St. Edward the Confessor
St. Edward the Confessor was one of the great kings of England. Because he is patron saint of University founder Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., today is traditionally a day of celebration for Notre Dame.
Edward was born to royal parents who were sent to Normandy, France, during a time when Danes controlled the nation. When Edward’s father returned to England, he was arrested, tortured, and killed, so Edward remained in Normandy until 1042, when the political situation had resolved and he was called to ascend as king. He was 40 years old.
Edward had to contend with opposing factions both inside his court and in Normandy, but ruled justly and faithfully. He won the hearts of his people with his peaceful negotiations and statesmanship. One of his notable acts: to give to the poor money from the tax that was collected for the army.
It is said that Edward was well-built with a red face behind a white beard and hair. He received travelers and the poor and showed them great hospitality, and was known for supporting monks. One biographer described him as “a man by choice devoted to God… He was so gentle that he would not say a word of reproach to the meanest person.”
Edward loved to hunt and quarry prey with his hawks, and would spend days in the field, but these diversions never prevented him from attending daily Mass.
Edward died of an illness in 1066, and his relics rest in the reliquary chapel in the Basilica. St. Edward’s Hall, a men’s dorm next to the golden-domed Main Building, is named after this English king because he was patron saint of Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., founder of the University. The stained glass window above comes from the chapel in that hall, and this statue of St. Edward stands in the courtyard in front of the dorm; he holds a model of the Basilica in his hand.
Today marks Founder’s Day for the University. In the early years of Notre Dame, students and faculty wanted to honor Father Sorin on his birthday, but he preferred a University-wide celebration on his patron’s feast day. Classes were cancelled, and the day was marked by games, performances, and a feast. Today the University marks Founder’s Day with a special Mass in the Basilica, celebrated by University president Father John Jenkins, C.S.C. For more about the history of Founder’s Day, watch the video below.
St. Edward the Confessor, patron saint of Father Sorin, pray for us!