53 Years Ago: "Touchdown Jesus" Unveiled


In front of more than 3,000 people, Notre Dame formally dedicated its $8 million Memorial Library on May 7, 1964. The highlight of the event was seeing the completed Word of Life Mural, which featured 329 panels and cost $200,000 to create (equivalent to $1,578,000 in today's dollars).

We know the Word of Life Mural more commonly as "Touchdown Jesus." That nickname was in use by 1971, and probably earlier.

The mural, created by Millard Sheets, was the gift of Howard V. and Evangeline P. Phalin, then of Winnetka, Illinois.

At the time of its erection, the Memorial Library -- later named the Hesburgh Library -- was thought to be the biggest university library in the world.