The relationship between Touchdown Jesus and Notre Dame football

Notre Dame football is known and respected throughout the world. There are distinct sights and sounds that contribute to the rich tradition that has been cultivated since the birth of Irish football. The Notre Dame fight song, the Golden Dome and the Notre Dame Leprechaun all represent a special part of what makes Notre Dame football unique. Even the library on campus, which stands in the shadow of Notre Dame Stadium, reflects the distinct nature of Notre Dame football.

Word of Life

With the completion of the new library in 1964, The Word of Life Mural was introduced to the campus community. Constructed on the south face of the library (the face directly opposite of Notre Dame Stadium), it stretches 13 floors and was designed by the muralist Millard Sheets. He gathered granite from all over the world to create this masterpiece. Not only did this mural become a special part of Notre Dame, but many people around the world soon became familiar with the Word of Life.

Originally, this mural was just seen as a representation of the Catholic faith and the importance of religion at Notre Dame. When visitors were on campus, they would be able to witness and learn about the history of Christianity. The images of saints, writers and teachers make up most of the mural, with the largest and main figure being Jesus Christ with His arms raised.

Touchdown Jesus

If you have been patiently waiting to hear about how Notre Dame football plays into this story, now is the time to start paying attention. It was the1964 college football season and Notre Dame players and fans noticed noticed the mural could be easily seen from inside the stadium if they looked north. With Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte throwing passes as far as the eye could see, it was only a matter of time before one’s line-of-sight would include both the football and the mural just above the north end zone. When Notre Dame crossed into that end zone, Jesus appeared to signal a score. Thus, Touchdown Jesus was born.

Best View?

Of course, there are places in Notre Dame Stadium that have better views of Touchdown Jesus than others. The south portion of the stadium has the picture perfect view. The higher the seat is, the better the opportunity to witness the beauty of a touchdown with a clear view of Touchdown Jesus. As much as this picture means to fans, even the players and coaches on the field can get a glimpse of Touchdown Jesus. The mural holds a special place in the hearts of all who call Notre Dame Stadium home.

A Sacred Tradition

If you have ever watched a Notre Dame football game, I am sure you have seen an aerial shot of Touchdown Jesus. Famous as it is, it would be unusual if a televised game from Notre Dame football did not include Touchdown Jesus. You might be wondering why it would be so unusual, but there is a simple answer to that question. Touchdown Jesus is tradition. It is not only tradition for Notre Dame students and Notre Dame alumni, but for all those fans worldwide who consume Notre Dame football.

During these times, the biggest upset for Irish football fans has been not being allowed on campus to experience a true football Saturday. Of course, every college football fan is dealing with this frustration. At the end of the day, memories will have to replace experiences during these unprecedented times. For Irish fans, it is gazing above the rim of the stadium to see Touchdown Jesus as the Irish score yet another touchdown.