Libraries & Spaces
Has the Pope ever visited Georgetown?
In 1936, when Pope Pius XII was still Cardinal Pacelli, he visited the U.S. and was given an honorary degree by Georgetown. The ceremony took place in Gaston Hall, with the audience limited to the senior class. After the degree had been conferred, the class honored the Cardinal with a variation of our college cheer which was normally delivered at sporting events as: Hoya, Hoya, Saxa! Hoya, Hoya, Georgetown! -Team, Team, Team! John G. Bowen (LL.B. 1921, LL.M. 1922, Ph.D. 1933), describes the Cardinal’s reaction in the 1966 compilation, “On the Hilltop: Reflections and Reminiscences on their Campus Years by Georgetown Alumni”: The Cardinal had just come from Paris and seen the turbulence of shouting students in the area of the Sorbonne . . . At the instant the future pope finished his speech, up rose the President of the Yard [the College’s student government]. Waving his fist high, he shouted, “OK fellows. Hit it!” Every man jumped to his feet . . . the Cardinal’s eyes bugged out as he sat terrified. The whole class thundered: “Hoya, Hoya, Saxa! Hoya, Hoya Georgetown! Hoya Pacelli, Pacelli, Pacelli!” and broke into vigorous applause. The Cardinal smiled. Afterward in the President’s office he said: “I think I will start something new. This will be the cheer of the College of Cardinals.” [img_assist|nid=246|title=|desc=Cardinal Pacelli Convocation, Gaston Hall, Georgetown University, October 22, 1936. From the Georgetown University Archives.|link=none|align=middle|width=500|height=272]