Donated: 1903 by Mrs. Harriet Cramer
Located on the fourth floor of Zilber Hall, this marble statue of Father Marquette is a replica of the statue representing Wisconsin in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol. In 1903 Mrs. Harriet Cramer presented this replica to Marquette College.
Father Marquette was recommended to represent Wisconsin because he was the first to introduce Christian religion into the region, and he was the first to explore the upper Mississippi River as well as a large area of what was now Wisconsin. In 1893 a young Florentine artist named Gaetano Trentanove was invited to design the Father Marquette statue.
In the winter of 1896 the finished monument was delivered to Washington. During this time, however, anti-Catholic agitators known as The American Protective Association circulated the alarm that the Pope was thinking of coming to America to interfere with the democratic principles of the country. Congressman William Linton of Michigan offered a resolution in the House on Feb. 29, 1896, refusing to accept Wisconsin’s gift because it depicted a priest in popish garb with a crucifix in his belt. The bill was pigeonholed until 1904, when the newly formed Marquette Alumni Association championed Congress to officially approve the statue of Father Marquette for the National Statuary Hall Collection.
The controversy over Father Marquette’s statue raised national awareness of his character and made it easy to explain what sort of college had chosen him for its patron. People finally realized he was worthy of the honor that Wisconsin had given him because he devoted his life to spreading the highest ideals of Christianity.