It was in the fall of 1875 while the old church was being razed and the new one being constructed, that the Scholastic noted the removal of the remains of Fathers Deseille, Petit, Cointet, and Mr. William Phelan. Mr. Phelan, it will be remembered, was one of the earliest benefactors of the institution, and the stepfather of Rev. Neal Gillespie who had died shortly after the decease of Father Lemonnier. Today, these bodies lie beneath the foundations of the present church at Notre Dame.
In the basement chapel of Sacred Heart Church lie the remains of America's greatest Catholic philosopher of the nineteenth century, Orestes Brownson.
Sacred Heart Church, the campus chapel, had undergone no serious renovation since its completion in 1888. The lighting system was antiquated, Gregori's frescoes had become clouded, and there were cracks in the walls. Mr. Wilfred E. Anthony, a New York architect, was asked to draw up plans for a renovation of the church. Father Lawrence Broughal was the University advisor on this occasion. The restoration was completed in 1931 and was highly satisfactory to everyone. In the church tower was placed a new automatic clock. The chimes were synchronized in such a fashion that the quarter hour would be indicated by a stroke of the bells. At stated intervals, a few bars of some Catholic hymn would be heard on the chimes. A few minutes after ten each night "Taps" would be sounded in the tower.
Sacred Heart Church, which has been a center of worship at Notre Dame for more than 120 years, has received what Rector Father Daniel Jenky called "a great honor (for) the building and the faith community." from Pope John Paul II.
The Vatican has named Sacred Heart a minor basilica, a distinction which recognizes historically important churches and significant centers of worship and devotion.
The distinction is "a papal recognition that Sacred Heart is a church with an international reputation: it is a center for prayer, pilgrimage and devotion and a place where the liturgy is done with amplified richness," Jenky said.