The University of Notre Dame is a Catholic research university located in Notre Dame, an unincorporated community north of the city of South Bend, Indiana. The name of the university, "Notre Dame," is French meaning "Our Lady," a Catholic salutation in reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the university.
It was founded by Father Edward Sorin, CSC, who was also the school's first president. It was established as an all-male institution on November 26, 1842, on land donated by the Bishop of Vincennes. The university first enrolled women undergraduates in 1972. Today, about 47 percent of the student body is female. Notre Dame's Catholic character is evident in the many Holy Cross priests serving the school (most notably the president of the university), its explicit commitment to the Christian faith, numerous ministries funded by the school, as well as in architecture around campus, especially the Main Building's gold dome topped by a golden statue of St. Mary, a famous replica of the Lourdes grotto, the 134-foot-tall (41 m) mosaic of Christ on the side of the Hesburgh Library (entitled "The Word of Life," but affectionately called 'Touchdown Jesus' because of his upraised arms and proximity to the stadium), and the ornate Basilica of the Sacred Heart, along with numerous chapels, statuary and religious iconography.
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