About the Medal
As with the name of the award itself, the medal’s design is inspired by Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical on “The Gospel of Life.” Evangelium Vitae is inscribed on the front of the medal, with the University of Notre Dame seal placed on each side of it. A profile portrait of a young Pope John Paul II occupies the center of the medal. The medal’s inscription, Civilem Veritatis Amorisque Cultum Exstruere—“to build the civilization of truth and love”—is a direct quotation from the encyclical’s closing prayer.
The Visitation is depicted on the reverse of the medal. The warm embrace of the Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth is based on classic images of this mystery, which has great meaning for the culture of life. At the time when the Virgin Mary came to the aid of her pregnant, advanced-in-age cousin Elizabeth, the unborn incarnate Lord was first acknowledged by the unborn John the Baptist. A laurel crown signifying the medal recipient’s achievements for the pro-life cause frames Mary and Elizabeth. The winner’s name and the year are both engraved above the base of the laurel wreath.
The medal was designed by Duncan Stroik, sacred architect and University of Notre Dame School of Architecture professor, and Thomas Stroka, architect, both of South Bend, Indiana. The gold-plated bronze medal was first sculpted in plaster at twice the final scale by the sculptor-engraver Don Everhart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Everhart is a sculptor for the United States Mint who is noted for his design and sculpt of several state quarters and has received awards from both the American Numismatic Association and the National Sculpture Society. A four-inch diameter lead die was cut by Dennis Timm of Northwest Territorial Mint in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The final bronze medal was die struck with 60,000 tons of pressure and plated with twenty-four karat gold at the Northwest Territorial Mint/Medallic Art Company of Nevada, a mint founded in 1903 that fabricates the Pulitzer Prize Medal, the Caldecott Medal, and the National Medal of Science, and has also created eleven official Presidential Inaugural Medals.