Notre Dame Stories: Tantur: Hill in the Holy Land, Episode 1: Origin Story

Author: Andy Fuller

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In the first episode of this four-part series, we trace the origins of Notre Dame’s presence in Jerusalem back to the events of the late 1950s in the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council inspired a warming of relations between various Christian traditions, a movement memorialized by Pope Paul VI, who famously embraced Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in 1964, ending centuries of excommunication between East and West.

On the momentum of that embrace, the pope would turn to his friend in Catholic higher education, Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., to take on an ambitious and unprecedented project: the establishment of a center for intra-Christian scholarship and dialogue in Jerusalem.

The task was no small feat to begin with, and many unforeseen obstacles only added to its daunting nature. Not the least of these unexpected turns was the Six-Day War, which literally changed the country in which the institute would be located.

Eventually, in 1972, the Tantur Ecumenical Institute was inaugurated at a spot between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The dream of ecumenical scholarship was born on 36 acres of land that sit amid some of the holiest sites in Abrahamic religion.

Listen to the rest of the series now at…in-the-holy-land/.

To learn more about Notre Dame's presence in and around Jerusalem, visit

Notre Dame Stories highlights the work and knowledge of the University's faculty and students. This podcast features interviews with Notre Dame faculty members who can lend insight into some of the major national and international stories of the day, as well as pieces that show the breadth of the life and research at the University.

Listen to more episodes here.