University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


"A simple but at the same time a deeply interesting ceremony took place on Sunday afternoon at 5 o'clock. At about that hour might have been seen a number of the members of Holy Cross sitting under the shady trees which years ago were planted by good Brother Vincent, near the Farm House (first college building), enjoying themselves in social converse. Fr. Granger occupying one end of the long benches. At a given signal, Brother Columbanus entered the old Farm House, and soon was heard the sound of the once melodious bell that of yore gave forth its peals to the plains and hillsides of Spain, and which now, perched on the roof of the first brick building erected at Notre Dame, has lost none of the full rich resonance of tone out of mind have been renowned. Then, from the Professed House, the Scholasticate, and College came parties of Brothers, three or four in one group, eight or ten in another wending their was across the green prairie, or along the thick hedge of the vineyard to the old Farm House . . . .

"When all had assembled . . . Fr. Provincial led the way to a thick high cedar hedge in the center of which space a large white cross had been erected upon an elevated mound. Before blessing the cross, Fr. Provincial addressed the members of the Community, stating why it was erected on that spot.

"This cross is erected on the ground upon which stood the first chapel at Notre Dame forty years ago (1833). Father Badin, the proto-priest of the United States, an indefatigable missionary, erected a log chapel for the accomodation of the Indians, who had then several camps in the neighborhood, one at Niles, another at Bertrand, another seven miles south, and one at Notre Dame. There were also a few Catholics among the settlers around about. The building was two stories high; the upper one was the chapel, the lower one the residence of the missionaries. Fr. de Seille, a zealous, energetic young priest from Belgium, was the first to reside permanently in this mission. He was very successful in his labors, and was fairly idolized by the Indians. After years of toil, he died in the little room in which he had erected an altar to say Mass -- as the upper chapel was used only when the Indians gathered in force on Sundays and holy days of obligation. Feeling the death was drawing near, and having no one but some of his faithful Indians around him, he dragged himself to the tabernacle in which dwelt the Holy of Holies, and administered Holy Communion to himself as his Viaticum for the long journey to eternity. Then, kneeling in prayer, the bystanders looking on in wonder expecting him to die every minute -- he remained for several hours, and then his soul left its earthly tenement to appear before its Creator, Judge, and Redeemer. He was buried before the altar by his mourning Indians, children, who had flocked from all sides when they heard of his death. The same humble dwelling was occupied by Rev. Fr. Petit, who was also a devoted Indian missionary. He adopted the rude life of his children; he never slept in a bed, but on the bare floor or ground; and when, after he had resided here two or three years, the government removed the Pottawattmies to Kansas, Fr. Petit accompanied his flock. But the many hardships he had to endure on that long journey made on horseback or afoot, were too much for him, and he died in St. Louis on his return from Kansas . . . .

"Thirty-one years ago Father Sorin brought his Community to this little dwelling. Here for some years he said Mass for his small Community and the Indians who refused to go West. Some additional log houses were added to the original log chapel; then the brick house -- now called the old Farm House (first college building) -- was built, and a school established, the beginning of the University of Notre Dame . . . for years -- until -- the old log chapel (1850) enlarged as the Community, students, and parishioners grew more numerous, served as the only place of Catholic worship for many miles around.

"The log chapel was abandoned when the brick church was finished, and it was destroyed by fire in the year 1856." SCHOLASTIC, 7:11

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›