(CNSNews.com) - While receiving an honorary doctorate in law from the University of Notre Dame yesterday, President Barack Obama wore the school’s traditional doctoral robe that is inscribed with a prayer to the Virgin Mary as a reminder that all of the school’s activities are dedicated to the Mother of God.
The robe is inscribed with two copies—one on each breast--of Notre Dame’s coat of arms, which includes the words “Vita, Dulcedo, Spes,” which are part of the traditional Roman Catholic prayer the Salve Regina—or Hail Holy Queen.
“The phrase ‘Vita, Dulcedo, Spes,’ taken from the ancient prayer to the Virgin, the ‘Salve Regina,’ means ‘our life, our sweetness, our hope’ and the combination of these phrases with the symbol for the university indicates the dedication of all Notre Dame’s activities, intellectual, spiritual, athletic, and so on, to Our Lady,” explained the February 1931 issue of the Notre Dame Alumnus magazine.
In April, Notre Dame confirmed to CNSNews.com that it expected President Obama to wear the robe bearing this prayer.
Later, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs told CNSNews.com that he assumed the president would wear whatever was traditionally worn at Notre Dame’s graduation ceremonies. “I honestly don’t know what the dress code is for that day,” said Gibbs. “I can assume that the president would wear what one traditionally wears at that commencement.”
The full prayer says: “Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.”
While wearing this prayer, President Obama talked to Notre Dame’s graduating seniors about his position on abortion.
“Now, understand, Class of 2009,”said Obama. “I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. Because no matter how much we may want to fudge it--indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory--the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction.”