Father Sorin, ca. 1890
Along with the whole university community, the minims of St. Edward's
Hall celebrated Father Sorin's feastday every year -- October 13th, St.
Edward's Day. Generally Father Sorin attended these celebrations; more
on this day than on any other the students expressed their affection
for him, and he responded with evidence of his great love for them.
But he did not have the strength to attend in 1893; a group of students
and faculty came to visit him, and he went with them to the balcony of
his room to hear the band play for him.
Two weeks later he did not have enough strength left to get out of
bed. The minims begged to visit him, but instead they had to go to the
chapel and pray; they never saw him alive again. Father John W.
Cavanaugh did see him on his deathbed, and gives this account:
Father Sorin died on the 31st of October, 1893. On November 11th the
Notre Dame Scholastic published a memorial
issue containing an account of the reaction of the Notre Dame
community and of other Catholics in the United States and abroad, a
report on his funeral, the text of the
moving funeral sermon delivered
by Archbishop Elder of Cincinnati, and a sketch
of his life.
I remember seeing Father Sorin die. I was then Associate Editor of the
Ave Maria and was passing from the seminary to Father Hudson's rooms
for my regular dole of daily work when a novice nun, naturally somewhat
flustered, crossed my path as I neared the Presbytery and told me with
agitation that the Superior General was very close to the end. I went
directly to the room where the venerable man lay dying -- his own
bedroom attached to his suite on the first floor of the Presbytery,
which has since been used by the Provincials. Father Sorin was
breathing heavily, his cheeks glowing in a swollen way with each
recurring breath. There was little change in his aspect except that his
eyes moved furtively about the room up and down and towards the side
almost constantly. At the same time, I noticed that very frequently,
even in his unconscious condition, his gaze rested for a moment on the
pretty little statue of the Blessed Virgin which had been set upon a
small table at the foot of his bed. Those in the room were the
Venerable Mother Ascension, who had been such a true friend and helper
to Father Sorin, Brother Columba, his faithful nurse during the months
and years even of his illness, a little novice who was there to be
useful in whatever way she could and Father Zahm who held Father Sorin
literally in his arms as he breathed his last.*