Catholic Character

Emblematic of education, the open book on the University shield is inscribed with the Latin words Vita, Dulcedo, Spes, or our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope, which is taken from the familiar prayer Salve Regina, or Hail Holy Queen

All seekers of truth are vitally important to the furtherance of the dialogue between faith and reason, a foundational aspect of Notre Dame’s academic mission.

—From “Notre Dame, Its Mission, Its Faculty”

If someone knows nothing else about Notre Dame, there is a good chance he or she can identify it as a Catholic university. What any one individual interprets that to mean will vary, however, such that there are often misconceptions about how Notre Dame being Catholic makes it different from many other institutions.

To be sure, that religious character is much more than a page in the University’s history detailing its founding by a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross; Catholicism and Catholic intellectual tradition continue to animate the scholarly, residential, and spiritual life of the campus on a daily basis.

At the same time, Notre Dame is not sectarian but welcomes all persons of good will, defending the absolute necessity of academic freedom and turning outward to embrace the larger world.

Read "Notre Dame, Its Mission, Its Faculty" by Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President, and Provost Thomas G. Burish

Father Hesburgh and the Modern Catholic University

Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president from 1952 to 1987, was instrumental in the creation and signing of the Land O’Lakes Statement (1967), which articulated the nature of the modern Catholic university and its relationship with the institutional church. >Read More

Other Resources

The following resources may be of interest to those who would like to learn more about Notre Dame’s Catholic character.