Cougar fans may find it confusing to invoke the name of the Savior when talking about football, but at Notre Dame, the phrase, “Touchdown Jesus,” has become tradition.
Touchdown Jesus has been a Notre Dame trademark piece of art the past 48 years.
But this celebrated landmark was not originally titled as Touchdown Jesus. It is officially known as the “Word of Life” mural by Millard Sheets and was completed May 7, 1964.
The mural shows Christ among images of prophets and other historical figures in Christianity. It is comprised of 6,700 pieces of granite and stands 134 feet high and 68 feet wide.
The mural is portrayed on the Hesburgh Library on Notre Dame’s campus. The side of the library with the mural is positioned right behind the north endzone.
It has received its attention for being known as Touchdown Jesus because it portrays Jesus Christ with his arms raised up in a similar position as a referee would have his arms when signaling a touchdown.
In a press release given by Notre Dame, the emeritus president of Notre Dame, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, who approved the mural had no idea it would be known for what it is known for today.
“Thinking of it as Touchdown Jesus was just not in my mind, or anybody else’s for that matter,” Hesburgh said.
While the new name for this mural was not planned, Hesburgh said it has been welcomed and embraced.
Whether watching the game on TV or attending in person, Cougars fans will have a chance to see Touchdown Jesus on Saturday.