A new statue of St. Francis Xavier, the University’s patron saint, was erected on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at the new roundabout on Ledgewood Drive. Standing 22 feet tall, the statue completes the new entrance to campus as it welcomes visitors who pass the three newest buildings that have been constructed in the last two years.
A ceremony to bless the statue and rename a portion of the road takes place at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2. The ceremony is part of the celebration of St. Francis’ feast day on Dec. 3.
The statue is located in the circle past Smith Hall and the Conaton Learning Commons just north of the intersection of Ledgewood and Dana Avenue. The portion of Ledgewood from Dana to the circle, just before Bellarmine Chapel, is being renamed Francis Xavier Way in honor of the saint. The portion of Ledgewood that intersects with Victory Parkway on the north side of campus remains Ledgewood Drive.
St. Francis Xavier was a close friend of St. Ignatius Loyola, who co-founded the Society of Jesus with St. Xavier in 1540. St. Xavier is revered for his missionary accomplishments particularly in India, Southeast Asia and Japan.
The 11-foot, 3-inch tall bronze statue sits atop an 11-foot base. Though St. Xavier is depicted wearing a standard Jesuit cassock, he wears atypical footwear—Japanese sandals—to represent the years he spent in Japan. St. Xavier is posed reaching out in a welcoming gesture with his right hand while holding a breviary—a liturgical book—in his other hand.
The statue was created by Cincinnati-based artist Tom Tsuchiya. A video of Tsuchiya shows him creating the statue over the past year at his studio.
Tsuchiya’s career began with the creation of another larger-than-life sculpture of the University’s mascot, the 17th-century French Musketeer D’Artagnan. The hero of Alexandre Dumas’ novel, The Three Musketeers, inspired Xavier’s choice of a mascot and the statue now stands in front of the Cintas Center.
Tsuchiya also created the statue of former Xavier chancellor and past president James E. Hoff, S.J., which stands in front of the new dining hall at Xavier. Other art by Tsuchiya includes the statues of four Cincinnati Reds players that greet baseball fans entering Great American Ballpark, the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award for the National Football League and a host of other private and public works.