Greeting students to campus are many time-honored traditions that make Saint Mary’s College truly unique. These iconic features are held dear by generations of alumnae. The following are just a few of the enduring legacies you'll discover at Saint Mary’s.
In the summer of 1855, when the Sisters of the Holy Cross settled here at the current location, Mother Angela Gillespie, CSC was then the director of Saint Mary's Academy and oversaw the planning of the new campus site. One of the most important features of the design was The Avenue, a road lined with maple and sycamore trees. These majestic “old soldiers” provide some of the most enduring imagery of the campus.
The Bell Tower at the center of Le Mans Hall is not only where you can find the best view of campus, but it is a Saint Mary’s staple. At the top of the tower sits a cross, symbolizing the institution. The only time students will tour the tower is during senior week, and when they return for Reunion weekends.
Closing/Opening the Circle
Closing the Circle is an event that first-year students participate in during their orientation as incoming students. It signifies the young women coming together as a class, often with parents and employees of the College looking on. During Senior Week (the week leading up to Commencement), seniors attend Opening the Circle, symbolizing their leaving the College to make a difference in the world through the education and experiences they’ve gained at Saint Mary’s.
Since 1972, the Saint Mary’s College Department of Music has presented its annual Christmas Madrigal Dinner, a Renaissance-style holiday banquet and performance celebration for the Saint Mary’s and greater communities. In true madrigal form, each course of the dinner is announced with fanfare and song as carolers, dancers, jugglers, and more perform.
Atop the iconic Golden Dome at the University of Notre Dame sits Our Lady. In 1882, Saint Mary’s students and alumnae joined our founders, the Sisters of the Holy Cross, in gifting the statue of the Virgin Mary that sits atop the famed Golden Dome—a visible sign of the 178-year-old partnership between our institutions.
Tucked in a grove of trees between Moreau Center for the Arts and Regina Hall sits Reidinger House. Originally built in 1939 as a model house for students learning the finer points of keeping a home, what makes this building truly unique is its size. Everything was built at 7/8th scale—at the time, a cost-cutting measure. Today, this slightly diminutive building is used as guest accommodations for visiting dignitaries.
In their junior year, Saint Mary’s students have the opportunity to purchase the Ring. Our distinctive class ring is an unchanging link for all Belles. The design features the motto for the College, Spes Unica, the French cross, along with the anchors found in the seals of the Holy Cross congregations and the College. Some legacy Belles inherit their Ring from a relative. Belles love their rings, and take them all over the world, sharing their journeys via social media.
After first-years, sophomores, and juniors leave campus for the summer, our seniors stay on to celebrate a full week of activities just before Commencement. Party on the island, a champagne brunch thrown by the Alumnae Association, Bell Tower tours, opening the circle, a senior formal, and handprints in the tunnel, are just a few of the special traditions that await our graduating students.