University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


A banquet was tendered to Brother Florian, the popular prefect of St. Joseph's Hall, to commemorate the 34 anniversary of his receiving the habit, and the silver jubilee of his profession. It was a feast of oratory as well as of good things that cheer. SCHOLASTIC, 43:46, 1909

ART TOURS AT NOTRE DAME -- With the aid of some of Notre Dame's accountants and a stub pencil, it has been determined that the exact total of visitors attending the University's art museum during the period between July 1st -- and Dec. 21st of 1920 is 8,557, exclusive of students. Brother Florian has therefore conducted fifty people a day through the local art institute, if one could speak of anything average in connection with the venerable guide . . . .

Brother Florian has handled visitors at the art museum since the galleries were opened about four years ago. Here is said to be one of the greatest collections of old Masters in America . . . . . . .

In the old days before the Library Building, the art collection was scattered throughout the various halls of the college. Many canvasses had been stored away, but the method of cataloguing them had created confusion. One painting in particular, hidden in the damp dust of the Main Building storeroom, had been lying around for several years, and it showed the results of the abuse . . . A few years ago when Fr. Gregory Gerrer, O.S.B. looking over the collection, came upon the painting he discovered in it a genuine Murillo -- which on retouching turned out to be the "Nativity." SCHOLASTIC, 54:226

Brother Florian was born in Kilfy, Co. Mayo, Ireland, in 1850. On September 17, 1876 he received the holy habit and later, on August 15, he was professed.

Soon after taking the habit he became a teacher in the parish school here. Later he taught at Vincennes, and from there he went to Springfield, Illinois, where he remained for many years. He next taught at Milwaukee and later in Ft. Wayne. At the latter place he was stationed many years.

In 1906 he returned to Notre Dame where he became rector of St. Joseph's Hall, now Badin Hall. He occupied this post until eight years ago when he received the post of guest master. While acting in this capacity, he made many friends and won much praise for the work which he accomplished.

During the last part of the summer he became ill, and was confined to his bed. His condition grew steadily worse until his death, which was not unexpected. NOTRE DAME DAILY, October 30, 1923

In the midst of home-coming joy, there will be many of the old fellows who will remember the guardian angel of Brownson and St. Joseph's Halls, good old Brother Florian.

Brother Florian was the very spirit of home-coming; in his great, genial body, he embodied all the traits which the returning Notre Dame men finds most attractive and most lovable in his alma mater. To those who went to him for advice, for a faculty cigar, or merely for the opportunity to enjoy his lovable and unique companionship, this homecoming, because of the absence of Brother Florian will be in part incomplete. SCHOLASTIC, 58:114

Last Saturday death swooped down on Notre Dame. Yesterday morning the funeral of Brother Florian took place at Notre Dame. Tumbled threads of memory will vibrate poignantly in the breasts of undergraduates and generations of alumni most of whom felt the kindnesses or knew the mellow smiles of this wrinkled worn figure.

The life of Brother Florian was a golden moment of Christian charity. As rector for 15 years of St. Joseph's Hall -- the Badin Hall of today -- this nobleman of Christ wound himself inextricably into the lives of the motley throng that at some time or other inhabited old St. Joe. Home-coming will have a pathetic message for these men, now scattered up and down the coats of life, who once a year, mayhap once in a long, long time, meet upon familiar paths that lead back upon the reminiscence of faded youth.

For the old grads the wistful countenance of "Flo" was a treasure. He was a magician that could paint the past in rich, vermillion tints. His voice was the elixir that could touch careworn age with Promethean fire. His want represents the power of love and devotion. His soul was the window of sweetness and light.

To "Flo" the hand of friendship counted more than the touch of wealth, or the intoxicating taste of honors and greatness. He lived in the bosom of mercy, and many a man has "Flo" to thank for standing between him and his transgressors.

Those of us who have experienced the splendor of "Flo" friendship have a jewel that cannot be stolen or destroyed. He had a lovely nature, soft as twilight to share with any disheartened wayfarer. In a world that in places seems more or less ungodly, he pierces the gloom with the homely glow of memory.

God grant him the rest he so notably earned. NOTRE DAME DAILY, October 30, 1923

It was hinted to the writer that in those days it was not uncommon for Brother Florian, the rector (St. Joseph's Hall) to intercede for the residents when they happened to get into scrapes. Brother Florian was, from all indications, a real disciplinarian and a real friend of these men. His intercession on behalf of the residents indicates that he must have taken an active interest in the welfare of his charges. SCHOLASTIC, 63:889

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›