Everyone’s heard of the great University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. With great academics, cutting-edge research, and, of course, great sports teams (go Irish!), Notre Dame is one of the most important Catholic universities in the world.

What a lot of people don’t know about the school, though, is that it may have been founded by Gandalf.

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Skeptical? See the evidence for yourself. Here’s the guy who founded the university:

Public Domain, Wikipedia
Public Domain, Wikipedia

Of course, historians will tell us that Gandalf is a fictional character created by J.R.R. Tolkien in the mid-20th century several decades after the founding of Notre Dame, and that the real founder was Fr. Edward Frederick Sorin, CSC.

But wowzers: look at that beard (and the great cassock)! A person could be forgiven for making the mistake!

While he might not have had magical powers, Fr. Sorin was nonetheless an incredible man. A priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, he founded the University of Notre Dame on November 26, 1842 at the age of 28. It was the beginning of a cold midwest winter, and he was poor. But he persevered! He acquired some land donated by the local bishop and started it as an all-male institution. The original name was actually L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac, french for University of Our Lady of the Lake (which apparently remains its full name today).

And he did indeed have an incredible beard. So great that he’s actually been included on lists of great beards.

But for any young men who might be despairing that they may never be able to reach such an achievement, you should know that Fr. Sorin didn’t always have a great beard.

Here’s a photo of him earlier in his life without any beard at all:

Public Domain, Wikipedia
Public Domain, Wikipedia

And here he is with just a neck beard:

via archives.nd.edu
Public Domain, via archives.nd.edu

So there might be hope for you still!

This is only further evidence that behind many of the great things in our world, there was a great beard.

Here are some more great photos of Fr. Sorin and his historic beard:

Public Domain, via www3.nd.edu
Or maybe he was Santa Claus? / Public Domain, via www3.nd.edu

Public Domain, via dailydomer.nd.edu
Or perhaps Dumbledore? / Public Domain, via dailydomer.nd.edu

Public Domain, Wikipedia
Public Domain, Wikipedia

Public Domain, via holycrossusa.org
Public Domain, via holycrossusa.org

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