University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts

MARTIN, BROTHER (Fiffe) (Pierre Fiffe -- Died April 10, 1934)

"Twenty-one years ago, a young man from Kansas sought admission to the Congregation of Holy Cross. He was 23 years of age and had been around enough to know that he wanted to serve God and not the world. On the 19th of March he was clothed with the habit of a religious and took the name of Brother Martin.

"According to the family tradition, St. Martin of Tours was a member of Brother Martin's family, a family which has given hundreds of priests and religious to the service of God. Two of his sisters are nuns, and two aunts founded convents of Sisters of St. Joseph -- and one of them received her own mother into the convent after their father's death(the mother at the age of 75, received the habit from Cardinal Mundelein).

"The year following his reception into the Community, Brother Martin was assigned to work in the printing office of the Ave Maria, and to prefect in one of to the university dormitories. The intervening twenty years saw Brother Martin develop into one of the most thorough-minded work-men and thorough-going religious at Notre Dame. A Model of fidelity to duty and a keen minded workman, he made over the Ave Maria press-room and equipped it as a thoroughly modern establishment. And after the day's work was over, he took up his duties as prefect in St. Edward's Hall.

"Such men are the salt of the earth. When the history of Notre Dame is written, the names of men like Brother Martin will loom large. He did his day's work -- and his night's work afterward -- for love of God..... He could not stand idleness; he made rosaries in his spare time at night, and even turned his big fingers to delicate painting and embroidery to keep them busy.

"People who cannot understand how Notre Dame can succeed in competition with tax-supported institutions and with heavily endowed private Universities, fail to reckon with their Brother Martins. Father Sorin and the other priests, and Brother Martin and the other Brothers who

have given their lives to Notre Dame, are beyond the comprehension of statisticians who judge of education values by the millions left by people who found no pockets in shrouds. The father Sorins and Father Hudsons, the Brother Valerians, and the Brother Martins, have given to Notre Dame not only the millions of dollars their services were worth in a material way; they have given to this University the spirit of services for the love of God which is worth infinitely more than all the gold in the world, and is something that all the gold in the world cannot buy. It is the salt of the earth.

"Brother Martin died in St. Joseph's Hospital. His immediate illness lasted only a week, and followed an operation. Four years he has been suffering from maladies that would have killed the spirit of less thorough men, but which hardly interfered with Brother Martin's work. He blessed God alike for good health and ill health, and tried to make the most of both."

-- Religious Bulletin, Associate of St. Joseph, 4:4 (1934)

"Brother Martin, age 44, head of the printing room of the Ave Maria at the University of Notre Dame, died this morning at St. Joseph Hospital where he had been ill since last December. At that time he underwent a major operation and on last Tuesday submitted to another and more serious operation. His condition was improving until Monday night when he suffered a relapse.

"Brother Martin was born Pierre Fiffe. He studied in St. Benedict's College, Atchison, Kansas, And came to Notre Dame, March 19, 1913.... He joined the Ave Maria staff in 1914. Brother Martin was prefect of St. Edward's Hall most of the time he spent at Notre Dame, first when it housed the boys' Prep. School, and more recently when it housed university students....

"Reverend John F. O'Hara, C.S.C., (Now Bishop of Buffalo) Vice-President of the University of Notre Dame, this morning paid tribute to the work of Brother Martin. 'He was a fine religious man, was an amiable personality, and was popular in the Community. He was an excellent worker, and the efficiency of the printing room was considerably increased under his leadership,' he said."

-- South Bend Tribune, April 10, 1934

"Countless Notre Dame Alumni, especially in the ranks of former student editors, lost a kind and generous friend when Brother Martin, for twenty years head of the press room of the Ave Maria Press on the campus, died April 10, at the age of 44. Brother's unfailing good humor and understanding gained for him the affection of everyone with whom he came in contact.

"He was born October 25, 1889, in Aurora, Kansas, and attended St. Benedict's College, Atchison, Kansas, before coming to Notre Dame. He entered St. Joseph's Novitiate here March 19, 1913, and made his final profession of vows in the Brotherhood of the Congregation of Holy Cross, August 15, 1916.

"In the meantime he was appointed to the position he held at the time of his death. He was prefect in St. Edward's Hall (residence) almost all his twenty years at Notre Dame, both when the hall was devoted to the minims and prep department and more recently when it was turned over to the University students.

"Brother Martin underwent an operation for the removal of ulcers in December. A week before his death he underwent another operation for the removal of his gall bladder.

"The Reverend J. F. O'Hara(now Bishop of Buffalo, N.Y.) Vice-President of the University, and prefect of religion at Notre Dame, said of Brother Martin, 'He was a very fine religious. He was an excellent worker and the efficiency of the printing office was greatly increased by him. Almost all the new equipment was put in during his time.'

"His hobby was golf and he consistently shot in the 70's on the very difficult William J. Burke -- Notre Dame course, despite the fact that he had only the partial use of one hand." Alumnus May , 1934

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›