University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


"The earliest mention of scholastic instruction being provided in the old French town was in 1786, when the pastor, Father Gibault wrote to the Bishop of Quebec that he taught the children not only Christian Doctrine but also reading and writing"--Burns: Kohlbrenner, "A History of, etc." p. 35, 1937.

(Name) "The town of Vincennes, Indiana, was so named from a French officer, M. de Vincennes, who accompanied an expedition to protect the friendly tribes in the Wabash area, where the Jesuits had established the mission of St. Francis Xavier, and was slain together with the Jesuit Father whom he accompanied"--"Catholic Family Annals"-- 1886, p. 112.

(1792-on) "When the Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget, an exiled French Sulpician, afterwards the first Bishop of Bardstown, arrived at Vincennes on December 21, 1792, one of his first acts was to reopen the school, the parish having been, since the departure of Father Gibault three years before, without a priest, and probably also, during much of this time, without a school. Father Flaget taught the school himself, and his idea was that the pupils, while learning the commercial branches, should be trained up to agriculture and trades:--Burns: "Principles, etc.," p. 178.

"The second brick building erected in Vincennes was the old seminary, which occupied four of the present city squares. This seminary was built in 1807 and was intended for use of common schools. It was sold by the school authorities in 1839 to Bishop de la Hailandiere, who started St. Gabriel's College there under the management of the Eudist Fathers, who conducted the college until 1844, when they left the diocese and went to New Orleans. It was then converted into an orphan asylum, and so continued until the orphans were removed to Terre Haute. The seminary was then turned over to the Sisters of Providence, who established there St. Rose Academy"--"History of Vincennes"-- Henry S. Cauthorn, 1901.

"The Sisters of (Nazareth, Kentucky) established an academy and school at Vincennes and also at St. Peter's"--Burns, "Principles" p.240.

"Although abandoned by the Sisters, the schools established at Vincennes, formed the starting point of the subsequent Catholic School development in Indiana. It was to St. Peter's that Father Sorin with the Brothers of Holy Cross came in 1841 . . ." Ibid.

"School of Sisters of Nazareth (Kentucky) closed early in 1834, reopened in 1835. Owing to spiritual deprivations exacted of them they withdrew early in 1834. Bishop Brut brought them back. Diocese restricted to Indiana when Chicago was established in 1844."

(Travel) "He started from here (Vincennes) on Monday, Dec. 28, and it must have taken him until Wednesday the 30th to reach Indianapolis"--H.S. Cauthorn, "History of S.F.X. Cath."-- 1835.

"Small as the place was, an educational system was thus set up at Vincennes which comprised complete elementary, secondary, and higher educational provisions for both male and female pupils, and which it was intended should serve as a model for the diocese"-- Burns: "Principles, etc." p. 352. (1836).

"St. Gabriel's College -- named for Bishop Gabriel Brute -- opened October 3, 1847. Father Vabret, Eudist, President"--Cathedral of St. F.X. History"-- Cauthorn; p. 175.

1841-1846: See "Audran, Rev. E.," and "Brothers' Houses," 1846.

(1834-1840) "Between 1834 and 1840 the population of Indiana doubled. 1839, Hailandiere, Bishop; a seminary, college, academy for girls, and about 24 elementary schools. Catholic population, about 25,000. Sisters of Charity from Kentucky, 1824, opened school and academy. In 1840 Sisters of Providence came.

"With the money he had obtained in France Bishop Brute at once established an ecclesiastical seminary, as well as St. Gabriel's College for secular students. . . . Two Free Schools were also opened at the same time, one for the boys, and the other for the girls . . . Small as the place was . . . (Burns: "Principles, etc." p. 352).

(1839-1941) "For two years the Brothers of St. Joseph had been expected at Vincennes, and during all that time it had been impossible for Father Moreau, their Superior General, to comply with the urgent requests of Msgr. de la Hailandiere. At last, on August 5, the feast of Our Lady of the Snows, the first colony took its departure, after a most impressive and touching ceremony. The novelty of the event had attracted a numerous gathering of the patrons and friends of the house. On the occasion Father Moreau seemed to surpass himself, and he communicated to his entire audience his own emotions. . . .

"Novices of 15: Brothers Gatian and an Anselm, who were intended to become teachers."--Sorin's Chronicles.

(Arrival at Vincennes) "It was October 10, 1841, at 9 a.m., that we arrived, the 9th Sunday since embarking and the 24th day since leaving New York. We made what is called a forced march to have Mass at Vincennes. We had walked for 3 1/2 hours and were all exhausted, but at the sight of Vincennes the feeling of fatigue gave way in a few minutes to a thousand other sentiments. We quickly regained our strength and in a few minutes were at the Cathedral . . .Then we went to the Bishop's house. To tell you that we were received as beloved children, and long desired by the best of friends is to tell you nothing"--Letter of Father Sorin at St. Peter's, Oct. 14, 1841.

"Hailandiere required the Brothers to take over the school at Vincennes. Brothers Vincent and Anselm sent in November, 1841. Large school and free. 80 pupils, mostly Canadians and Catholic and 5 or 6 Protestant Americans. Class room half underground, unhealthy; when it rained, filled room with water. Hailandiere refused to do anything about it. But Bishop Bazin immediately gave another place opposite the Cathedral -- an old frame house, but healthier. Bazin died in 1848. St. Palais, administrator, thought one Brother enough, but Sorin stuck to the agreement made with Bazin, requiring two Brothers. Hence school closed in July, 1848.

"Brother Vincent taught in it, 1841-43. Population, 3,500, half Catholic, rest Methodist, Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Negroes. Vincennes school most suitable for the Brothers, but instead disagreeable, least encouraged, and fruitful. A fine school could have been established there."

(1841) "Without any pre-arrangement on our part, we had left Le Mans, our dear home, well on the 5th of August -- the Feast of Our Lady of the Snows -- and without any delay or accident, we reached our journey's happy end in Vincennes in time to celebrate Mass on the Sunday dedicated to the Divine Maternity . . . a clear evidence that our Blessed Mother had taken our little band of 7 devoted, humble, servants under her own special care, and that she would see to our wants if she found in our breasts grateful and loving hearts"--Circular Letter of Sorin, October 1, 1889.

See: Brother Michael

Hailandière to Sorin (under Hailandière)

Sorin to Hailandière (under Sorin)

Moreau to Hailandière (Under Moreau)

"Vincennes school opened by Brother Vincent, December 16, 1841. Soon 85 pupils. Well trained, walking two by two into Church, orderly."

"(July 18, 1847) Brother Vincent was appointed Master of Studies and Brother Theodolus, steward at Notre Dame."

(Rev. E. Audran) "Nephew of Bishop de Hailandière. Pastor of St. Augustine's, Jeffersonville, Indiana. One of the early French missionaries who came to Indiana when it was but a wilderness. Was still a seminarian. He was stationed at Vincennes in 1841 and welcomed and entertained them in the absence of the Bishop." 1841.

See also: "Sorin's Chronicles, Chapter I."

"Bishop de la Hailandière was thoroughly in sympathy with Bishop Brute's educational ideas, and continues energetically to develop and perfect the system that had been inaugurated" -- Burns: "Principles, etc." 1912, p. 357.

See "Nashville, 1844" and "Drouelle C Visit, 1848, 1859."

"Brothers of St. Joseph" -- "The Brothers of St. Joseph, lately arrived from Europe, intend to open a school in Davies County, where the Novitiate of the institution will be kept. The Rev. E. Sorin is Superior" Catholic Almanac," Baltimore, 1842.

Statistics, 1842

 Churches..27                 Church Buildings..10            Stations..29 Clergy (in Ministry)..30     Clergy (otherwise employed)..4  Theol. Seminary..1 Ecclesiastical students..10  Females Academies..2            Free Schools..2 Colleges (young men)..1      Religious Associations..2 

Religious Communities: 

Sisters of Providence Sisters of Charity from St. Joseph Convent, Maryland Brothers of St. Joseph 

Catholic Population..25,000

-- Catholic Directory, p. 109, 1842

"Free Schools: Male Free School at Vincennes, in which the average number of pupils is 85, under the charge of two Brothers of St. Joseph" -- Ibid, 1843.

(Brother Francis to Sorin; Vincennes, Nov. 18, about 1843 Provincial Archives) ". . . .As for our school, we have not much to say only that the school room is not in a healthy place, that the boys are very bad, very many not knowing their prayers, and that those who know them say them very badly. Their parents are very careless too. Some of the scholars are sick, others are at work, and others run off from their parents. What is still worse we have very poor books. We have a dictionary fifty years old. I spoke to the Bishop, who said to give the note to (Rev.) Mr. Martin. I did so, but we have none yet" -.

(Vincennes; Brother Anselm to Sorin, July 9, 1843, Provincial) "Relative to my religious exercises I can say that I have always been faithful to them in the same way as I did when Brother Vincent was here. Only I have sometimes taken two or three minutes of my morning prayer to light the fire or to finish dressing myself or because I was surprised by the bell. . . I have never omitted an exercise except particular examen and that for punishing boys after school, and once spiritual reading, know not when it was.

"I have not room to tell you in what manner I spent my recreations but I will tell you at the retreat. Have the goodness in your next letter to tell me when I must give vacation and go to Notre Dame, and if I must go post or on horseback, for Mother Theodore told me that she would lend me her horse . . . the number of my boys is daily increasing. Four or five more have come recently, and instead of five seminarians I now have eight. Nobody helps me . . . I have six different kinds of tortoise and some insects which I will bring to South Bend if you judge proper. I am studying Natural History under (Rev.) Martin."

(Poverty of the diocese, 1843) The diocese had received large alms from the Societies of Paris and Tours established for the foreign missions, but three were entirely insufficient to meet all the demands. Churches had to be built and furnished in many places; a seminary was badly needed; the Brothers under Father Sorin also needed help, and some of the priests in the diocese could not support themselves, so destitute were the flocks they attended; all these were heavy droughts on the poor Bishop, and it

"Was a sore disappointment to him when his allowance was greatly reduced" Mother Theodore, p. 257, Sr. Theodosia, S.P.

"Male Free School at Vincennes, in which the number of pupils is 112, under the charge of two Brothers of St. Joseph" -- Catholic Almanac, 1844.

"Male Free School at Vincennes, conducted by a Brother of St. Joseph" -- Ibid, p.110. 1845

The same for 1846.

(Foundations outside of the Diocese: Sorin to Moreau; Provincial; 1844, July 2) "In my last letter of a week ago I spoke to you of the advantages . . . of foundations outside the diocese. I am a little annoyed thereat, but my opinion is that it will be done if possible."

(December 13, 1844) "I am troubled with a weakness of the lungs, which arises from my having to speak so much in teaching the scholars . . . I have 78 scholars, 18 Protestants. I get along pretty well so far . . . Mr. Martin is kind to me. I attend French Class every morning from 7:45 to 8:30 Mr. Martin teaches. He told me the Bishop would be very glad if you had a novitiate in Indianapolis. He also said the Bishop would assist you, but I suppose you know this already . . . I received a letter from Brother Anselm (Madison) and he says he began school the first of December. He has 36 scholars and complains of having no room except the school room.

"I go to confession every week to Mr. Martin.

"Mr. Shaw and Mr. Thomas are at Indianapolis trying to get Mr. Weinzophflen from prison . . . " Brother Mary Joseph to Sorin.

1845: 98 students, 8 Protestants. Under Brother Anselm General Archives, 70.3, 78.3;

1845 (March 3) Brother Mary Joseph, teacher.

"This school is badly provided for. We applied to the Bishop for the necessary things. He said he would settle it with (Rev.) Mr. Martin, but we have got nothing yet. Nor can we get boys to provide wood for the fire. We suffer great inconvenience for want of a watch . . . We are both unwell since we came here. We attribute it to the dampness of the school. (Second Brother was Brother Francis)."

1882: Brother Hilary, principal.

1847: Brother Francis de Sales, schoolmaster at Vincennes" Local Council, August, 27, 1847.

(Brother Mary Joseph to Sorin; April 24, 1847; Provincial) "The Bishop and all his house continue their kindness to me. The more I know him, the better I like him. I serve his Mass every morning. Thirty children attend school.

"I have a great desire to see all of you once more and of going to the Novitiate, which is the loveliest spot this side of the grave.

April 1st: "I will hold an examination next week, the clergy being so busy this week (Holy Week) that they could not attend.

June 28: "Though I do not know how I shall go home, I wish to walk, at least part of the way, if I be able. It would save a little expense, and be good for penance.

February 18, 1845: "There was a meeting in the school room about choosing this as the district school (Cathedral). They choose this and agreed to pay what the Bishop should charge them for the rent of the basement. I do not know how much it will come to, but Judge Moore, I believe, has paid Reverend Mr. Martin $10.00. I have 108 scholars, but a few of them have gone to work now. I have sometimes difficulties with the rowdies of Vincennes. They come among my schoolboys wanting to play with them, and they curse and swear, etc. I tell them I cannot allow them to play with my boys, and then they curse me" Bro. Mary Joseph.

(Bishop of Vincennes to Sorin) 1846: "We have at a distance of three miles from Vincennes, a settlement half French, half German, but all Catholic. This settlement is made up of a large number of Catholic families too far away from Vincennes to send their children to school at the Brothers. If you could send us a Brother to establish a school there, you would be rendering us a great service. It is not necessary that he be very learned as the school would be principally for beginners. However, classes will be taught in English.

"The Brother could walk to Mass on week-days as long as the pleasant weather lasts, and on Sundays he could come in a carriage with the families. One individual is already offering him board and room; all the others will do something for him. He will be obliged to teach little girls under 12 years of age as well as boys. In your own good judgment, will you see if this is possible.

"What urges me to make this request is the fact that these poor children, living too far away from Vincennes, can attend neither school nor catechism regularly, and as a consequence, are steeped in ignorance' John Stephen (Bazin), Bishop of Vincennes.

(Contract between Bishop Bazin and Sorin; April 10, 1848) (Provincial) Bishop approves that the Brothers of St. Joseph be sent two by two in each house to teach only boys; that they take the schools at their own expense when the pastors who asked for them have not fixed the Brothers' support, a sum sufficient, which ought to be $50.00; Bishop to recommend to his clergy to help to get vocations for the Brothers' Novitiate. General Archives .

(Orphanage) "Father Sorin's inability to accept the charge of the orphan boys of the diocese arose, in the first instance, from the loss his young Community sustained from the cholera, which ravaged the country for three successive seasons. After losing thirty subjects he wrote to Mother Theodore "since you began to pray for us death has ceased its awful work, if the disease has not been entirely arrested . . . There is no "one dangerously sick now except one Brother, whom I particularly recommend to your prayers" "Life of Mother Theodore", p. 411

(Brother Joseph to Sorin; February 9, 1850; Provincial) ". . . Since the Trappists came to this country, I had frequently the notion to join them . . . I am fully convinced that at Notre Dame du Lac I would never be able to do the good I wish to do. I made up my mind to go to the Trappists or to beg the Bishop to be employed for the support of the Orphan Asylum . . . The Bishop made some difficulty, and sent me to another director. He said I would be better to give myself up to the Orphan Asylum" Brother Joseph.

January 1, 1879: Brother Daniel.

(Orphanage; 1856) 'At the present moment he (Bishop de St. Palais) is having the little girls' orphan asylum repaired; that for boys will be ready in the month of September. His Lordship counts on giving us the charge of the latter also. I do not like to take the responsibility of bringing up boys. I fear we shall not succeed. It is a matter of great regret that Father Sorin cannot give Brothers for the work' --

Mother Theodore "Journals," etc., p. 296.

(Orphanage) "It is much to be regretted that Father Sorin cannot give Brothers for this work. There are at present 47 girls and 32 boys. We cannot refuse his Lordship, he has done so much good; but I fear very much that we are not fitted for the work; however, we will do our best' Mother Theodore to Bishop Bouvier. "Mother Theodore," p. 410.

(Manual Labor School; Highland, near Vincennes, 1857 on) "Another manual labor school is conducted by the Brothers of Holy Cross at Highland, near Vincennes" "Catholic Directory," 1857.

"Male Orphan Asylum is at Highland near Vincennes" "Catholic Directory," 1860.

"St. Francis Xavier's School, entrusted to our Brothers over 20 years ago, has been given to them again with the warm approbation of the new Bishop, Dr. Chatard. 100 boys attend it under the direction of Brother Daniel" Sorin, 1878.

"We learn from the Vincennes Times that the Cathedral parochial school recently opened under the care of Brother Daniel, is getting on well" Nov. 2, 1878, "Scholastic."

(Brother Felix to Granger, 1880) ". . . I have an increase in class since the holidays having now fifty boys. I like Vincennes better than any mission I was ever on, that is, I am much happier . . . I think it is ahead of what Springfield was and in some respects of Fort Wayne. There we had no kindling nor did the boys get any; here they do" Bro. Felix.

(Brother Hilary to Sorin; Sept. 14, 1883; Provincial) "Some people of the congregation have remarked that it would be injurious to Notre Dame to have its members teaching here with such poor accommodations as we have just now. I have been teaching for seventeen or eighteen years and have not seen anything to compare with Vincennes in regard to accommodations. The building in which we live and the ones "in which we teach are all very poor. The house is also occupied by another family and there is but one entrance for them and ourselves. There are many other inconveniences that I do not care to mention . . . The worst of it is that Father Peythieu thinks that the accommodations are good enough for us . . . Brother Fulgentius informed Father Peythieu that he had been only about two weeks at Notre Dame previous to his coming to Vincennes to teach. I suppose on that account the pastor did not consider him a competent teacher and one who deserved the same salary as the other Brothers."

1880: Cathedral Boy's Parochial Schools in charge of the Brothers of Holy Cross.

1885: Brothers of Holy Cross.

1842: Male free school at Vincennes, in which the average number of pupils is 40" Catholic Almanac, 1842.

1736: "Sierur de Vincennes, founder of the city of Vincennes, was burned by Chickawaws, 1736 -- Indiana Historical Almanac.

(Letter from Brother Francis de Sales to Sorin, Provincial Archives) "The class room in which I teach is little better than a cave. Some of the small children in it have already caught colds. About three fourths of them have no shoes nor money to buy them. And yet they have to spend six or sevenhours a day on cold, damp bricks. Most of my pupils are poorer than the beggars in France that go from door to door, Father Audran says. School is on for eight days now and they have not bought books nor paper. The Bishop expects the parents to furnish the wood and fuel but they haven't done it yet. Brother Mary Joseph last year had to take an axe and cart to get wood, for his pupils were shivering with cold.

"Through compassion the Bishop allowed us to draw on his woodpile. The children simply can't furnish wood. And it's not like at South Bend. Here one has to travel miles to find any for them and then it is of poor quality.

"Father Superior, I beg you to have an understanding with Msgr. about the heating of the school. If not, I can't continue the school. I complained to Father Audran, and the Bishop's nephew, but he could do nothing. 'He holds all in his own hands' said Father. 'Too much so indeed.' But both have been most kind and considerate to me. If not I should not have been able to get along at all.

"The new Bishop is expected from Mobile tomorrow (Bazin)" -- Act. 15.


"Vincennes, Foundations outside"
"Bezin Treaty"
"Bishop Hailandière to Sorin, # 17, 41, 71
"Hailandière to Moreau, # 57, 62, 85
"St. Peter's, 1842"

Brother Michael shall go to Vincennes -- Minor Chapter. Aug. 29, 1846.

"In my last letter of a week ago I spoke to you of the advantages of making, especially in the beginning and by principle, according to the first Bishop (of vincennes???), foundations outside of the Diocese. The Bishop will not consent thereto. I am a little annoyed at this attitude, but my advice is that it should be done if possible (Sorin Moreau, 1845)

(New York to Vincennes; 1841) "On the third day after their arrival having purchased their little provisions, the Brothers started for Vincennes, from which they were still 300 leagues distant. Msgr. Hailandière had instructed his agent in New York to hand them $300.00 for their traveling expenses. This was more than enough, for they were as economical as possible. In order to save money they preferred to take a slower and cheaper mode of travel, so that they did not reach their journey's end until 25 days after leaving New York" Sorin Chron.

1878: "St. Francis Xavier's School, entrusted to our Brothers over twenty years ago, has been given to them again with the warm approbation of the new Bishop, Msgr. Chartrad. 100 boys attend. Director, Brother Daniel" -- Father Granger's notes.

(En route to Vincennes, 1841) "Notwithstanding the anxiety of all to see Vincennes, the journey was in general agreeable; everything was new and interesting, especially from Albany to Buffalo, a distance of 150 leagues, which they made by canal and it took seven and one half days. But their journey was a specially pious one. Their religious exercises were carried out just as on the sea, including the Chapter. As to confession, it was once made at the foot of a fallen oak while the boat was preparing, or rather waiting, to pass a lock.

"From Miami, Ohio, they went on to Providence, where the steamer ended its trip (from Buffalo), and they had to hire two carriages for themselves and their baggage in order to reach the Miami canal, which was finished only that far. It was especially during this part of the journey, which lasted two days, that they occasion to remember the care that Heaven took of them. The roads were terrible and in these forests, whose century-old trees were sometimes thrown across the way, so that the drivers were often obliged to take a new path. Every turn of the wheel in these sloughs and ditches appeared as new evidence of our protection from on high, and called forth expressions of gratitude. Finally, Fort Wayne, the first Catholic station in the diocese of Vincennes, was reached . . . .

"This town of Fort Wayne had at that time a population of 15 or 18 hundred. Two days afterward they were at the residence of the Vicar General, the good and pious Mr. Aug. Martin, who received them with the amiability and cordiality of a genuine Frenchman, waiting on them at table with his own hands after he had himself done the cooking. For, he explained, he was too poor to pay a housekeeper, and for this reason he was content with the services of a little boy of 12. Not only did he afford them hospitality for two days, but the good missionary accompanied them as far as Lafayette (from Logansport) where he saw them safely embarked for their last station -- Vincennes.

"This final part of their journey took them another week. . . . They passed through Terre Haute, from which the Sisters of Providence are distant only 2 leagues, but they could not afford themselves the pleasure of visiting them. They were too anxious to see Vincennes.

"At length about sunrise on the second in October (the 10th of the month) there was a bright autumn sunrise. Msgr. de la Hailandière appeared to be well pleased at the arrival of the good Brothers, for whom he had asked so often during the last two years . . . It was a veritable feast day for all. They could hardly believe their eyes and convince themselves that they were at Vincennes" -- Sorin Chronicles.

(Father Martin was then pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church, Logansport, later became bishop (first) of Natchitoches, Louisiana.)

(1889) "A large brick schoolhouse stands near the Cathedral and is taught by the Brothers of Holy Cross" -- History of Knox County, p. 291 by Orlan F. Baker, 1886. The Goodspeed Publishing Co., Chicago.

(1878) Cathedral parochial school opened in 1878. Brother Daniel, principal.

(1712) "Father Marest, in a letter dated KasKaskia, Nov. 9, 1712, says, 'The French, having established a post on the Wabash, demanded a missionary, and Father Mermet was sent to them" -- History of Knox Co. p. 288, O.F. Baker.

"He (Rev. M. Flaget, later Bishop of Bardstown) found the Congregation in a worse fix than the church. Out of nearly 700, but 12 could be induced to attend to spiritual duties. The inhabitants of Vincennes had lived so long among the Indians with whom many had intermarried, that they had contracted many of their savage habits"-- History of Knox Co. p.236.

(1839-41) "For two years the Brothers of St. Joseph has been expected at Vincennes, but during that time it had been impossible for Father Moreau, their Superior General, to comply with the urgent requests of Msgr. de la Hailandière. At last, on August 5, 1841, the Feast of Our Lady of the Snows, the first colony took its departure, after a most touching and impressive ceremony. The novelty of the event had attracted numerous friends and patrons of Ste. Croix. On this occasion Father Moreau seemed to surpass himself, and he communicated to his entire audience his own emotions" -- Sorin Chronicles. p.1

(Vincennes Diocese, Foundations outside) ". . . the Bishop regards with ill ease the idea of our drawing away from his administration and jurisdiction" Sorin: General Archives. (See also: "Brothers, Founding in the United States)

(Dependence on the Bishop of Vincennes) See under "Moreau" and "Bishop Hailandière."

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›