Notre Dame, Indiana
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Notre Dame, Indiana is the mother church of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in the United States. This Catholic association is part of the Church and is dedicated to serving local educational needs. It is closely associated with three of the best known Catholic-affiliated educational institutions in the United States: Saint Mary’s College, Holy Cross College and the world-renowned University of Notre Dame. Located on the campus of the latter, it is one of the most popular and most visited cathedrals in the Midwest.
The Congregation of the Holy Cross was founded in Le Mans France in 1837. The brainchild of Basil Anthony-Marie Moreau, it was the formed by the merging of two earlier institutions that were born in the oppressive period of the French Revolution. These institutions were formed with the purpose of providing education to those in need, and to help the Catholic Church survive in France in the turbulent years of the early 19th century.
The Holy Cross, supported by the Church, successfully took root in France, and soon missionaries were sent abroad. In 1841, missionaries following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Rose Philippine Duchesne and Anne-Therese Theodore Guerin arrived in the United States. They established the first mission of the order at Notre Dame, Indiana.
Soon after the missionaries arrived, they founded the University of Notre Dame in 1842. This was followed two year later by Saint Mary’s College. Interestingly, the order’s first permanent church was not built until 1848. All of these institutions were founded by Father Edward Sorin. A few decades later the church was replaced by a full-fledged cathedral, which was completed in 1888.
Sacred Heart became nationally known, both as the mother church of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in America as well as its affiliation with the University of Notre Dame. In 1966 the order founded another institution of higher learning, Holy Cross College, with which Sacred Heart is affiliated. In 1992 he church was formally designated as a basilica by Pope John II.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is one of the best known Catholic churches in America, thanks to its association with one of America’s top universities. A neo-gothic structure completed in 1888, it was renovated several times in the 20th century. Its memorable belltower is arguably the most distinctive icon on the campus of Notre Dame University.
The basilica interior is one of the most beautiful in the United States, especially the ceiling. Supported by soaring white columns, the deep blue ceiling is trimmed in gold leaf and adorned with some of the finest church frescoes west of the Atlantic. The basilica is also home to a museum with exhibits on the history of the church and the order. The basilica is particularly busy and popular on weekends when the Fighting Irish have a home game.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is located in the center of the Notre Dame campus, approximately eighty miles east of Chicago. The church is open year round, and the museum is open weekdays from 9:00am-11:00am and 1:00pm-4:00pm. There is no cost of admission. Web: http://campusministry.nd.edu/basilica-of-the-sacred-heart (official website).
Notre Dame, Indiana revolves around its three colleges, all of which are interrelated through the Congregation of the Holy Cross. St. Mary’s College is home to the Sisters of the Holy Cross, one of the best known orders of nuns in the United States.