Everyone coming to the Cintas Center is greeted by the statue of D’Artagnan, the most famous musketeer in 17th-century France immortalized by Alexander Dumas in The Three Musketeers. D’Artagnan has been Xavier’s mascot since 1925 when Francis Finn, S.J., proposed the musketeer as the University’s mascot to the board of trustees. He proposed the musketeer for two reasons: to preserve the strong ties between Xavier’s French origins and to promote the musketeer’s cultural ideals of devotion and bravery. Yet for almost 40 years, no large representation of the musketeer was present on campus.
The First Musketeer In 1931, the town of Auch in southwestern France, birthplace of D’Artagnan, decided to erect a bronze statue of D’Artagnan in his memory to rekindle the public’s interest in this hero and to attract tourists. It has been a great success because it educates everyone about D’Artagnan, the historical figure known to most only as an almost mythical hero created through literature.
The Second Musketeer Following an article in The New York Times about the statue in Auch, Xavier began exploring the possibility of obtaining a reproduction of the French musketeer for Xavier.
In 1964, after extensive correspondence between Xavier’s musketeer committee and the city of Auch, as well as a personal visit made to Auch by Joseph Bourgeois, chair of the department of modern languages, the mayor of Auch wrote, “Following my recommendations, the City Council of Auch has decided to offer to your university a reproduction, smaller in size, of the statue of D’Artagnan, which stands at the top of the monumental stairway.” Thus, a one-third size of the original D’Artagnan, created by the sculptor M. Tauziède out of reinforced concrete, arrived at Xavier.
Paul O’Connor, S.J., then president of Xavier, responded to the mayor of Auch to thank the city for the gift of Xavier’s musketeer statue: “Please understand that this gesture of friendship will be received with great enthusiasm on the part of the different departments of the University as well as by the student body. We are very proud to be the first and only American university to have adopted the name ‘musketeer’ for our athletic teams. As a symbol of honor and courage, it knows no equal. It will certainly be a source of inspiration to all our young students in all their activities, athletic and otherwise.”
The statue outside on the Academic Mall for 35 years before being placed in storage while the campus was renovated.
The Third Musketeer Since 2000, it is the third musketeer by sculptor Tom Tsuchiya that stands in front of the Cintas Center. This musketeer is better suited to withstand the elements and stands for a long tradition at Xavier.
Margaret McDiarmid is the director for the office of study abroad.