Will Pres. Obama wear ND’s doctoral robe and its Marian motto?

From CNSNEWS with my emphases and comments.

Notre Dame Expects Obama to Wear Prayer to Virgin Mary on Chest When He Accepts Honorary Degree
Friday, April 17, 2009
By Edwin Mora

(CNSNews.com) – Notre Dame expects President Obama to wear the school’s traditional doctoral robe–which is emblazoned with a cross and a prayer to the Virgin Mary–when the president receives an honorary law degree from the university at its May 17 commencement ceremony.

“Yes,” replied Notre Dame Spokesman Dennis Brown, when CNSNews.com asked him if Obama would wear the robe that has been worn by previous graduation speakers at Notre Dame.

Another Notre Dame official confirmed that “everybody” wears Notre Dame’s traditional doctoral robe when they receive an honorary law degree from Notre Dame.

In 2001, when President Bush received an honorary law degree from Notre Dame, he wore the school’s traditional doctoral robe inscribed with the prayer to the Virgin Mary. In 2008, when actor Martin Sheen [How odd to mention those two, since neither of them would have an ideological problem with the BVM.] received the Laetare Award from Notre Dame at its commencement ceremony, he wore the same traditional Notre Dame robe.
CNSNews.com asked White House Spokesman Shin Inouye whether Obama will wear the same robe worn by Bush and Sheen.  Inouye said: “I’ve looked around, [wait for it…] but I don’t have an answer for you.”  [What do you want to bet this will now be a concern.]
The Notre Dame doctoral robe bears two images of the school’s coat of arms, one on both the right and left chest areas.
The coat of arms and its symbolic meaning are described in “The Spirit of Notre Dame: Its History, Legends and Lore” by Dorothy V. Corson, a publication that is posted on Notre Dame’s official website.
The publication includes a detailed illustration of the coat of arms and a quote from the February 1931 issue of The Notre Dame Alumnus magazine, explaining it.
The emblem features a cross and a book with a prayer inscribed in it, a star in the upper left-hand corner and two wavy lines at the bottom.
The official title of the university is “Universitas Dominae Nostrae a Lacu”—the University of Our Lady by the Lake–and thus the star is presented because it is “reminiscent  [ummm…. so it is not explicit?] of the beautiful epithet Star of the Sea” and “was chosen as Mary’s symbol in the new shield of arms.”
The two wavy lines are “poetically expressive of the dedication of the University to the Star of the Sea.”
Members of the Congregation of Holy Cross who founded Notre Dame are represented by the cross.
“The open book is always emblematic of an institution of learning,” says the publication on the Notre Dame website. “The phrase ‘Vita, Dulcedo, Spes,’ taken from the ancient prayer to the Virgin, the ‘Salve Regina,’ [So, that is explicit.] means ‘our life, our sweetness, our hope’ the combination of these phrases with the symbol for the university indicates the dedication of all Notre Dame’s activities, intellectual, spiritual, athletic, and so on, to Our Lady.”
When President Obama spoke at Georgetown University on Tuesday, the school covered over a cross and the monogram “IHS”—which is a symbol for the name of Jesus—where it was inscribed on a pediment embedded in the wall directly above and behind where Obama stood on a stage to speak.
In a written statement, Georgetown told CNSNews.com on Wednesday:  “In coordinating the logistical arrangements for yesterday’s event, Georgetown honored the White House staff’s request  [The fault lies more with Georgetown than the WH, obvously] to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind Gaston Hall stage. The White House wanted a simple backdrop of flags and pipe and drape for the speech, consistent with what they’ve done for other policy speeches. Frankly, the pipe and drape wasn’t high enough by itself to fully cover the IHS and cross above the GU seal and it seemed most respectful to have them covered so as not to be seen out of context.”  ["out of context"… irony oozes…]
On Thursday, both Georgetown and the White House made statements indicating that covering over the “IHS” and cross behind the stage at Georgetown’s Gaston Hall was the unintended consequence of an effort to provide a backdrop for the flags that the White House wanted displayed behind the president.


I hope those pool photographers will bring their biggest lenses and take really crisp photos of the President with the phrase from the Salve Regina on his honorary doctoral garb.

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  1. TNCath says:

    This just gets weirder and more ridiculous by the day. The irony of it all is that Obama and company think that HE is the “vita, dulcedo, spes” of our country.

    This reminds me of a Christian Brother, who, on the occasion of his golden jubilee Mass, chose as the recessional hymn, “How Great Thou Art.” As the procession marched out of the Church with the brother jubilarian beaming from ear-to-ear as he made his way down the aisle, an elderly brother in attendance sitting next to me in the pew quipped, “I’m wondering to whom we are singing?”

    I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody out there tries to spin this Marian motto in that same direction.

  2. Paule says:

    I am laughing out loud with all of this going on….
    It is sad and funny and the same time.
    Let them take the pictures with their biggest lens and see what it will all look like…
    Kyrie eleison….

  3. Brian says:

    By President Obama’s wearing of this garb, may Mary, Mother of Mercy, intecede for his conversion!

  4. Brian says:

    Excuse my spelling, intercede. Sorry

  5. Is it possible that Notre Dame is using as an out? The just learned of Obama’s distaste for religious symbols from his visit to Georgetown, and now they are pushing this Marian robe. I think they are looking for something to cause Obama to back out.

  6. Aelric says:

    I cannot help but think of the inversion:

    Our Lord was mocked by the Romans with a crown of thorns and a royal robe: He who truly was, is, and always shall be the true King.

    Now a Roman Catholic University honors with degree and academic regalia a false “king.”

    I am reminded of a line from Becket: I would spit, were I not in God’s house.

  7. john polhamus says:

    I don’t think he will object. Muslims venerate Mary as well. It is to Our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God that they object, and it is the sentiments of the muslims that he defers. I think he’ll be more than happy to debase Our Lady. But perhaps Our Lord through her has other plans…

  8. Do you remember the Wheat and the Cockle? “Master, do you wish us to pull up the Cockle? No, lest in pulling up the Cockle, you also disturb the Wheat. Let them grow side by side until the harvest, at which time we will harvest the Wheat and place it in my barns, and the Cockle we will bind and throw it into the eternal fire.” Dear Brothers and Sisters, it is difficult to understand but it is as simple as that.

  9. manic mechanic says:

    The fact that ND honored Martin Sheen last year should have been an omen of even worse things to come.

  10. Maybe they’ll cover the emblem and prayer with black tape or something.

  11. michigancatholic says:

    A scripture passage sprung immediately into my mind’s eye when I saw this post:

    27″Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

    The real question is: Should the powers-that-be at Notre Dame University even be wearing such a robe? The whole thing is a joke from start to finish. So was Georgetown, which everyone should know by now, is a quagmire and no longer Catholic.

    William Phelan said in a previous post,

    “Do you remember the Wheat and the Cockle? “Master, do you wish us to pull up the Cockle? No, lest in pulling up the Cockle, you also disturb the Wheat. Let them grow side by side until the harvest, at which time we will harvest the Wheat and place it in my barns, and the Cockle we will bind and throw it into the eternal fire.” Dear Brothers and Sisters, it is difficult to understand but it is as simple as that.”

    I think he’s right. We may say whatever we want about the situation, but the truth is there, and that’s what really matters in the end.

    Want to do something about this? Sit and pray for an hour. Say a rosary. Strengthen your resolve to yourself & God to stay on the Catholic side of this mess. If you are at ND, transfer someplace else quietly. It’s your own business and you can. If you spend money there, stop. If you wear a ND shirt, stop. If you are set up to attend something there, cancel and set up something else someplace else. Put ND on your non-Catholic list along with the NYT and CNN. It’s not like ND is a recent loss. In truth, ND hasn’t been Catholic for YEARS. Neither has Georgetown. They need to be laughed out of existence in my view.

    PS I have this great game poncho that has a ND insignia on it. It’s a good poncho bought at a great price at a closeout sale. I like to go to fiber festivals and such and it often rains and that’s why I bought it :] The ND insignia is going to get covered up with a flower or something now so I can continue to wear it. It doesn’t work as well inside out.

  12. michigancatholic says:

    ND wants to be a secular university. Well, well, well. Let them compete as one then. Then we’ll see how good they really are. NOT.

  13. LCB says:

    Hey guys! Did you hear the news?

    It’s okay to support Obama if you are Catholic! How do I know? See I have this picture right here, where NOTRE DAME invited Obama to give their commencement, gave him an honorary degree, and even gave him robes with the school’s coat of arms and lines from “Salve Regina” on them!

    Wait wait wait… you’re trying to tell me that Obama’s positions are wrong, and that someone so pro-killing babies can’t be supported by a Catholic?

    But that CAN’T be true, NOTRE DAME honored him, and he even took a picture with Fr. Jenkins in front of the golden dome, with both of them wearing the commencement robes, and Fr. Jenkins gave him an honorary degree!

    I don’t know much about my faith, but I know that I should go to Church every Sunday, confession once a year, and that if I don’t have the answer for something I can trust Notre Dame to have it. And if Notre Dame honors Obama, and Fr. Jenkins takes pictures with him in front of the golden dome, then it MUST be okay to support him.

    Right? Right?

  14. michigancatholic says:

    LCB, why do you think he’s there that weekend instead of some secular college. You’re catching on. He’s got a “Catholic problem” and he’s trying to fix it. It’s an image thing.

  15. michigancatholic says:

    That’s what the whole Fr. Pfleger thing in Chicago was about. Except Obama wouldn’t know a real Catholic priest if one looked him right in the eye and said boo. He doesn’t know anything about us and probably cares even less–except for the image part. HE has big fish to fry, dontcha know.

  16. Nick says:

    I don’t think a man who is pro-abortion should bear the cross and an emblem of Mary, Star of the Sea. I think it would be a disgrace. So I will be offering my prayers in union with the Mass of Reparation.

    But, I know that God works in mysterious ways, and I ought to submit to His Will rather to my own. So I will trust in Him.

  17. Dan says:

    “The official title of the university is “Universitas Dominae Nostrae a Lacu”—the University of Our Lady by the Lake…”

    Wouldn’t that be the University of Our Lord by the Lake?

  18. prof. basto says:



    “Domina” is Lady, “Domina Nostra” is Our Lady, “Dominae Nostrae” is “of Our Lady”.

    “Dominus” is the word that means Lord.

    “Of Our Lord” would be “Domini Nostri”.

  19. Sieber says:

    I am sure the areas of disagreement between what I think and what Martin Sheen thinks are many. Let me say that on holidays many stars and celebrities show up to serve & wait on the poor and homeless just so long as the TV crews are filming. Martin Sheen is the first one there in the wee hours to open the soup kitchen and the last one to leave after scrubbing out the last pot. At the osculum pacis I have no problem extending my hand and saying, “peace be with you.”

  20. MargoB says:


    UND isn’t a total loss on the Catholic scene. I would still attend, for instance, the events at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. They have some particularly good and relevant conferences, papers, seminars, and other events that get the Gospel out there in ways that help lots of us know it and live it better.

    Check them out! : http://ethicscenter.nd.edu/

  21. TJM says:

    Ironically, although Martin Sheen is a Democrat he is also anti-abortion and so neither he nor the University would have a problem. “Let them die if born alive from a botched abortion” Obama, however, is an entirely another matter. Tom

  22. TNCath says:

    TJM wrote: “Ironically, although Martin Sheen is a Democrat he is also anti-abortion and so neither he nor the University would have a problem. “Let them die if born alive from a botched abortion” Obama, however, is an entirely another matter.”

    Tom, I may be wrong, but while he may not be as radical as Obama, I wouldn’t consider Martin Sheen 100% anti-abortion, though he considers himself, as does Joe Biden, a practicing Catholic. Check out this interview at


  23. Indelible Inkstain says:

    Somehow I can’t shake the image of Herakles donning the tunic given by Nessus

    “Come at it that way, my boy, what splendour
    It all coheres.”

    (Women of Trachis, Sophocles by way of Ezra Pound)

    I will pray for a miracle from Our Lady, and the conversion of Obama, Pelosi, Kerry, et al

  24. manic mechanic says:

    So Martin Sheen is the first to arrive and the last to leave the soup kitchen on celebrity day, well whoop-de-doo. Here is his position on abortion: “I personally am opposed to abortion, but I will not judge anybody else’s right in that regard because I am not a woman and I could never face the actual reality of it.” In other words, he is PRO-CHOICE, just like the Bidens and Kerrys of the world who call themselves Catholic.

  25. Supertradmom says:

    I cannot believe that Our Lady and Our Divine Lord would not be blasphemed by this wearing of the robe. Of course it means something. All universities, including ND, are jealous of their emblems and symbols. I hope this is an “out” for the administration. Obama obviously needs a new press person as well. One should be ready with an answer of some sort. I think those in Washington who are secular, and even anti-religious, are surprised by the serious reaction of good Catholics.

  26. LCB says:

    Indelible, a fine reference.

    I think of Diogenes, wandering through the administrative building of Notre Dame with a lantern– in search of an honest man.

  27. Girgadis says:

    Notre Dame should not have invited Barack Obama to speak at commencement, let
    alone bestow an honorary degree on him. But if George Bush can wage an
    unnecessary war, torture people and sign death warrants and still be seen as
    fit to wear that robe, why on earth would anyone compare honoring Obama to
    honoring Sheen, particularly on the basis of one interview?

  28. TJM says:

    Girgadis, quit drinking the liberal koolaid. George Bush did not wage an unnecessary war, unlike Franklin Roosevelt, who declared War on Germany, while it was Japan that attacked the US, in contrast to George Bush who had the gillizion of the Iraq War cease fire violations of Saddam Hussein, who did not torture anyone, unless you equate 3 square meals ago at Guantanemo with heads being sawed off by Muslims of a US reporter, etc. I guess you prefer that the rape rooms and human shredders of Saddam should have gone on. Too bad you weren’t in Iraq to be able to take advantage of addam’s “beneficence.” Moral midgets like you make me sick. Tom

  29. Emilio III says:

    TJM, FDR declared war on Japan and then Adolf Whathisname declared war on the US. That is not to say that FDR had not been violating the alleged US neutrality for quite a while before the attack on Pearl Harbor, but the formal declaration of war was made by Germany rather than the US.

  30. Girgadis says:


    Why the need for name-calling and insults? Thankfully, God will be the
    judge of my morality, as it should be.

  31. Bill in Texas says:

    Someone should sew a Green Scapular into that robe. And slip one into whatever case or frame will hold the honorary degree.

  32. michigancatholic says:


    Do you always have this much trouble staying on topic? Obama being invited to Notre Dame is the issue. After rescinding federal rules on abortion. That’s this year. Got it?

  33. Girgadis says:

    “So Martin Sheen is the first to arrive and the last to leave the soup kitchen on celebrity day, well whoop-de-doo. Here is his position on abortion: “I personally am opposed to abortion, but I will not judge anybody else’s right in that regard because I am not a woman and I could never face the actual reality of it.” In other words, he is PRO-CHOICE, just like the Bidens and Kerrys of the world who call themselves Catholic.”

    In case you don’t recognize that post, it’s yours Michigan. Are you sure
    you got it?

  34. michigancatholic says:

    That post was not written by me, Girgadis. Look again.

  35. Girgadis says:

    Sorry, Michigan – I’ll slap my own wrist for that faux pas.

    I think Bill in Texas had the best idea but I’m still holding out hope that
    Obama reconsiders the invitation given all the bad publicity it’s getting.
    Then again, maybe that’s exactly what is needed to ground him in the reality
    that the support he has isn’t from Catholics who adhere strictly to the
    church’s teachings.

  36. TJM says:

    Girgadis, you engaged in a bit of name calling yourself when speaking of President Bush. I know you’re feeling guilty for voting for “The One.”

    By modern day liberal standards Franklin Roosevelt would be considered a terrorist for intentionally firebombimg civilian populations in German and Japan killing HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS. By contrast, George Bush is a saint!

    Have a good day!

  37. Girgadis says:


    You’re jumping to conclusions. I did not vote for Obama – in fact, I voted
    for no one because Chuck Baldwin did not appear on the ballot in PA and
    neither major party candidate met my criteria for being respectful of life
    in all its forms and stages. I’m neither a conservative or a liberal – just
    a lowly servant of God trying to carry out His will. My previous posts opposing
    the invitation to have Obama give the commencement speech at ND speak for

    Have a beautiful Divine Mercy Sunday.


  38. Supertradmom says:

    I have had a thought that Obama wearing the robe is a poor business move on the part of the University of Notre Dame. I think this whole idea of Notre Dame as being an elite Catholic University will be undermined by the conferring of the honorary degree on a very secular, anti-life person. Contrary to what we have been thinking, that Obama’s image in photographs throughout the world in a Notre Dame gown will help ND’s image, I believe this publicity will ruin ND as the premier Catholic university. In business terms, the elite Catholic standing will be compromised and ND will no longer need to exist, as the reason for its existence will no longer be a reality. A business paradigm would reveal that ND no longer has an image or even a symbol to market, as the administration has caused a major image confusion. This is much like Coke changing its recipe many years ago and having to come out with “Classic Coke”. Can we have “Classic ND”? I think ND has changed forever. Does the administration realized that it has basically undermined the entire raison d’etre for the University? Parents and alumni pay the bills, not the kids. And, they above all are business savvy. Notre Dame University is not merely not Catholic, but no longer elite after this error in judgment. The law degree will no longer mean the same thing as it did before the conferring of this honorary degree.

  39. Supertradmom says:

    And, may I add that the best of Catholic institutions are elite-the Benedictines, the Carmelites, the secular priesthood. That is, these organizations carefully choose to whom they confer membership. Remember St. Benedict’s Rule allows for keeping someone at the door for up to five days, instead of immediate entry, and for strict training. ND will no longer produce “the few, the proud” of Catholicism….

  40. zach says:

    I think the bigger question is weather or not ND will cover up religious images and scripts in the university as to not offend the great Obama.

  41. John in Pasadena says:

    respice stellam voca mariam

    Last Sunday’s Gospel reading was one of my favorite of the Gospels. It was the story about Thomas of Didymus. We all know how the Gospel goes, so no sense in rehashing it. But essential to the Gospel’s message is Thomas’s stubbornness and his refusal to accept that Jesus has risen until he is proven with physical evidence. This Gospel passage got me to think about how different the Catholic Church would be today if the following (though highly improbable but not impossible) series of events were to happen:

    Say, a few years after the Ascension, things were in relative harmony and peace in Judea. This happened thanks to Pontius Pilate’s skillful and diplomatic political acumen. So Thomas’s oldest son was about to celebrate Bar Mitzvah and he (Thomas) decided that it would be a good idea to invite Pontius Pilate to speak at the Bar Mitzvah – after all, Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea and one of the most popular secular leader in the Roman Empire, would bring a tremendous amount prestigious to the table. Thomas’s decision to invite Pontius Pilate was not without protest and disagreement from the other Apostles. They wrote letters to Thomas, they pleaded with him, and some would even go so far as to remind him Pontius Pilate’s ruthless tactics and stands on children (born or unborn). John the Apostle reminded Thomas of the time when the disciples shooed away the children, and the Lord said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” Sadly, everything fell on deaf ears, as Thomas being stubborn and was too much enthralled by the glitter and majestic presence of Pontius Pilate.

    To make matters worst, Thomas arranged for ceremony to take place and Mary’s house. As you know Mary’s house is beautiful for it rests tranquilly on two lakes (one of the lakes is named after her husband, Joseph). Now, Mary always welcomes children to her house and very often, she would host this strange sporting event where the children run from one end of the field to another carrying an almond shaped leather ball. Overall the years, her team has been pretty successful (not lately, of course). Can you imagine the tears and pains that Mary suffered as she learned of Thomas’s decision to not only invite Pontius Pilate to speak but also to honor him at her house?

    Well, about a month before the Bar Mitzvah ceremony at Mary’s house, Peter invited Pontius Pilate to his house (about 604 miles due east) to speak on the state of economy in Judea. Now before Pontius Pilate was going to speak there, he put forth a condition. The condition is that Peter removes all symbols or reminders of Peter’s teacher. In fact, Pontius Pilate and his crew are very specific to say that anything with Jesus name, specifically IHS – the first three Greek letters IH?OY?, would have to be covered up. This is because it would remind people that there is an ideal that is greater than Pontius Pilate. Peter, fearful of losing out on this tremendous opportunity, went ahead and honored the request. The neighbors were wondering why so many roosters crowed and crowed feverishly for the whole weeks leading up to Pontius Pilate’s speech.

    Are Thomas, Peter and their supporters really enamored with Pontius Pilate and therefore exhibited an idolatrous reverence? Or are they so much disgusted with Pontius Pilate’s predecessor, Valerius Gratus, that any kind of change is acceptable? How different would the Church be today if these events were to have happened? I don’t know. All I can say is that we need to look to the stars and call upon Mary.

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