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Historical mural rediscovered

Jennifer Metz | Monday, September 25, 2006

The Gentlemen of St. Edward’s Hall are proud, and with good reason.

Not only is St. Edward’s the survivor of a 1980 fire and the site of Knute Rockne’s reception into the Church, but it also houses a newly restored, eye-catching Luigi Gregori mural.

The mural, which dates back to 1882, has always resided in St. Edward’s, but has not been visible to residents’ eyes – until now.

After being rediscovered by hall staff last year in a storage closet, the Gregori mural was renovated and moved into a second floor study lounge.

St. Edward’s Rector Father Ralph Haag, said the administration felt it had to preserve the mural, which once stood as the backdrop of a stage on the second floor, because it was so historically rich.

The room housing the mural is being turned into an air-conditioned study room, which “isn’t quite finished,” Haag said.

The hall will formally open the room as part of the celebration of Founder’s Week during the week of October 22.

Haag said he is unsure of the mural’s worth.

“How can you put a price tag on Notre Dame history?” he said. “[The mural] is a great source of pride for the gentlemen of St. Ed’s.”

Luigi Gregori, an Italian painter who lived from 1819 to 1896, also painted the murals in the Main Building.

The mural in St. Ed’s depicts Father Sorin performing a wedding ceremony for the local Potawatomi Indians. The top of the mural reads, “Very Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C.,” and the bottom reads, “Founding Notre Dame Nov. 1842.”

Its colors are primarily deep red, green and gold – colors characteristic of the other Gregori murals on campus, Haag said.

“It’s a pretty big thing,” Haag said. “The same great artist that did the Dome did our hall as well.”

Haag said the fact that the mural survived the 1980 fire, which greatly damaged the hall, was amazing.

Deborah Murray, manager of maintenance and projects, said the restoration project started during the end of June and lasted about five weeks. She was unable to give an estimate of the project’s cost.

Every spring, rectors of the residence halls and the Office of Residence Life and Housing propose projects for their halls to be completed during the summer, Director of Residence Life and Housing Jeffrey Shoup said.

The request for the mural project was put in last spring and “was a mutual request from the rector of St. Ed’s and myself,” Shoup said.

Haag said he is thankful that the University did something to preserve the mural.

“It’s too bad there isn’t a before-and-after picture [of the mural],” Shoup said. “People would be amazed.”