Georgetown University says it covered over the monogram “IHS”--symbolizing the name of Jesus Christ—because it was inscribed on a pediment on the stage where President Obama spoke at the university on Tuesday and the White House had asked Georgetown to cover up all signs and symbols there.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the “IHS” monogram that had previously adorned the stage at Georgetown’s Gaston Hall was still covered up--when the pediment where it had appeared was photographed by CNSNews.com.
“In coordinating the logistical arrangements for yesterday’s event, Georgetown honored the White House staff’s request to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind Gaston Hall stage,” Julie Green Bataille, associate vice president for communications at Georgetown, told CNSNews.com.
“The White House wanted a simple backdrop of flags and pipe and drape for the speech, consistent with what they’ve done for other policy speeches,” she added. “Frankly, the pipe and drape wasn’t high enough by itself to fully cover the IHS and cross above the GU seal and it seemed most respectful to have them covered so as not to be seen out of context.”
On Wednesday, CNSNews.com inspected the pediment embedded in the wall at the back of the stage in Gaston Hall, where Obama delivered his speech. The letters “IHS” were not to be found. They appeared to be shrouded with a triangle of black-painted plywood.
Pictures of the wooden pediment prior to Obama’s speech show the letters “IHS" in gold. Many photos posted on the Internet of other events at Gaston Hall show the letters clearly.
The White House did not respond to a request from CNSNews.com to comment on the covering up of Jesus’ name at Gaston Hall.
Georgetown, which is run by the Jesuit order, is one of the most prestigious Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States.
Roman Catholics traditionally use “IHS” as an abbreviation for Jesus’ name. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Ignatius of Loyola adopted the monogram in his seal as general of the Society of Jesus (1541) and thus became the emblem of his institute.” The Society of Jesus is the formal name for the Jesuits.
Although the monogram was covered over on the wooden pediment at the back of the Gaston Hall stage where it would have been directly above and behind President Obama as he spoke, the letters “IHS” are posted elsewhere around the hall approximately 26 times on shields representing different parts of the United States and the world.
Obama did not mention the name of Jesus during his address. However, he did mention Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.
“There is a parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that tells a story of two men…‘the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house…it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock,’” Obama said.
“We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand,” he added. “We must build our house upon a rock.”