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Rosier Responds: "It's a great rivalry" but don't let the media name it.

Villanova's history department chair was recently excoriated here on for a claim that the name "Holy War," given to the Villanova/St. Joes leg of the Big 5 rivalry was offensive. Below, he responds:

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Here at, we freely let opinions fly on topics of varying importance. When I wrote a defense of the "Holy War" name for Villanova's annual game against St. Joseph's, I specifically called out Professor Paul Rosier, the current Chair of History in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, over an article where he was depicted as a man actively pursuing a campaign to change the rivalry's name.

In fairness to Dr. Rosier, he read our post and offered a response via email, reproduced (with his permission) below:

Hi Brian,

A few followups on the Holy War issue....

It's none of my business if Wildcats fans use the phrase, and in the sports blogs.  I objected to the ways in which the press uses Holy War, always around the holidays, to promote its stories.  And I did so by making a friendly request rather than organizing some boycott or protest; it was the reporter's idea to make a story out of it.

I don't think the Inquirer writer presented all of my arguments for retiring the phrase; he left out several points I emphasized.  For one, I'm a big fan of the team; I go to as many games as I'm able and watch all the rest on TV, including this past Saturday's romp over St. Joe's.  Two, the original opposition came from my belief that highlighing Holy War diminished a great Catholic university that should be known more for its students' work with Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity than religious conflict with other Catholic schools.  Using the language of Holy War runs counter to Villanova's mission statement; as a senior administrator also opposed to the phrase told me, 'such language should have no place in our university.' Many other people here love the team but don't like the phrase.  There's enough violence in the world.

It's a great rivalry, and the idea was, let's come up with one that wasn't created by the media and that still speaks to a great athletic rivalry between two great Catholic universities.

with best wishes,
prof. rosier

Paul C. Rosier, Ph.D. 
Professor and Chair

Department of History
Villanova University
Villanova, PA 19085