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Online Exhibits > Father Edward Sorin and the Founding of Notre Dame


Father Edward Sorin's Death in 1893

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:

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.*

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.


Notre Dame Scholastic Articles, November 11, 1893:

"With the Saints" - a poem by Eliza Allen Starr

Report of Sorin's Death

Report of Sorin's Funeral

Sorin's Funeral Sermon

A Brief Sketch of Sorin's Life

Some of the people who attended Sorin's Funeral

Resolutions of the Faculty in Memory of the Very Rev. Father General Sorin