Friday, August 07, 2009

Touchdown Jesus

Millard Sheets (United States, California, Claremont, 1907 - 1989)
The Word of Life Mural 1964
324 panels, of which 189 are precast panel units; the remaining 135 are solid granite and Mankato stone, used for background panels.
134 feet high and 68 feet wide
The Hesburgh Library
The University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana

The Word of Life Mural from Notre Dame Stadium

The "Word of Life" mural on the Hesburgh Library, is commonly known as "Touchdown Jesus" because of the raised position of Christ's arms (in the touchdown position) and its location directly behind the north end zone of the football stadium. It looms over the stadium and is clearly visible from it.

It is composed of various saints and scholars, all looking to the figure of Christ the Teacher. Images of prophets and historical figures in Christianity are in ascending order, with classical and Old Testament scholars near the bottom and Byzantine, Medieval and Renaissance figures at the top.

It is a representation of a passage from the Bible in the Gospel of St John.

"The Word of Life"

In the beginning was the Word:
the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things came to be,
not one thing had its being but through him.
All that came to be had life in him.
and that life was the light of men,
a light that shines in the dark,
a light that darkness could not overpower.

(John 1: 1-5)

Sheets explained that:

"What they asked me to do was to suggest in a great processional the idea of a never-ending line of great scholars, thinkers, and teachers - saints that represented the best that man has recorded, and which are found represented in a library. The thought was that the various periods that are suggested in the theme have unfolded in the continuous process of one generation giving to the next. I put Christ at the top with the disciples to suggest that He is the great teacher - that is really the thematic idea."

It is a pity that we are unlikely to see anything like that in the United Kingdom

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