the Jesus Table, a raised platform that was once reserved for rectors and prefects. Today, it is open to all students and visitors, offering the best view of all the cafeteria comings and goings.
SPORTS AND THE SPIRIT
Football is a religious experience for many at Notre Dame. Whatever the final score, the Alma Mater is sung at the end of each game, putting athletic accomplishment in a proper perspective and directing the youthful passion for glory toward a greater purpose.
Touchdown Jesus is another Catholic landmark closely associated with football at Notre Dame, but it was originally constructed to convey the image of “Christ the Teacher.” If you look closely at Hesbrugh Library, the image of Christ leads a queue of saints and scholars. Known as the Word of Life mural, it stands 210 feet high and is made up of thousands of individual pieces of cut granite.
You can also find other famous football icons across campus, including “The Holy Hand-Off” (Coleman-Morse Center), “First Down Moses” (beside Hesburgh Library), and “Fair Catch Corby” (in front of Corby Hall).
Be sure to also check out the Compton Family Ice Arena, which is not only home to Notre Dame’s hockey team but also houses the largest image of the famous phrase “God, Country, Notre Dame.”
Michael Singleton is a junior and the Publisher of the Irish Rover. He is a fan of Middle Earth, Narnia, the Blessed Realm of Notre Dame, and other enchanted places. Contact him at email@example.com.