On Sunday, July 11, 1943, approximately 1,000 people gathered on the hillside overlooking Victory Parkway, directly in front of Alumni Hall. Cincinnati Archbishop John T. McNicholas was among those gathered, along with Xavier President Celeston J. Steiner, S.J., and a choir of 100 students.
The event was the unveiling and dedication of Our Lady, Queen of Victory and Peace, a shrine dedicated to the Xavier men serving in World War II.
“To the greater glory of God and to the sons of Xavier who serve in the armed forces of our country, especially to those who gave their lives, this shrine is humbly dedicated,” read a plaque affixed to the shrine, which was designed by architect Albert V. Walters and featured a statue of the Madonna, which was created from Bedford limestone by Cincinnati sculptor Ernest Bruce Haswell.
Every day at noon during the month of October, following the start of the academic year, the student body would gather to recite the rosary with the intention of maintaining “a union of prayer with X-men in service throughout the world.”
In 1949, after the war was over and the returning veterans were preparing to graduate, Xavier alumni paid for a plaque to be added to the shrine listing the names of the 75 Xavier students who were killed in World War II and the one causality of World War I. Fifty years later, in 1999, the shrine was extensively restored to its original condition, and 11 more names were added to honor those Xavier alumni who fell in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.
It has been 10 years since the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and plans are being made to update the shrine yet again. On Nov. 11 at 11:00 a.m., the shrine will be updated yet again with the names of the Xavier alumni who were killed in those wars.