Okay, class, show of hands: How many of you know the nickname of the statue in front of Corby Hall? A good number of hands–that’s right “Fair Catch Corby.” Now how many of you know what that statue truly commemorates? Hmmm, quite a few hands went down. Take out your notebooks, time for a history lesson.
During the Civil War, Fr. Sorin sent seven C.S.C. priests to be Union Chaplains. Rev. William Corby, C.S.C. was assigned to the 88th New York Volunteer Infantry, nicknamed the Irish Brigade because of the high number of Irish Catholic soldiers.
At the Battle of Gettysburg, shortly before the Irish Brigade was about to take part in the action, Fr. Corby asked the commanding officer if he could address the men. He stood upon a rock and gave a blessing and general absolution. The moment was depicted on canvas in 1891 by Paul Wood, a Notre Dame art student. That painting now hangs in the Snite Museum of Art.
After the Civil War Fr. Corby returned to Notre Dame and became our third president, and was president of Notre Dame at the time of the 1879 fire and the construction of the Main Building we all know.
In 1910 Fr. Corby was honored with a statue on the Gettysburg battlefield depicting that moment. A year later the copy we all know as “Fair Catch Corby” was placed in front of Corby Hall.
In 1963, on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Then-President Fr. Hesburgh celebrated Mass at the statue on the battlefield, so it was in keeping with tradition that current Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C. did the same on June 22, 2013. This time instead of the Irish Brigade, the Notre Dame Club of Gettysburg turned out in force and the Mass was standing-room-only. In his reflections after Mass, Fr. Jenkins reminded us all that among the hundreds of statues and memorials on the battlefield, Fr. Corby’s is the only memorial to a man who never carried a weapon.
Well, class, I hope you took good notes. There will be a quiz later. Until then, here are some photos:
For more images check out the entire gallery.