University of Notre Dame's Medieval Institute hosts new gameday tradition

NOW: University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute hosts new gameday tradition

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- To football fans, it is known as Touchdown Jesus. To students at the University of Notre Dame, it is Hesburgh library, and to some, it is the home to history!

Nestled on the 7th floor of Hesburgh library, through rows of books, you can find the Medieval Institute. The institution was founded in 1946 by Father Philip Moore. Ever since, it has been the oldest and largest center in the United States dedicated to studying and teaching all aspects of medieval culture.

“But over the years, especially over the last 25 years, the area we studied has expanded well beyond Latin Europe, to include Middle East and Arabic and Islamic Middle East as well, so at Notre Dame we have the largest collection of scholars studying the middle ages,” says Thomas E. Burman, Professor of History and Robert M. Conway Director of Medieval  

This year is the 75th anniversary of the institute, and with those 75 years has come a year of “firsts!” Throughout the entire football season, the institute has been holding events the day of home games for students and community members alike to join in on the fun of the middle ages.

“Our events have been geared at showing how medieval arts and practices are still used by artists today,” says Annie Killian, Public Humanities Fellow at the Medieval Institute.  

Past events have included learning about blacksmith, falcons, poetry and all artisan crafts that have developed through the ages. But for Halloween weekend’s game things get…spooky.

“You get a lot of these stories because the doctrine of purgatory develops in the medieval, so the people who are alive are concerned about their family members who have died and might be waiting around to move through purgatory,” says Killian.  

Saturday’s game versus UNC kicks off with the institute throwing a Halloween party! Visitors can decorate pumpkins, but most importantly hear ghost stories! Some of the stories are from the actual middle ages, others are simply about them. Families can enjoy a bit of a scare for their game day festivities. This community involvement and exposure is something the institute is hopeful will continue.

“We want to share that knowledge, we love this period of study, and we hope more people are going to get interested in it as well,” says Killian.

Learn more here.

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