The replica of the founder of the Jesuits glints golden as it faces the morning sun. He towers above his landscaped surroundings, leaning slightly forward with a stride that seems full of purpose. Cloaked in a robe with a sign of the cross on his collar, his left hand holding a book, he holds his right hand aloft, commanding attention to something important he’s about to say.
The statue was donated by Bernard Downey, Class of 1949, his wife, Jean Ann, and their 12 children, all of whom attended the University. It was cast by the Demetz Art Studio of Ortisei, Italy. The Downeys ordered it at the same time they ordered the St. Francis of Assisi statue that now stands in the garden behind the McDonald Library.
Both statues arrived in November 2000, but St. Ignatius was placed in storage for a year until a decision as to where it would be located was finalized, and the Gallagher Student Center and other projects were more complete, says Jim Jackson, director for development. On Dec. 19, 2001, the statue was placed on the brick base.
The statue is an original casting, called a full-round bronze. Downey says her family likes to donate Demetz statues to the University because of their beauty. “And because we feel Xavier was very good to us, and we would just like to return something.”