University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


"The house is on an eminence near a small lake surrounded by a meadow and woods of luxuriant growth. The place is happily situated for different purposes connected with the interest of religion in this part of the country where there are already a few Catholic farms, American, Irish, and French. It is the earnest desire of the Bishop soon to see this place redeem its many pledges of extensive usefullness." Catholic Telegraph, Cincinnati, Aug. 7, 1835

Crossing the river we visited St. Mary's of the Lake, the Mission house of the excellent Mr. Badin who has lately removed to Cincinnati. He had a school there kept by two sisters who have also gone away, leaving the place vacant. The 625 acres of land attached to it, and the small lake named St. Mary's, make it a most desirable spot, and one soon I hope to be occupied by some prosperous institution. Memoirs of Bishop Brute, Bayley, 1835

"On Thursday evening we arrived at South Bend, a little town beautifully situated on the high banks of the St. Joseph River. It is growing rapidly, owing to it many advantages. Crossing the river, we visited St. Mary's of the Lake, the mission house of the excellent Father Badin who has lately moved to Cincinnati . . . ."

The population of Indiana which was only 24, 127 in 1810, had increased to 343,031 by 1830. There were several thousand Catholics -- principally German and Irish among the immigrants, but they were widely scattered through the state and this is why, at the time of Bishop Brute's arrival, there were neither priests, churches, nor schools outside of the old Indian Mission stations and the neighborhood of Vincennes. The period of 1830-40, however, was one of extremely rapid growth for Indiana, the population doubling itself during the decade. The need of additional priests was urgent, but the bishop believed that the foundation of Catholic schools was not less necessary. "Without these," he said, "religion can never be fully established."

Besides the Vincennes establishment there were several schools in the diocese at this time (1835). At St. Peter's and St. Mary's churches in Daviess County, under Fr. Lalumiere, schools continued to be taught intermittently even after the sisters' withdrawal . . . The log buildings served as churches on Sundays, and were probably used as schoolhouses during the week.

Bishop Brute, hero of Theodore Maynard's "The Reed and the Rock", first bishop of Vincennes, once confirmed 200 Indians here in a log cabin.

"Under God," wrote Fr. Sorin, "I owe my vocation to Bishop Brute." He died at Vincennes in 1839.

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›