University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


1858: "If by this is meant that, besides the society of Brothers, for which, principally, we had been called, we also did what was not asked of us, namely, put up a college and establish Sisters, we grant it; but we cannot see that we were wrong in this, especially when we take the good of the Brothers into consideration; for we have already seen that they gained by the establishment of the other two branches, which took an equal interest in them as in their own members, and which have in fact procured them their best vocations."Sorin Chronicles.

1859: See under "Administration".

(Blessed Virgin Mary; Sorin's 'finis' in his Chronicles) "But of the two months and six days that our journey lasted, I could not point to a single one on which she forgot us and left us in want...this was too significant to be passed unnoticed by young missionaries whose souls were wholly absorbed in one same thought, viz: to make known in the new World the Holy Mother of God, to whom they had consecrated their best love. For her they had left all; for her they wished to spend themselves and be spent to the end of their lives. If she blessed their labors, they did not doubt that their work would be successful.

"Without her they could not account to any man for the first elements of Christianity; they could not even explain to the heathens the Apostle's Creed itself. Like the happy shepherds of Bethlehem, they themselves had been wont to find Mary and Joseph and the Infant. In the same order they intended preaching the Gospel to the Indian and to the citizen of the New World. In their deep conviction Mary was the key to open all the mysteries of the Gospel. How could the son be preached without speaking of the Mother and how could she be made known without being admired and praised and loved?"

See large file for letter in French from Sorin to Bishop Bouvier, 1841.

(Aug. 5, 1841) Sorin, Brothers Vincent, Laurent, Joachim and Marie (F. Xavier) professed; Anselm and Gatian, novices, left Ste. Croix, with 3,000 francs....$600.

See large file for Sorin Memorandum on Brothers Joachim, Paul, Anselm, John Baptist, Anthony.

(Sorin...Member of Grand Council, 1840) Organized on Aug. 22, 1840 composed of the General Councils for regulating affairs common to both Societies; Priests and Brothers, to make annual statements of finances, and to apportion to each its funds, to examine accounts of the General Council, to modify Rules and Constitutions, and to settle difficulties that might arise.

(Sorin as Financier, 1841) "Now Father Sorin had his first experience as a financier. With money for seven instead of eight cabin passengers he called for quarters in the Steerage. The Captain remonstrated. Father Sorin asked, "How much sooner will the cabin passengers get to New York in the steerage? If you will guarantee that the cabin passengers will get there three days ahead of the steerage, then I will go in the cabin."

-- 1841

The captain persisted: 'Mr. Sorin, a man of your rank must not think of taking steerage. Let the Brothers go there but you must have a stateroom'. With characteristic dignity Father Sorin replied; 'If the steerage is good enough for any of us it is good enough for all of us; we will stay together.' and so they did, edifying all by their truly religious life."

-- Illinois Family Annual, James F. Edwards p. 681895.

(Sorin to Hailandiere; 1841) "How long it is to have to wait six months! My body is in France, but my mind and my heart are with you, Bishop. I live only for my Dear brethren of America. That is my country, the center of all my affections, and the object of all my pious thoughts" (on his appointment to Indiana).

(Sorin to Moreau) "We are all pigmies beside you." On the King's Highway, p. 35.

(Rev. E. Sorin)

Born, Ahuille, France, February 6, 1814.
-- Founded Notre Dame, November 26, 1842.
-- Elected Provincial, August 15, 1855.
-- Elected Sup. General, July 22, 1868.
-- Died 1893.

(Sorin... 1841) "Father Sorin left Le Mans. A pious lady of Le Mans raffled her gold chain to assist in paying the expenses of the voyage. By that means she received 1500 francs. Nearly the same amount was added by private gifts"-- 1500 francs: about $289.50...times two because of the gifts -- equals almost $579.00. Total. 1841

(1841-1887) "How forcible it reminds me of our first crossing, 46 years ago! We had started on the fifth of August, the Feast of Our Lady of the Snow, and after full ten weeks of weary traveling by sea and land we hailed Vincennes on the morning of the glorious solemnity of the Divine Maternity." Scholastic, 21:57.

(Rev. J. W. Donahue) "When Bishop Hailandiere made known the needs of his diocese of Vincennes, Father Moreau could not resist his appeal. Though he needed men and money for his struggling foundations in France, he sent his most gallant and best loved captain, Father Sorin, with six Brothers into the wilds of Indiana."

-- The Kings' Highway. Sister M. Eleanore

"If we had come with abundant means we might, humanly speaking, have indeed looked forward to great success....

-- Sorin Circular Letter 1842.

"The season in which we came -- a long and severe winter of five months and of constant snow -- multiplied not a little our trials. Sometimes we found our beds in the morning covered with snow. What a fine preparation for our meditation! 'Blessed are the poor, for they shall see God', not only in Heaven, but even here upon earth....

"Our little Community was never more edifying. Our dear Brothers, of whom only one remains, being obliged for two months to take their night's rest on the bare floor; and yet not a word of complaint. God's holy will was their comfort and unfailing source of consolation and joy." November 2, 1892.

(1842) "Bishop Hailandiere sent for me and told me of extensive lands in the north, offered them to me on one condition, that I would found a college there. I did not want to go, but he insisted and proffered me his horse to ride. I went and it took me a week to get there."

-- Scholastic, 23: p. 273 (Story told to John Breen in 1888.

(Sorin to Moreau; 1842-??) "When we least dreamed of it, Providence permitted that an offer should be made to us of a section of excellent land (640 acres) in the County of St. Joseph, on the banks of the St. Joseph River, and not far from the city of St. Joseph, forming a delightful solitude -- about two miles from South Bend -- which solitude, from the lake it encloses, bears the beautiful name of Notre Dame Du Lac; and besides, it is the center of the Indian missions, the Missions of the Badins, the de Seilles, and the Petits. Tell me, Father, could Priests of Our Lady of Holy Cross and Brothers of St. Joseph refuse such an offer?" 1842-??

See: "Brother John (Cronin), 1842".

"Sorin's companions to Notre Dame, 1842) "Brothers Francis Xavier, Gatian, Patrick, William, Basil, Pierre, and Francis."

-- Silver Jubilee, by Lyons. 1842

(Sorin to Moreau) Letter in French...see large File, 1843.

For copy of "Monthly Reports" (For the Sisters --??) see the Large File.

(Sorin plows etc., Early Notre Dame) "In referring to his early days at Notre Dame, he astonished the members of the Sorin Literary and Dramatic Association by telling them of his feats of plowing, mowing, etc. It seemed strange to think that Father General once followed a yoke of oxen."

-- Scholastic, Dec. 4, 1880.

(Sorin -- Early Notre Dame) "Sometimes when I think of the good that can be done throughout the country, had we a College conducted according to Catholic principles, my desire to erect such a building torments me and disturbs my rest. With my Brothers and myself I presented to the Blessed Virgin all those generous souls whom Heaven should be pleased to call around me, or should come after me. From that moment I remember not a single instance of a serious doubt in my mind as to the final result of our exertions.

-- Scholastic, 28:623.

(Sorin to Hailandiere; 1843 -- Feb.??) Some respectful wrangling about the accounts of St. Peter's. Hailandiere, Sorin says, gladly gave the wagon in order to have much less to pay on what Hailandiere would take over at St. Peter's. Now the wagon was worth much less than when Sorin bought it, and one of the horses, Thome, has just died. But Sorin will agree to whatever the Bishop decided as to the accounts at St. Peter's.

Sorin had bought only 200,000 bricks for $400. 'Our resources are the $500 you gave (just sent us); $117 that the Brothers brought from St. Peter's; 4,000 francs that Moreau sent us three weeks ago. On the $600 due for the farm at St. Peter's (bought at St. Peter's) $100 is paid, leaving a debt of $500, which I shall be obliged to pay with the money at present in hand, if you do not believe you can do it with $301 which you have, the $100 at the bank, and the amount which you consent to take at St. Peter's. $200 are to be paid to Mr. Hayes, as soon as possible, although he promises to wait, and the $300 next August. Perhaps the land will be sold by then. all the Brothers have arrived with very good luck traveling."

-- Provincial Archives, Sorin Correspondence, II.

(Sorin to Hailandiere; 1843 --?) Notes about building college at Notre Dame...etc. See the large file.

(Sorin on Brothers' School; Feb. 2, 1844) (Sorin to M. Alphonse de la Boullerie, President of Central Council of the Propagation of the Faith: "An Event of this nature (University Charter) recalls many other benedictions of Heaven on our work. At the same time it shows the interest; of the assistance; of the government. We can say with truth, thanks to your charitable assistance, Mr. President, that especially during the last few months we have become a subject of astonishment to the whole country. We arrived seven in America, twenty eight months ago, and now we are nearly 50; priests, Brothers, Sisters and orphans. From all sides they ask for our Brothers. Five free schools are already opened and seem to be accomplishing the greatest good. Besides the ordinary schools, the Brothers have a Manual Labor School of which four departments are already operating. This school makes us daily more popular with the Protestants.... A few months ago he had hardly a roof to shelter our family and now people come from all points to admire the magnificent Catholic college of Notre Dame du Lac, to which title it has just received from the legislature will add new luster -- It is the only establishment of its kind which exists in the United States."February 2, 1844

(Sorin and St. Croix...Finances.. 1845) Brothers Philbert and Leopold report on difficulties between Ste. Croix and Notre Dame on finance. Council decides that Sorin must accept 'fairly and justly' its decisions before Ste. Croix does anything else for Notre Dame. 1845

As the American foundation is the first to which Ste. Croix sends priests, Brothers and Sisters, exclusively at its expense, Notre Dame will be dispensed, contrary to last decree of previous meeting, from paying 400 francs for each subject, as prescribed by Constitution of the Brothers, but at the close of the annual accounts.... Ste. Croix maintains her right to apply to American foundations the article of the Latin Constitutions concerning money it may raise....

-- General Council, June 13, 1845.

(Sorin's First Circular; Oct. 13, 1845) "But before I close my retreat I would have you know what manner of care I have for you all without any exception of persons. Being deprived of the daily communications of our Saintly Founder, I thought it would be equally gratifying and beneficial to you all to receive as a token of his great solicitude for us all his own explanation of the method of meditation."

-- General Archives. Oct. 13, 1845

(Sorin, Visitor; April, 1848) "Absent all the month from Notre Dame. In Cincinnati he purchased groceries, sugar, apples, coffee and rice (10,000#) costing in all $600.

-- 1848

"Visited Madison school. Spent 8 days in Detroit. At Vincennes where he found Bishop Bazin very friendly to Notre Dame. Obtained from him permission to move Novitate from Indianapolis. In Louisville he found we should care for the house or abandon it."

Sorin named Provincial in 1852.

(Sorin...Ste. Croix; Sept. 3, 1846) Sorin arrived August 22 from France; attended General Chapter. Says trip was great mistake of his five years' administration. Alarmed at debts, no money. Sorin to be steward. Owes 10,000 francs, due February 2, 1847, with two years' interest. Counted on Propagation to repay it but arriving learned Granger had already received some, which he spent paying current bills. Has received nothing from Badin. 1846

"With Sorin came Brothers Placide, Theodule, Benoit, and a novice- postulant, M. Garnier.

"French Government gave 3,000 francs to defray Sorin's expense in taking the colony.

"Left June 21, arrived New York, Aug. 21, Ocean calm, slow crossing. At Notre Dame, Aug. 24."

(Sorin on Boarding Schools) see in Large File under "Sorin".

(Sorin to Bishop Hailandiere, etc., 1846) See: St. Mary's, Kentucky, 1846 -- Mixed Schools -- Sorin-Moreau, 1844 -- Early Notre Dame, 1842 onward -- Sorin's reply -- Notre Dame, to 1866.

See: Bishop Hailandiere to Sorin.

(Sorin Correspondence; Early Notre Dame, 1847) "At the general retreat of August 23, 1847, Father Superior (Sorin) spoke against the correspondence of the Brothers with Father Rector, in a manner that troubled and scandalized the French Brothers. He prohibited correspondence with Father Rector, which is absolutely unconstitutional. The same discourse has been repeated since but in stronger terms. Father Saulnier, who came here later, was consulted as to what ought to be done. He said that the Rector ought to be informed without delay." This was done.

"Father Superior very unconstitutionally threatened those who wrote to Moreau and said he would put a stop to all correspondence with the Mother House. This angered the Brothers very much and they endeavored to defeat his plans."

(Sorin.. Travel; 1847) "Father Superior asked whether he might not go to Canada and was answered unanimously in the negative, but the Council said he might go to Detroit"--(two dates give) Minor Chapter, Aug. 27, 1847 also was given; Minutes, Sept. 14, 1847.

(Sorin to Bishop Purcell; 1848) "Oh, how happy I would feel to see my dear Notre Dame du Lac somewhere about Cincinnati.... I heartily desire you procure me as soon as possible an introduction into your diocese; of its being a blessing to our society, I remain perfectly confident, and I feel equally certain that I will do my best to make it beneficial to the class of Society to which I have devoted my life.... I do not mean that I would abandon Notre Dame du Lac entirely; but I must admit that the same exertions might be far more useful in Cincinnati.... In the meantime, I hope you will not lose sight of my request nor your promise concerning the candidates you may find for our novitiates."

(Sorin and the General Council, Aug. 26, 1850) "General Council blames Sorin for the buildings he began without approbation required by the Rules, and it abandons all present constructions to his own responsibility. Aug. 26, 1850

"Decides that no house, no matter by whom founded, can by right depend on any other than the Mother House.

"Gouesse is the Local Superior at Notre Dame, but Ste. Croix 'gives Sorin inspection and direction of it'".

See also "J.F. Edwards".

On August 27, 1857, Sorin installed as Superior of House at Notre Dame, and Vicar of the Vicarate of Indiana at extraordinary meeting of all the members of the house at Notre Dame under the presidency of Father Moreau.August 27, 1857

(Sorin to Moreau) "Today Notre Dame is 'one of the largest and finest colleges in the United States'".

-- Provincial Archives, Mar, 23, 1854.

(Sorin's renewal of 1855) "This year will always remain as one of the most remarkable in the records of the mission. More than any other it was marked by blessings and by trials, by joys and by crosses. The death of Brother John of the Cross.. renewed all the agonies of the previous autumn; the financial embarrassments of Notre Dame; the continuance of the fatal epidemic; the well founded fear that the place would be judged unhealthy -- which would mean certain destruction; the compulsory acquisition of the Rush property in order to lower the lakes and thus dry the surroundings...the donation meanwhile of Mr. and Mrs. Phelan, which, although not immediately filling the treasury, supplied a fund to meet such claims as were urgent; ...the opening of retreat...The spirit of piety became established, peace reigned without interruption, and the house was really a regular and edifying community."

-- Sorin Chronicles. 1855

Sorin's Defense: 1858: see under "Notre Dame".

(1858) "Very Rev. Ed. Sorin, C.S.C., Superior General of the Vicarate of Indiana. University of Notre Dame...Very Rev. E. Sorin, President.

-- Catholic Almanac. 1858

(Sorin and the Brothers, 1859) See under "Administration".

(Sorin and the Brothers, 1858) See under "Brothers and Sorin".

(Sorin and the Brothers, 1859) "Writes a letter to Archbishop Purcell submitting a plan that where a number of Brothers are employed, as in Cincinnati, one priest could be put there to guide them, direct the schools, etc."

-- Provincial Archives. 1859

(Sorin -- Vincennes, 1859) "Sorin has not the favor of the Bishop of Vincennes, as Sorin has constantly refused to give him Brothers, although the Brothers were asked for the Vincennes Diocese." Father Drouelle, Visitor to Father Moreau, May 20, 1850; General Archives. May 20, 1850

(See also Bishop Hailandiere to Sorin" cards)

(Sorin and Education, 1859) "Sorin wrote Archbishop Purcell of Cincinnati for advice. Says demands for teachers are so numerous and so urgent that it seems to call forth on our part every effort possible to meet at least some of them. Thinks of giving up all missionary work and pastoral duties and consecrating to one single purpose the exclusive attention of our Congregation in the country on education." 1859

(Sorin Vocation appeal -- German -- 1860) "How much the training of Catholic youth is suffering for want of good teachers is a well known fact. In spite of earnest efforts only partial success has been achieved in removing this crying evil. Although besieged daily with requests, it is impossible for us to satisfy even the smallest part of the urgent appeal for teaching Brothers made us by the reverend pastors, because only a few candidates present themselves for entrance to the Novitiate for teaching Brothers. We have just finished building a larger house for our novices and expect to occupy it by the end of the month. Now there is question of filling it with good and pious young men." 1860

(Sorin...Provincial plus Local Superior, 1862) "The Rev. Father Visitor (?) declares that Father Sorin, being at once Provincial and local Superior at Notre Dame, must fulfill all the duties of a Local Superior, and consequently preside at the Council of Administration and vote like the other members."

-- Local Council, July 14, 1862.

(Notre Dame to 1866; Sorin on the Blessed Virgin) "...Notre Dame and what has sprung from it stands without doubt as the work of our glorious and Immaculate Virgin Mother.Sorin Chronicles. 1866

(Sorin -- Circular from Paris; Dec. 31, 1868) "Another consideration goes a great way with me to prefer the scenes of my missionary life. Here, priests and religious are almost too numerous; there is no room to move in, but a narrow circle for each; nothing for one to do which could not be done as well, and often better by another; it makes one feel even too much how easily the world could dispense with his assistance. Not so with us in America, not one soul too much; we never have enough of good hands. The humblest and the most unpretending, if animated with a good will, can give glory to God.

"Had we not come over to these distant shores, who could tell how many precious souls, either already gone to everlasting enjoyment, or rejoicing among us in the knowledge and love of truth, who would have been left seated in the darkness of death! Who could enumerate the legions our little Congregation will continue to drill, under its glorious standard of the Cross, for the armies of the Lord? Ah! how admirable are the ways of the Lord:...

"Whilst at sea for the first time (1841) we sent to heaven a dear little soul, only two years old, who otherwise would have never seen God. happy fortunate little Mary! She was the first fruits of our mission.

"Good Brother Vincent should not forget in his old age his precious god-child, now in the company of her Blessed Patroness since 27 years and 5 months."

-- Dec. 31, 1868

(Sorin Circular on Schools; Provincial Archives; 1875) "I particularly intend to weigh, to compare, and to set down the relative value or capacity of the various Heads of our Houses, and to classify them as the end of the ten months as they personally merit -- their success, the standing they shall have secured for their establishments, the spirit of regularity and devotedness, the piety and efficiency they shall have created or increased in all their associates, the good name they shall have gained to the Congregation as a teaching body; the blessings, in a work, which God will have bestowed on their exertions this year.... I thus give all a fair warning, and shall see that everyone receives credit in full as deserved."

-- Circular Letter: E. Sorin, C.S.C. Superior General. 1875

(1877) "When I came here at the request of the Bishop of Vincennes in the fall of 1842 with my little community of seven Brothers, I brought no money, nor any other human means of success, and yet our hopes were very great; we meant nothing less than the establishing here a Congregation of Priests and Brothers to take charge of every family in the district, whether among the whites or among the Indians; to erect college for the higher class of Society and to multiply our teaching Brothers for the parochial schools throughout the country."

-- E. Sorin, July 6, 1877.

(Early Notre Dame and Father Sorin, etc.) "The famed 'temple' of the Mormons at Salt Lake City is built of stone quarried in the distant mountains and transported, shaped, and placed by hand; its cost in labor is estimated at millions of dollars. But the task of Father Sorin and his co-laborers was even more gigantic. The malaria infected swamp land was reclaimed; the indefinite boundaries of the lakes were fixed; barren tracts of flags and sedge gave way to forests of oak and maple and the barren sand dunes were forced to yield a harvest of grain. The result is not measured in dollars but lives. There are many priests and Brothers whose memories, fading with the years, are woven with their lives into the being of Notre Dame." Scholastic, 32:4

(Self-denial) "Of the mental and physical strains which he endured during the first few years of his life here; of the examples of his heroic sacrifices and the instances of his self-denial -- at one time exchanging his dry clothing for the wet garments of a Brother who brought their provisions from Niles, at another time gathering fire wood in mid-winter, or trudging through deep snow to light a fleeting spirit on its way -- of these sweet deeds of charity no formal record remains. They are the heritage of his beloved family, and the good old Brothers, who have survived those days, still hold in affectionate remembrance the traditions which cluster around the old settlement, and love to recount past dangers and trials for the edification of novices, who now throng from every land to swell the ranks of Holy Cross."

(Anna Sadlier.. 1917..Tribute) "A monument near the entrance of the University erected to his memory bears also the names of the Brothers who accompanied him the (in) beginning; Brothers Vincent, Joachim, Francis Xavier, Lawrence, Gatian, Anselm -- immortal all of them! By their industry, talent, saintliness, and laborious service they made possible that foundation.

"It would be a pleasant task to recall the name and fame of the fathers and Brothers who continuing down all the strenuous years to the present in the footsteps of their saintly founder, have built stone by stone that splendid edifice, and fashioned as skillful, craftsmen the souls committed to their care after the eternal model....

"In that apotheosis of the great University due need of praise must be given to the Brothers of Holy Cross. Those saintly men, those indefatigable laborers, often those highly intellectual, those scholarly religious, from the days of Father Sorin have aided in the foundation, the development, the advancement of the Congregation of Holy Cross and of Notre Dame. That is a noble and holy vocation for those who do not aspire to the priesthood, and who yet, under the vows of religion, have presented to them so wide and varied a field of usefulness. All the mechanical arts are practiced by these auxiliaries. Every trade has its representatives among them. They are teachers, excelling very often in the science of pedagogy, and as secretaries, press men, typesetters, printers, they assist in sending forth those publications, which have attained so remarkable success. Or as agents they go through the country to make those periodicals known and to obtain hosts of subscribers. As farmers and agricultural teachers they are unrivaled.

"To the pupils of the institute and friends who have visited Notre Dame, the name of many a Brother will readily recur, as having worthily played his part in the grand whole."Scholastic, 51:133. 1917

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›