University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts

PETER, BROTHER (John Fitzpatrick)

"Brother Peter, 45, a novice, from Ireland, usually devoted, but easily irritated; adapted to the farm where he is very useful."

-- Sorin Memo. 1846.

"Council decides that Brother Peter shall be postmaster and storekeeper, and stay accordingly at the Post Office where he will sell books to the Congregation."

-- Local Council. Dec. 21, 1857.

"Professed House -- great need of proposed to the council in 1866. Plan to be made and cost ascertained by Brother Peter. Then to be submitted to Council."

"The South Bend Tribune, 16th instant, had the following to say of good Brother Peter, who calmly expired at 7:30 A.M. Monday last: 'There are few people who have visited Notre Dame within the past quarter of a century that had not seen the cheerful face of the venerable Brother Peter, who took such great pleasure in chaperoning visitors. Brother Peter will be seen no more. He passed to his final reward this morning,

succumbing to the infirmities of old age. He will be buried tomorrow forenoon at ten o'clock. Brother Peter was born in Dublin, Ireland, and came to this country when a boy. He was known to the world as John Fitzpatrick, and was at one time a prominent and very successful merchant at Goshen, Indiana. Death robbed him of his family, and in 1856 he disposed of his business and entered the Brotherhood at Notre Dame, where he had remained ever since. He was a great favorite, not only with the faculty and students at the University, but with those who frequently visited Notre Dame. No one knew better how to conduct visitors about the extensive grounds and buildings, and his manners charmed everyone, while his earnest interest in the affairs of Notre Dame impressed all. Brother Peter was for many years assistant postmaster at Notre Dame and discharged his duties in this trust with the greatest satisfaction. He was born in 1807, and consequently at the time of his death was in his 74th year. His demise will be heard of with feelings of regret by the old students and visitors at Notre Dame. Brother Peter has gone; but his memory will be ever fresh in the minds of those who know him. He has gone to receive that reward for which 24 years passed in the practice of every religious virtue so well fitted him. May he rest in peace."

-- Scholastic,January 22, 1881.

(Gardener and chief usher or Guest Master) "We will now leave Brother Peter standing by his transit and calling out his orders to the man who all, believing firmly in his good taste, seen as anxious to execute his directions as if their very happiness depended on making that little garden (in front of the Main Building) the 'dearest spot on earth to us;"

-- Scholastic, 1868.

"Notre Dame is thoroughly awake, and pushing on the work of improvement with a steady hand. The little garden plot in front of the Main Building, which formerly presented the outline of a heart surrounded by a picket fence in the form of a square has been considerably enlarged, and, under the skillful direction of Brother Peter has taken the shape of a monster balloon, indicative of Notre Dame's intention to rise ever higher and higher, and bear her precious freight of youth up into the higher realms of science and refinement."1868.

"We have just been shown a splendid vertical sun-dial which Brother Peter has constructed for the orphan asylum near Lafayette. Brother Peter has made several such instruments that are remarkable for their accuracy, and are well known to all students and visitors at Notre Dame. The vertical dial that is placed against the front wall of the College is believed to be the only one of its kind in the United States, and this one for the orphan asylum is made of the same size and upon the same principle. It will be an ornament and at the same time of great use for that meritorious institution"

-- Scholastic,November 11, 1876.

"On Monday, Brother Peter, with the assistance of Messrs. Risenman and Winterbotham, laid out with mathematical precision avenues through the park. Visitors to Notre Dame at Commencement will be astonished to see the large field, where last year stood the manual labor school and several old buildings cleared off and converted into a beautiful park."

-- Scholastic,May 9, 1868.

"Contributed a series of articles on astronomy to the Scholastic."


"We admire Brother Peter's skill in engineering since we have seen how nicely the new road to the lake is laid out."

-- Scholastic 7:37 1873.

"We called on Brother Peter the other day and found him busily engaged in drawing a new view of the college and surroundings. It will be a fine drawing when completed."

-- Scholastic, 62, 1873.

"In the Watertown 'Republican' my monthly article on astronomy appears; I furnish one every month, so that will give the whole article of the heavens in a year. Three months of columns or so are out, and have been copied in other western papers....

"Be so kind as to write a little notice of the above for the Scholastic next week so that folks may know that there is one Brother who knows 'peas from beans.' At the fair for St. Bernard's Church I presented one of my paintings, a view of the western coast of Ireland, in a handsome black walnut frame. It was not an hour in the hall when a German gentleman bid $15.00 for it at a word and got it." 1875.

"Brother Peter continues to write up Astronomy in excellent style for the Watertown Republican. Brother Peter writes his articles in a popular style so that they can be read with profit by those who have not been educated in the sciences. We see that the papers in the Northwest quote from the Republican much that Brother Peter writes."

-- Scholastic. May 15, 1875.

"We are pleased to see that Brother Peter is astonishing the people in the Badger State by his learned and highly instructive treatises on the 'Transit of Venus'. We were tempted to transfer them to our Pages, but our limited space will not permit us."

-- Scholastic. Nov. 15, 1874.

"Brother Peter showed us a plan of a splendid Church for Lowell (St. Joseph, South Bend). If the plan is followed, Lowell can boast of a finer proportioned church than South Bend. He also showed us a plan of the addition to the College building which was well delineated."

-- Scholastic. Jan. 11, 1873.

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›