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Saturday, March 2, 2024
The Observer

History of the Columbus murals

To the Editor of The Observer: The decision by Fr. John Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame, to cover the Columbus Murals in the Main Building is both shocking and appalling. I applaud the Wall Street Journal piece by Mr. Bermudez, a Peruvian-American Catholic, for pointing out a number of profound truths: “the facts do not add up to rash charges” against Christopher Columbus; “tearing down Columbus monuments has been the work of hateful fringe groups in this country for decades” and finally, “the real target is the Catholic faith itself.” In fact, Columbus brought “missionaries who showed millions of people the path to salvation.”That was likewise the mission of Fr. Edward Sorin, CSC, the founder of the University of Notre Dame which sits on land that once belonged to indigenous people. One would think that Fr. Jenkins and the students at Notre Dame would know and understand the history and beauty of the building. The second Main Building at Notre Dame burned to the ground in 1879. Fr. Sorin ordered the construction of a new Main Building and it was Fr. Sorin himself who, in 1880, commissioned Professor Luigi Gregori, the Italian artist in residence to paint the beautiful Columbus Murals. Fr. Sorin considered these paintings to be a celebration of the introduction of the Catholic faith to the Americas. Now some groups, to whom Fr. Jenkins has capitulated, are imposing their false narrative on beautiful and inspirational artwork that belongs to the Notre Dame community, not Fr. Jenkins or them. The real truth is that Fr. Jenkins’ obliteration of the Columbus Murals by covering them is a terrible attack on Notre Dame’s founder, the history of Notre Dame and on the Catholic faith itself.

Ed Smith

Class of ’70, ’73

Jan. 28

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.