Notre Dame dedicates G.K. Chesterton collection in London

Author: Dennis Brown

Led by President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the University of Notre Dame hosted a dedication ceremony Oct. 27 at its London Global Gateway to celebrate the acquisition of the G.K. Chesterton Collection, a treasure trove of the writings, personal effects, art and other items related to the life of the renowned 20th-century English Catholic writer, orator, apologist, journalist and literary critic.

Assembled over decades by Chesterton expert Aidan Mackey, the collection has moved from Oxford to the Notre Dame center in central London on Trafalgar Square. The transfer makes the world and work of Chesterton far more accessible to scholars and includes a public exhibit for Chesterton devotees who live in or visit London.

In his prayer of dedication, Father Jenkins said: “We gather today to give thanks for the life and work of G.K. Chesterton and the remarkable dedication and commitment of Mr. Aidan Mackey in compiling this fine collection.

“May Notre Dame’s commitment to educating hearts and minds be furthered by this collection, and may the writings and life of G.K. Chesterton serve as a witness to faith and hope.”

The 100-year-old Mackey, who attended the ceremony, previously said of the transfer, “The collection’s elevation to so prestigious a home as the London Global Gateway is, for me, warming beyond measure.”

Chesterton’s many works include the Father Brown mystery series, the novel “The Man Who Was Thursday,” thousands of short stories, poems and essays, and his defense of Christianity, “The Everlasting Man,” a book that influenced C.S. Lewis in his conversion to Christianity.

Notre Dame’s association with Gilbert Keith Chesterton began nearly 100 years ago. At the height of his celebrity, he visited the University in 1930 to deliver 36 public lectures over six weeks and receive an honorary degree. He attended the first football game at the new Notre Dame Stadium on Oct. 10, which inspired his poem “The Arena.”

Notre Dame offers study abroad opportunities in more than 25 countries and ranks among the top 10 national research universities in the percentage of students who study abroad.

Established in 1968, the London program now hosts more than 400 undergraduates, 50 law students and many graduate students and faculty for a semester, summer or full academic year. The gateway hosts nearly 100 conferences and other events each year and places some 100 students in internships with British and international companies, medical centers, Parliament, nonprofits and other organizations.