I got several answers for the quiz in the last post about holiday's during the school year at Notre Dame via the comments section and via my page on Facebook, but only one of them was right:
Congratulations to Robert Redd for the correct answer: St. Patrick's Day was NOT a school holiday at Notre Dame in the Civil War (and not since its founding and not until a decade after the war!)
I'll contact Robert directly about his prize. Robert also maintains some great blogs, including Confederate Book Review, so check it out!
In this post are are photos from Notre Dame's 1863-64 annual catalogue. St. Edward's Day was celebrated as it was the patron saint of the school's founder, Fr. Edward Sorin; Easter Monday as a one-day respite from the Easter holiday, perhaps to allow some students a chance to return to school from a short holiday at home.
Washington's Birthday was always a special day at the University of Notre Dame; Fr. Edward Sorin admired him very much and he also felt that by celebrating the day he could change the minds of people who were suspicious of the allegiance and patriotism of American Catholics.
As for St. Patrick's Day: while the student population at Notre Dame had taken on a decidely Irish character by the time of the Civil War, the school was in fact founded by a French contingent, led by Fr. Sorin. A humorous episode recounted in Notre Dame's centennial history explains more:
Father Sorin, in the interest of Americanism, once forbade any special celebration of St. Patrick's Day. In particular he announced that there should be no "wearing of the green." Two young novices, Dave O'Leary and John Quinn, were so aroused by this "unjust" order that they went to the chapel, extracted the green ribbon from the missal, cut it in two, pinned it on their surplices, and marched into the sanctuary. For this act of disobedience they were promptly expelled. Father Sorin, reflecting on his hasty action, sent some one running to the Novitiate, telling the boys they might remain. O'Leary did stay on. But Quinn said: "By gum! I've been fired! And I'll not stay!" Years later, Quinn returned, a fine priest and a noble Monsignor, to deliver the baccalaureate sermon, in what was interpreted as a vindication of the "Irish Rebellion."
Congratulations to Robert and stay tuned for more information about Notre Dame in the Civil War!