Childhood of Edward Sorin; his early studies; his ordination and reception into Holy Cross; his interest in the Indiana missions; his departure from Le Mans with six Brothers; landing in America; the journey to Vincennes.
In the province of Mayenne, at the little village of La Roche in the commune of Ahuillé, there lived a gentleman farmer, Julian Sorin de la Gaulterie and his wife, Marie Anne Louise Gresland de la Margalerie. Edward Frederick Sorin was the seventh of their nine children. He was born on the 6th of February, 1814. During the days of the French Revolution, the Sorin family had somehow escaped the severe penalties imposed on so many Catholics. Though the father and mother of these nine children had maintained the spirit of the Church, they had lost little of their material goods.
This escape was in no way due to religious laxity on the part of the Sorins. On the contrary, their home, during that trying time, had often been the refuge of the persecuted clergy. We know the names of two priests, Abbé Buhigné and the Abbé Goussay, who, for long periods, found shelter in the Sorin household and there administered to the Catholics of the neighborhood. Other priests were taken in overnight while peasants attached to La Roche watched lest the enemy approach. Fortunately, La Roche was never suspected as a hide-out.
As he grew up, young Edward Sorin gave every evidence that he would not be unmindful of the great Catholic tradition that characterized his family. When five years old, he was entrusted to the care of Monsieur Bouvet who conducted a small school for the more prominent families of the region. Even as a child, he had a quick, bright intelligence. His character was frank and gay. He was polite and dignified. His teacher and fellow students recognized him as an outstanding pupil.
At twelve, Sorin began to study Latin. The knowledge of that classical tongue enabled the young student to grasp more richly the liturgy of the Church. In a Catholic community, where children go often to Mass, to Vespers and Benediction, it is the most natural thing that they should imitate the priest at the altar. And where, among several children, there is one who is outstanding for his energy and initiative, he generally assumes first place in this sacred pantomime. So it was that young Sorin contrived some childlike vestments, made for himself an altar, and went through the motions that edified and entertained his youthful congregation. There are some who would take all this as sure indication of the future priesthood of the boy, but of course, the vocation to the priesthood is not so easily determined. There was in the character of the young Sorin a natural spunkiness that made him the leader in play as well as in study. This quality was no doubt blended with imperfections. In the light of subsequent events, there were many who called him headstrong and stubborn. Those who admired him and followed him, thought him courageous and fearless. Surely there was nothing inconstant or timid about him. Once when one of his teachers punished him, Sorin was so obsessed with what he thought was the injustice of the punishment that he refused to continue under the direction of such a master. His parents were obliged to turn him over to the parish priest for his future studies. Such a concession merely confirmed Sorin in his persuasion that he was the natural leader of his playmates. And there seems to be some justice in this judgment. In later years, one of the five students who attended the curés school in Sorin's time, said: "Of the five of us, Edward Sorin was always first. And he knew how to profit by it to boss the others. He was born for that." After two or three years spent in this little school, Edward expressed the desire to continue his studies in Laval, at the college conducted by the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He was there but one year. By this time he had made up his mind to become a priest. His mother and father were delighted. They placed him in the Little Seminary at Precigné. There he remained until he had finished his humanities. Thence he went to the Major Seminary in Le Mans.
During the year 1836 there came to the Seminary in Le Mans, a figure who was to have a profound influence on the life of Edward Sorin. Simon Bruté, the first Bishop of Vincennes, from the old Northwest Territory of the United States, came, as was the custom of missionary bishops, to talk to the seminarians of Le Mans, to tell them of his labors, and to plead for vocations to carry on the great work of bringing the gospel to both the Indians and the whites of his diocese. The simple, apostolic zeal of the bishop stirred the heart of Sorin. Although the young seminarian was not to be ordained for two years, the seed planted by Bishop Bruté in his zealous heart was to bring forth a fruit greater than the Ordinary of Vincennes could have suspected.
Edward Sorin was ordained priest on May 27, 1838. The Bishop of Le Mans sent him as a curate to the little town of Parcé. There seemed so little for him to do at Parcé that gradually Father Sorin longed for a more expansive field in which to labor. His boundless energy and indefatigable zeal demanded something greater upon which he might try his mettle. Surely, in those days, he must have thought often of Bishop Bruté and the American missions. Perhaps some doubt of his ability to stand the rigours of such an undertaking may have assailed him. In any event, he made up his mind to get away from simple parish life, and offer himself to something more vigorous.
There was in Le Mans an organization that offered him just such an opportunity. While he was a student in the Seminary at Le Mans, he had become acquainted with the Abbé Moreau. This former professor in the Seminary had banded together a certain number of zealous priests whose particular duty it was to aid the pastors of very poor parishes. France, after the Revolution, had innumerable little country parishes where for lack of priests, and particularly, the lack of well educated priests, people had lost their faith and their interest in Catholicism. Father Moreau and his little group had already made themselves the talk of the region by the brilliant success that accompanied the missions and retreats preached to these poor and neglected villages.
It was to Basil Moreau and his Auxiliary Priests that Father Sorin turned in 1839, after fifteen months spent in the ministry at Parcé. Father Moreau recognized in the young priest a strong and willing character. Between the two men there sprang up a friendship that was deep and admirable. The Abbé Moreau was destined to become the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the religious community which began and maintains the University of Notre Dame.
Like many another religious body of men, the Congregation of Holy Cross owes its origin, indirectly, to the French Revolution. Hatred for the monarchy brought odium on the Church. In 1790, the attack centered on the clergy. Priests and bishops were dispersed, imprisoned or killed. Convents, churches and monasteries were confiscated and defiled. The ashes of the saints and holy relics were scattered to the winds. But most of all, the spirit of religion was torn from the hearts of the people, and children no longer heard the word of God nor received the sacraments. For over a decade the spirit of godlessness masqueraded under the names of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Even with the coming of Bonaparte, the Church did not regain her former liberties. Napoleon made a great pretense of restoring the Church to a place of dignity, but in reality, he strove by every device to keep the Church subject to himself.
Out of all this confusion, there came many pious souls who were horrified at the destruction wrought upon their country. As a consequence, these men and women, fired by the desire to rehabilitate the French nation, began the work of spiritual reconstruction. As they attracted thousands of others to their labors, there arose in France a large number of religious orders, men and women, all of them aflame with enthusiasm for the rebuilding of sanctity and learning. The work was not easy. Ten years of persecution had cleansed the clergy, had taught them many lessons of humility and patience. But there still remained many of the old prejudices. Opposition was to be found everywhere. And if the work was to be accomplished, men of tact as well as of courage would be required.
The Congregation of Holy Cross was one of the numerous religious communities that arose when the fires of persecution began to die down. We have already mentioned that the Abbé Moreau, desirous of bringing salvation to poor and outlying districts, had gathered around him numerous priests of the diocese of Le Mans. As yet, in 1840, no definite plans of organization had been formulated. These priests recognized a work to be done. They were in agreement that sacrifice and hardship must be faced. But as an organization they were still in a malleable stage. Who should direct the work? Who should be the superior? What rule of life should be followed? These things were to be determined shortly.
Besides being the guiding spirit of these Auxiliary Priests, Father Moreau had another group of men working under him. They were the Brothers of St. Joseph. About twenty years previous to 1840, the pious Father Jacques Dujarié had founded a group of teaching Brothers under the patronage of St. Joseph. It was their purpose to open schools in country places where they might instruct the young in Catholic doctrine. As time went on, Father Dujarié, weakened by his arduous tasks, was obliged to give up the direction of these Brothers. with the consent of the Bishop of Le Mans, the Abbé Moreau assumed control of the Brothers of St. Joseph.
In 1835, he had been appointed Superior of the Auxiliary Priests. The priests, likewise, wished to band themselves together in a more stable and regular union. So they took the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. This first pledge took place on August 15th, 1840. Father Moreau, on that morning, pronounced his vows before Bishop Bouvier of Le Mans. That night Father Sorin and another priest, Father Chappé, took their vows, and promised to live in obedience to Father Moreau who was constituted their superior.
Father Sorin was 26 years old. Already he had been formed to the priestly life. His superiors in the seminary and his bishop were satisfied with the zeal and decency of his ministry. But, as is the custom in religious communities, each new subject must pass through the training of the novitiate, in which the spirit of humility and obedience is more thoroughly tested. Immediately after his profession, Father Sorin became a novice. This period, in his case, lasted but nine months. He passed his time in prayer. He learned the rules of the new community, formed himself to its spirit, and performed the menial tasks of sweeping and dusting the chapter room and the corridors of the Novitiate. He then taught Latin and Greek and preached missions in the surrounding towns.
In the early summer of 1839, Bishop Bruté, through his vicar general, Celestine de la Hailandière had appealed to Father Moreau to send him priests and brothers for the missions in Indiana. The emigration from the eastern seaboard to the Northwest territory had increased the population of this region greatly. It was apparent that the many Catholics moving into this section would have no priests to minister to them, no Catholic teachers for their children. Father de la Hailandière made his appeal in person. Father Sorin, who was already at Le Mans with Father Moreau, remembered the good Bishop of Vincennes. Once again he felt a strong attraction for Bishop Bruté's work. But Father Sorin was destined never to see Bishop Bruté again. The Bishop died June 26, 1839. Father de la Hailandière was in France at the time, and as he learned then that he was to be the successor of Bishop Bruté, he was consecrated in France on August 18th. A week later he was in Le Mans, discussing with Father Moreau the projected expedition of Brothers and priests to America.
The new Bishop set before Father Moreau his ideas on the subject. Above all, it was necessary to have teaching brothers. The Catholic children were obliged to attend "Protestant" schools if they were to acquire even the rudiments of an education. The situation was bad for their faith. The missionary priests, few and overworked as they were, could not give their attention to the children. They had no time to conduct schools. They were in the saddle all day, moving from one missionary station to another, exhausted from their labors. Moreover, experience had shown that there was no one in the entire diocese that cared to undertake this very necessary work. The teachers must come from France. Father Moreau was asked if he could promise three or four Brothers of St. Joseph and a priest to direct the Brothers. Father Moreau was disturbed because of the language. He had no one, he said, who could speak English. The Bishop answered: "Let not that detain you. I have two young men anxious to enter some religious institute. English is their native tongue. If you will only send the Brothers, these young men will teach them English and in three or four months they will he able to make themselves understood. Moreover," he added, "the very presence of these Brothers will inspire many others with the desire for the religious life. You will discover many vocations for your new congregation."
Still, Father Moreau hesitated. It was with difficulty that he brought the word "money" to his lips for he was so young and fresh in his apostolic vocation. In some vague sort of way, Father Moreau was given to understand that the Bishop would defray the expenses of the voyage and the foundation. Perhaps the Bishop in his anxiety to secure the Brothers had unwittingly given this impression. How soon, he asked impatiently, could he expect the Brothers? Father Moreau answered: within a year.
But when a year had passed, new difficulties faced Father Moreau. He had no money to advance the Brothers for the long journey to America. He was obliged to write to Vincennes saying that unless the Bishop could forward 1,500 francs, it would be impossible to send the Brothers at that time. The Bishop, full of surprise and consternation, replied that he understood that Moreau was to found the mission and take care of the expenses of the journey. In his letter, Monseigneur de la Hailandière spoke of his limited resources and how, even with the assistance of the Propagation of the Faith, he and his priests were obliged to exercise the utmost economy. He was able to offer a house for the Brothers, and a farm whereon they might earn a living until they had learned English.
Before this reply had reached Father Moreau, the Founder of Holy Cross, foresaw that he would be unable to send the missionary band until 1841. He wrote in this vein to Bishop de la Hailandière. The Bishop became alarmed. He was inclined to think that Father Moreau wished to withdraw from the agreement altogether. He could not hide his vexation. He wrote: I took you at your word. I have already prepared a place for the Brothers; I have even built a school. I have announced to the faithful that the Brothers were coming this year. Please do not delay.
Father Moreau hastened to assure him that he had every intention of sending the Brothers and a priest at the first opportunity. The Bishop then apologized for the indignant expressions in his recent letter. And he made a new proposition. He had arranged, he wrote, to locate the Brothers about thirty miles from Vincennes, about seven miles from a little town where there was a church and a priest. True, they would he in the country, but on the main highway. But the country was mostly Catholic, and the Community could expect a goodly number of vocations. The diocese owned 160 acres there which had been given for a school. The ground, if cultivated, could furnish the Brothers with all the food they needed. Moreover, at Vincennes proper there was a school already awaiting them. His letter stated that, although he could not offer cash, he was willing and anxious to donate fertile land which would give the Community a greater wealth than was promised to most missionaries.
Father Moreau answered that he was preparing the missionary band for sailing in the summer of 1841. The Bishop could expect them at that time. In his correspondence, the Bishop had insinuated something that should have caused, and probably did cause Moreau some concern. It was this: whoever shall pay for the expedition will thereby become the master and director of the new foundation. If Father Moreau assumed the financial obligations necessary to found Holy Cross in the new world, then the foundation should be under the direction of Father Moreau. But if the Bishop of Vincennes had to pay, then it was his understanding that this new community should cease to be under the control of the Mother House at Le Mans. Indeed the Bishop went so far as to say that he wished to form in Indiana a Mother House after the model at Le Mans. Father Moreau, for the present at least, preferred not to argue the matter. In fact, since he himself was to defray the expense of the ocean voyage, he considered himself justly enough as the Founder of the Mission. The Bishop, however, was planning to make the new community independent of the Mother House in France, an idea that he defended once the first colony had arrived.
In the early summer of 1841, it was decided that six Brothers should sail in the fall. And Father Sorin was the priest chosen to act as their superior and director. The young priest received his appointment with gratitude and enthusiasm. At last, he thought, here is a work to which I can give my whole heart!
Father Moreau's admiration for Sorin was deep. During their brief association the founder of Holy Cross had come to appreciate the religious fervor and talents of the young priest, his unbounded energy, and his capacity to attract souls. He shared his longings for the missions, but as head of the new organization, it was impossible for him to go far afield. He could only ask others to go. The choice of Sorin cost Father Moreau a great deal. A few months after the departure he was to write: "More than ever, I feel the loss I have suffered in giving you to America. It is a sacrifice which cost me tears during several days." Three years later, he was to say: "It seems to me that of all the members of our family of Holy Cross, you are the one for whom I have the most esteem, to whom I have given the utmost confidence and the most affection, and I will suffer until my death by this separation."
For his part, Sorin, although he suffered something at the thought of leaving friends and home, was filled with an ardent impetuosity to be off and doing. When he was certain that he was to head the new expedition, he wrote to the Bishop of Vincennes:
Never has Divine Providence seemed sweeter, more merciful, more kind! Never have I blessed it with a heart more touched by its goodness. Never have I been more happy, since I ant assured that It has finally fixed upon me its attention in order to give to your Grace one more priest to work in your immense diocese for the glory of God and the salvation of souls!
I only wish, Monseigneur, that I had heen able to inform you sooner of my great joy, and to spare you the painful uncertainty of the past year concerning our coming. But I had to wait until heaven had manifested its will. For me, there is no longer any doubt. It seems to me that our Good Master leads me to you by His hand, and that it is that fills me with an indescribable joy.
I will say nothing concerning the Brothers chosen for you. Our dear and worthy superior has chosen them in such a way as to make your heart glad after such long waiting. I only hope that you will be equally satisfied with the poor priest who is to accompany them. He is deprived of all personal merits and as you may perhaps expect, without talent or solid virtues; in a word, without any recommendation except his good will.
However, I like to think that the great desire which the good God gives me, the desire of being useful to you and of devoting myself without reserve to promoting as much as I can your plans, and of satisfying you in every way, a desire which is daily increasing, will repay you in part for what I lack in other ways. After all, I do not pity myself for being so poor. For me it is rather another reason for abandoning myself entirely to God.
And if some good is done by our ministry, as I hope from the bounty of the Divine Master, it will be for yourself, Monseigneur, a new occasion to recognize the finger of God.
Many Brothers of St. Joseph offered themselves for the new undertaking. Father Moreau chose six: of them: three for the work of teaching, Brothers Vincent, Anselm, and Gatian; and three others for manual work, Brothers Joachim, Francis Xavier, and Lawrence.
Brother Vincent was the oldest of this group. He was born in 1797 at Courbeville in the Mayenne, the son of a weaver.  When be was twenty-four years old, he became one of the first to join Father Dujarié in forming the Brothers of St. Joseph. Under most discouraging circumstances, he proved the solidity of his vocation. He had taught in the primary schools for many years in the Mayenne without neglecting the art of weaving learned from his father. This man, both as a teacher and as a weaver, would be of vast help to Father Sorin. Brother Vincent's great experience with the hardships of life would temper somewhat Father Sorin's lusty enthusiasm. So steadfast and yet so humble was Brother Vincent in all his undertakings that he was for all his brethren a mighty bulwark against discouragement. In fact, when it came time to say goodbye to France, Sorin's father, dismayed and heartbroken at the departure of his son for the rugged and uncertain mission of Indiana, begged Brother Vincent to watch over him. Sorin's father need not have worried. For many decades to come, Brother Vincent fulfilled that charge.
Brother Joachim was born Guillaume André in 1808 at Evron. Although his parents were farmers, he himself had been a tailor before entering the Novitiate. His services on the new mission would be valuable. Let Brother Vincent weave the cloth; Brother Joachim would make the clothes.
Then, there was a carpenter. He was Brother Francis Xavier, born René Patois, at Clermon, in 1820. He had entered the community in October, 1839.
Brother Lawrence was the farmer. Jean Ménage was his name in the world. His forbears, like himself, were farmers. He entered the community only fourteen months before leaving for Indiana. Fortunately, he was young, -- only twenty-five. He was to discover by painful experience that the farms of Indiana needed an entirely different hand than that which sowed the grain on the fields of La Sarthe.
Of the Brothers destined for the life of teaching, we have already mentioned Brother Vincent. The other two were mere boys. Brother Anselm was fifteen, and Brother Gatian only fourteen. They were still in the Novitiate when they offered themselves for the American mission.
Brother Anselm, Pierre Caillot in the world, was born in 1826 at Gennes near Chateau-Gontier, Mayenne. He entered the Novitiate in August, 1839. He had a simple faith, devotion to duty, and a quick mind. His youth was really no obstacle, for the Bishop had impressed Father Moreau with the necessity of sending young men -- they learned the language more rapidly.
For the same reason, Father Moreau elected Brother Gatian, Urbain Monssimier. He was born in 1827 at Chemeray-le-roi, the son of farmers. At the age of eleven, he had already decided to become a Brother. He was a stickler for rules, prompt and studious. He was deemed a good choice for the missions.
As yet, the money to pay for their passage was not forthcoming. According to Father Sorin's Chronicle,  a pious woman of Le Mans finally solved the difficulties by suggesting a lottery on a gold chain. It was a great success. Who could have foreseen that it would bring in 1500 francs? Other contributions produced as much again. Boxes and bags were packed with linen, vestments, religious articles -- everything in fact which might be useful in Indiana.
At last they were ready. It was the fifth of August, 1841. The entire community, friends and relatives of the new missionaries, gathered for the last time in the chapel of Holy Cross. It was an occasion that brought forth the most tender and encouraging words from the eloquent Founder. When he had finished, Father Sorin and the Brothers approached the altar and kissed the feet of Father Moreau. He gave them one final blessing. Then, after a few words of goodbye to the community members and their friends, they climbed into the waiting diligence, and drove off to Alençon. With them went two of the priests, and a layman whose presence was an augury of precious God-speed.
The layman was M. Léon Dupont, known throughout France for his sanctity and charity. He was popularly known as the "holy man of Tours." He drove with the missionaries all the way to the point of embarkation, Le Havre. And fortunate it was that he was with them. For when they arrived at Le Havre, it was discovered that their passports were not in order. The officials ordered the missionaries back to Le Mans until the irregularities were corrected. But here the great influence of M. Dupont came to their aid. Through his persuasion, the holy man of Tours managed to settle the difficulties, and the company was able to board ship.
The boat was the Iowa, an American ship. Father Moreau had given Father Sorin 3000 francs. Half of this sum was to pay for the passage on the boat, the remainder to finance the trip from New York to Vincennes. Imagine, then, Father Sorin's consternation when he learned from the ticket agent at Le Havre that he had reserved places for them at 500 francs per person!
"Mon Dieu!" exclaimed the priest. "We can't afford that. All I have for the entire journey to the wilds of Indiana is 3000 francs! And now you want me to pay 3500 francs for the boat trip alone! Impossible!"
The agent threw his hands in the air. He sputtered that the baggage of the missionaries had already been placed in the cabins, demanded why something was not said about this before, and asked what Father Sorin expected him to do!
Such expostulation is always a sign that things can be arranged. And after much arguing and consultation with Captain Pell, the baggage was moved down into the steerage where a hastily partitioned space, twenty by ten feet, was reserved for 1500 francs. Of their accommodations, Father Seem wrote:
Imagine a large hall below deck sixty feet long by thirty feet wide, lighted only at one end by a trap door five feet square. In this space, there were over fifty persons, all varieties, scattered pell-mell. without any distinction, sometimes quarreling, sometimes exuberantly merry. . . . Fortunately, with the help of some planks, we made a separate compartment and are able to keep it locked. Now all we have to put up with is the continual tumult of this strange assemblage.
The Iowa weighed anchor the mid-afternoon of August 8th. The crossing of the channel was exceedingly rough, and they were all sick, except Brother Vincent. His turn came later. When they reached the ocean, they began to feel better. Captain Pell was gracious enough, after a few days, to offer them a cabin, in which Father Sorin was able to say mass eleven times during the crossing.
It is interesting to note that this little company began at once to exercise its missionary function. There were, aboard the ship, a number of German Protestants, and a company of French comedians from Paris. The poverty, humility, and piety of Sorin's band won the admiration of all. One of the events that Father Sorin would often recall during his lifetime was the fact that he baptized a little Protestant girl, two years of age, who was dying. A couple of days after this baptism, the child died, and Father Sorin, at the behest of the captain, officiated at the services as the child was lowered into the blue Atlantic. Also, on two occasions, he held an informal public discussion on matters of faith. One wonders who derived more profit, the German Protestants or the French comedians.
The missionaries so conducted themselves among the passengers in the steerage that, on the last day of the voyage, Captain Pell said to Father Sorin: "Let me offer you today my commendation. You have edified me among these poor people. I had thought that this place was not becoming to your character. Now I realize that you did well to stay here. You were right!"
The Iowa sailed into New York harbor the late afternoon of September the 13th, thirty-nine days after leaving Le Havre. It was too late to unload, so the debarkation was put off until the morrow. However, Father Sorin and a few others were permitted to go ashore that night.
One of his first gestures on this soil so longed for, was to prostrate himself and to kiss it as a sign of adoption, and, at the same time, in gratitude to, God for the boon of this happy voyage. The arrival of our new missionaries could not have occurred more propitiously. It was the eve of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Thus, Father Sorin could celebrate his first Mass in America on that very feast. This happy coincidence produced a vivid impression upon the heart of the young religious of Holy Cross who had put all his confidence in the power of the Cross, and who desired to suffer something for the love of Jesus Christ.
Father Sorin and his little band met a good friend who was able to facilitate their journey to Vincennes. This person was Samuel Byerley, who was to play an important part in the early foundation of Notre Dame. Samuel Byerley's father was a partner of the famous Josiah Wedgewood, the inventor of the well-known Wedgewood chinaware. The son, Samuel, orphaned at thirteen years of age, was forced to educate himself. A born wanderer, he traveled throughout Europe, picked up a knowledge of French, Spanish, German and Italian, and instructed himself in Latin and Greek. Together with his wife, he came to America in 1832. His vast experience won for him a place in the great shipping and mercantile company of Howland and Aspinwall, and he became very wealthy.
Bishop de la Hailandière, a friend of Mr. Byerley, had requested him to meet Father Sorin. This he did, and more. He took Father Sorin and the Brothers into his home, and for three days entertained them with exquisite kindness. Mr. Byerley had become a Catholic only a week before Father Sorin's arrival. He welcomed this opportunity to prove his reverence for the clergy of his newly adopted religion. Mr. Byerley brought the little band to the Bishop of New York, Bishop John Dubois, with whom they spent the entire day.
Mr. Byerley's generosity is thus indicated by Father Sorin's words:
As he is overburdened with the work of his own business, he got up at three o'clock in the morning to take care of his own correspondence, and thus be able to devote the rest of the day to us. He completed our provisions, and bought us a little bell, a small clock, and several other necessary things. Finally, that evening at five o'clock, Thursday, September 16th, he came himself to pay out fares on the steamboat, to take care of our baggage which he had covered with heavy wrapping paper at his own expense, refusing everything except a remembrance before God,
They steamed up the Hudson River, thence to Buffalo via the old Erie Canal. It took the horse-drawn barges seven and a half days to reach Buffalo. But before reaching that destination, Father Sorin, accompanied by Brother Vincent, made a detour to see Niagara Falls, rejoining the others in Buffalo, where Father Pax, the pastor of a German parish, received them.
On Lake Erie, they took a steamboat to Toledo. The passage was rougher than anything they had experienced on the Atlantic. Because of the intensity of the storms, the vessel was forced twice to seek land. Three days later they were in Toledo. They were overjoyed to set foot on land, but unfortunately, their most serious troubles were just beginning.
How would one go from Toledo to Vincennes? In various forms of broken English, Father Sorin asked this question of any who seemed likely to know. Where was this canal that led to the southern part of Indiana? It was not yet completed, he was told. Finally, they found a boat that would take them as far as Miami, thence to Napoleon. Ah, Napoleon! There, certainly, they would find some one who spoke their tongue! They were disappointed. There was not a Frenchman there.
They learned, however, that from Napoleon they might proceed in one of two ways: they might cut across the forest in some sort of conveyance; or they could pack their belongings in canoes, and paddle the narrow streams toward their destination. How much would it cost by canoe? Ten dollars. They had just about resolved on the canoe trip, when the owner suddenly decided to raise the price. Father Sorin objected to this form of robbery, and it was just as well, for he discovered later that a short distance beyond Napoleon, the river-beds were dry.
Then they shopped about for some mode of land conveyance. For thirty dollars they hired two carts, each drawn by a pair of horses. The owner placed his sons in charge of the cavalcade, and, in company with three other Americans, they set off. After two miles, the road ceased to be worthy of the name. Due to heavy rains, it was gutted with mud holes. Great trees had been blown down across their path. It was necessary to ford numerous streams, and as the horses jolted and tossed the carts, soaking both travelers and baggage, there was many an anxious moment. The missionaries could not swim.
Furthermore the two drivers tried to rob them on the way, and the three lusty Americans, brandishing revolvers, showed themselves not a little unsympathetic. This stage of the journey, lasting fourteen hours, brought them but thirty miles. As the road improved they knew they were approaching the small town of Defiance and to some sort of frontier protection. Then they took heart and in the clear bright moonlight "they sang all the hymns to the Blessed Virgin they knew." The missionaries were glad to say goodbye to their fellow travellers, eat some dry bread, and tumble exhausted into their blankets for a night's sleep.
In the morning, they found a way to travel by water to Fort Wayne. Two days later, they were at Logansport. There they were welcomed by the Vicar General, Father Augustus Martin,  who, after he had refreshed them with food and sleep, accompanied the missionaries as far as Lafayette. A week later, by easy stages, they came to Vincennes. The journey from New York had taken twenty-four days; from Le Havre, nine weeks. It was a Sunday morning, the tenth of October, 1841, when Father Sorin and his six Brothers, after tramping through the sand for three hours, beheld the Cathedral tower. They were all fasting. At ten o'clock, Bishop de la Hailandière, who had welcomed them cordially but briefly, celebrated Mass. Father Sorin said his Mass in the chapel, and the Brothers received Communion. Only thereafter did they break their fast, the Bishop inviting them all to his table. They ate in subdued happiness, now and then gesticulating with the Bishop's silverware, retelling the incidents of their voyage.
When they had finished the repast, the Bishop looked from one to the other, nodded his signal that they should rise, fiddled a bit with his purple skull-cap, and said grace. He turned to Father Sorin, and in a low voice said: "Will you come with me!"
Father Sorin followed the Bishop to his room.
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