University of Notre Dame.

Silver jubilee of the University of Notre Dame, June 23rd, 1869 .. online

. (page 1 of 15)
Online LibraryUniversity of Notre DameSilver jubilee of the University of Notre Dame, June 23rd, 1869 .. → online text (page 1 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Very Rov. E.Sorin.S.S.C

fbuaf/ff of. \o/re Ddine f 'nivfwity,

;I/H/ -y/f/M'/'/'w Gtflfnxl (J/' t/ie Co/iyn'yit/io/t o/' /futi/



nuwsira 0f mm

JUNE 23rd, 1869.

" Genns lmmortle manet, mnltosqae per annog

Stat I'ortuna domus et avi numerantur avorum. 1 '




87 Washington Street.

Entered according- to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.



This Work

Compiled as a Memorial of their College Days,

and a Happy Presage of Days to Come,

Is Respectfully Dedicated,


Their Devoted Friend,

J. A. LYONS, A. M.,

June zjd,



On a cold November evening in the year of grace,
1842, a young priest stood near the old log house on the
banks of the little lake called St. Mary's, and viewed
for the first time the principal field of his future labors.
The frozen lake, the prairie beyond it, the small portion
of cleared ground were all covered with snow; the
branches of the trees drooped under the weight of the
snow ; the evergreens, even the rail-fences, and the
stumps that thickly studded the ten acre lot, were ren-
dered fairy like with snow ; snow, cold, pure, beautify-
ing snow lay thick and heavy all around, and as the
rays of the setting sun, struggling through the winter
clouds, cast their magic light over the wide expanse of
snqw-covered land, the young priest consecrated it anew
to the Virgin Mother of God, to whom, in his great love
for her, all his undertakings, great or small, were always
lovingly submitted.

The young priest was Father Sorin ; the place, Xotre


Dame du Lac ; two names that will always be associated,
ever linked together in the memory of old student* and
old friends, and will go down together in the religious
and educational annals of our country.

But though in the following pages Father Sorin's name
must frequently be mentioned, it is by no means our
intention to give even a sketch of his life.

Father Sorin still lives, thank God, and long may he
live ! his deeds already accomplished and those hereafter
to be done need another to recount them. The feeble
pen, which traces these lines, were not worthy to reveal
in full the life of Father Sorin.

But of Notre Dame, this pen can write, if not in a
worthy manner, at least with a great deal of affection-
ate regard and kindly feelings for every person and every
thing connected with it ; it can essay to offer a tribute of
praise to its Patroness, of profound and affectionate
regard to its Founder, of respect and cordial esteem to
the members of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and
the Faculty of Notre Dame, and of hearty, sympathetic
sentiments to all the Alumni the old boys, and to the
actual students of the College.

To begin :

Notre Dame du Lac was purchased in 1830 by Rev.
Theodore Badin, the first priest ever ordained in the
United States. It was then known by the Indians and
the few settlers around as Ste. Marie des Lacs, and was
made by Father Badin the centre of quite a range ot


missions, and the residence of the priest who attended
the scattering Catholic population of Northern Indiana
and Southern Michigan. The missions extended from
Cold Water, east, to the Illinois line, west, and from Kala-
mazoo, north, to Rochester, south. It is true that those
villages and others on the confines of the circle were
occasionally visited by priests from other neighboring
missions, but, until the formation of the northern part of
Indiana into a separate diocese, all of the country con-
tained within the circumference of a circle passing
through these points, with Notre Dame as a centre, was
attended from the latter place.

Father Badin having purchased the land and estab-
lished the little log church as a central point, did not
leave this part of the country without attending to the
wants of the poor savages who still dwelt in Northern
Indiana, many of them were already Catholics, and
the rest were converted to the Catholic religion by
Father Badin and his worthy successors in these mis-
sions, the first of whom was Father Deseille. This
zealous priest, dwelling amid the hardships of the early
missions, displayed the courage and self-abnegation of
the true missionary and apostle. Everything seemed
to promise him a long life among his flock, but death
soon summoned him, and in 1838 he died in his poor log
church, alone. No, not alone, but with God, and no
mortal near. With the last feeble remnant of his strength
he dragged himself to the altar, and with his own hands


gave himself the Holy Yiaticum for the great journey to
eternity, then laid himself down to die at the foot of the
altar on which he had so often and with so much fervor
offered up the Divine Victim.

The excellent Father Petit, who from a lawyer of
Rennes, became a missionary in the diocese of Vin-
cennes, was sent the day after his ordination to replace
Father Deseille. He took up his residence in the log
house of Ste. Marie des Lacs, but lived there only a
short time ; death marked him on the very commence-
ment of his missionary career, but not before he had
endeared himself in an extraordinary degree to all who
knew him. He died in St. Louis on his return from an
expedition to the West, whither he had accompanied sea
chers Indiens, to the lands provided for them beyond the
Mississippi. His name is held in veneration by all who
can appreciate self sacrifice, and devotedness to the
welfare of others. During his short residence at Ste.
Marie des Lacs, he baptized with his own hand three
hundred Indians, and had as many as two hundred of
them confirmed at one time, in the log church by the
side of the lake. It seemed just and proper that the
body of Father Petit should have its last resting place
after death where he had done so much good during life.
In 1857, Father Sorin had the mortal remains of the
faithful priest and zealous missionary brought to Notre
Dame, where, in the church, they repose by the side of his


predecessor, Father Deseille, and of a worthy successor
to his apostolic labors, Rev. Father Francis Cointet.

The death of Father Petit left the missions around
Ste. Marie des Lacs in an abandoned state ; it was then
that Rt. Rev. C. de la Hailandiere, Bishop of Yincennes,
the successor of the saintly Bishop Brute", offered the
grounds of Ste. Marie des Lacs to Father Sorin on con-
dition that in a certain space of time the latter should
put up a college building and maintain it.

Thus, Ste. Marie des Lacs became Notre Dame du Lac,
and the log church, 20 by 40, with a little frame house
adjoining has been transformed into the present estab-
lishment of Notre Dame.

When Father Sorin viewed the snow covered ground
of Notre Dame, the 26th of November, 1842, he had
just arrived from Yincennes, near which he had, one
year before, founded a religious establishment of Broth-
ers, who had accompanied him from the city of Mans,
and whose numbers had been increased by several Pos-
tulants. Leaving this establishment St. Peter's it was
called in the care of Brother Yincent, Father Sorin took
seven Brothers with him and started for his new mission.
His companions were Brothers Francis Xavier, Gatien,
Patrick, William, Basil, Pierre and Francis, all of whom
have gone to their last long rest, except Brother Francis
Xavier, who has made the coffins of all who have died
at Notre Dame, and most likely will do the same kind


office for many more yet before lie drives the last nail
into his own.

Notre Dame is on a farm originally of over six hun-
dred acres, lying on the right bank of St. Joseph's River,
in St. Joseph County, Indiana, about two miles from the
railroad station at South Bend, on the M. S. & N. I. R.
R. which connects Chicago with Toledo and Detroit', and
ten miles from the railroad station in Niles, on the Mich-
igan Central which also connects Chicago and Detroit.
It is unnecessary to enter into further details to show that
Notre Dame is of easy access by railroad from all parts
of the United States and Canada.

The city of Chicago is about three hours easy ride
from Notre Dame, and supplies the establishment with
lea and coffee.

Having thus briefly pointed out the exact topography
and the relative positions of Chicago and Notre Dame,
for the benefit of the few who, at this date, may be igno-
rant of the exact position of those important places we
go back to the early days of the establishment.

The farm of Notre Dame, in those days consisted of
six hundred and fifteen acres, of which only ten were
cleared, the other acres being covered with forest trees
and thick underbrush, except some hundred or more that
were covered by the water of the lakelets from which
the establishment took its name. These lakes are about
twenty-five or thirty feet deep ; the banks consist of marl
from which excellent lime is made.


The only house on the premises was the one before
alluded to, built of logs, in the old style of log cabin
forty feet by twenty-four. The ground floor was the res-
idence of the priest, while the upper story was the only
church or chapel for the Catholics of South Bend and
aroundabout. A small frame house clinging to this sturdy
log one, was occupied by the family of a man who acted
as interpreter between the Indians and whites when
occasion required.

It would give us great pleasure, and no doubt it would
give as much to our readers, to dwell on this part of the
history of Notre Dame, to note the size and population
of the villages in the neighborhood and other interesting
trifles, but it would make our unpretentious narrative
too voluminous. We cannot, however, pass over in
silence one feature of those far off and long past days,
the recalling of which will demonstrate as much the lib-
eral views and enlightment of the majority of non-Cath-
olics of the present day as it will bring in bold relief the
bigotry and ignorance of the orthodox protestant pulpits
of those dark ages. Those were the days when meeting
houses were plenty, and Catholics scattered about, rarely
seeing a priest, and, though strong in their faith, but
poorly instructed in their belief and generally unable to
refute the vast amount of calumny that was heaped upon
the Catholic Church. South Bend, then, as now was a
very religious and, to judge from the numbers of church
steeples, very pious place. Mishawaka, never liking to be


behind the age or South Bend, ran several churches aiong
with its foundries. Niles boasted its half dozen or more
steeples. "When it was known that Father Sorin and the
seven Brothers had arrived at Notre Dame, and that he
intended putting up a Catholic College, there was much
trouble among the reverend gentlemen who held, forth in
the pulpits of the towns above mentioned. Father Sorin
was at once multiplied by twelve, and was macle to stand
for one dozen Popish Priests, it was considered a fair val-
uation, rather under than over the mark, to count the
seven Brothers, twenty. And it was -announced that
twelve Roman Priests and twenty Monks were " out at
the lake " that the Pope of Rome, (Oh, my brethren,
O-o-h!) had already sent $90,000 to Father Sorin, and
would shortly send over the trifling sum of $10,000 more
to make a round figure. The above is no fancy sketch but
actually took place, and no doubt some good souls listen-
ing to those men of peace and goodwill, thought that the
Pope would soon come and settle in South Bend or Mish-
awaka. Such exaggeration, however, only proves that
some of the reverend gentlemen had a vivid imagination
which, if applied to legitimate, objects, poetry, for in-
stance, or anniversary meeting's of Bible and Missionary
Societies, might produce no evil *effect ; but in this case
they came near doing harm, which we cannot believe
they really intended ; when the walls of the old College
building were going up, some of the excited ones took


delight in threatening that as soon as the College was
built they would burn it to the ground.

Such threats, we now know, were in many instances
made more as a joke than in real earnest, and we hope
such wa|| the case in this instance ; but we need only
to look at Charlestown convent, and the rebuilt Catho-
lic churches of Philadelphia, to assure ourselves they
were not always empty threats ; and we need not be
surprised, therefore, if men lately arrived in the country
should have been alarmed.

It is a pleasure to testify here, and thus give a big
advertisement to South Bend, in which we take great
interest, that the city follows the Progress of the Age,
and keeps up with the times ; and if any remnant of the
ignorance of these past days remain, its effects are
shown, not in a desire to burn down houses that are
ornaments to city and country, but rather in the harm-
less tirades against the Pope, made by the very few who
have not yet laid aside the prejudices of their child-
hood's days, or perhaps have not had an opportunity of
knowing better.

Brother Yincent, who had accompanied Father Sorin
from France, and whom we all know as the venerable
Director of the Brothers' Novitiate, where he is so
highly revered, could not remain at St. Peter's while
Father Sorin was at Notre Dame ; by his advice, and
having obtained permission, he transplanted the whole
establishment of St. Peter's to Notre Dame, in the


month of February, 1843. He and Brother Lawrence
have been throughout the efficient aids of Father Sorin.
Father Sorin's joy at their arrival was no less than the
Brothers', and theirs may be judged from what he wrote
shortly after their arrival : " Our separation had lasted
four months it seemed to them four years." Leur sepa-
ration n'avait dur6 que quatre mois, elle leur avaitparu
quatre annees.

Before the arrival of Brother Yincent and his colony
from St. Peter's, Father Sorin had made bargains for
the brick, lumber, etc., to begin building the College as
soon as the spring would open ; but a more pressing
need had to be attended to ; a church had to be built.
An appeal was made to the few Catholics around;
they could or would do little most of them were poor,
many were not very fervent. However, a subscription
was made : it was paid in labor. On a certain time
they got together; cut down logs enough to build a
church forty-six feet long and twenty wide ; when the logs
were hauled to the spot where the church was to be
built, near the old log house near where the barn now
stands, the people assembled, and soon rolled the
building up, and then departed, leaving Father Sorin to
finish it. This he did, with the assistance of the
Brothers, and, as may readily be supposed, without
going to much expense for ornamental architecture.
This building was used as a church until 1848 ; it
caught fire accidentally in 1856, and in spite of the


efforts made by students, professors, Brothers and
priests, who wished to preserve it as a monument of the
past, it burned to the ground, and nearly made a gen-
eral conflagration of the church and College.

The winter of 1842-43 was very severe ; for full five
months the ground was covered with snow ; the spring
was late ; some of the contractors who had bargained to
furnish materials for building failed to fulfill their en-
gagement ; the architect did not arrive at the appointed
time, and so many things conspired against the erection of
the College and the want of funds was not the least
obstacle in the way that it was determined not to begin
the College until the following year.

A valuable addition was made in the month of July
to the members of the community by the arrival of the
second colony from France, consisting of Father Cointet,
M. 1'Abbe Marivault, and M. 1'Abbe Gouesse, one lay
brother, and three religieuses, Sister Mary of Bethle-
hem, Sister Mary of Calvary, and Sister Mary of

As the design of building the College that year was
abandoned, a smaller house was decided upon, and the
brick building close by the lake known now as The Farm
House was erected. The Community of Notre Dame,
which now began to be numerous, had finished their an-
nual spiritual retreat, when late in August the architect
arrived from Yincennes with workmen to begin the Col-
lege. On the 28th of August the corner-stone was laid;


the building was pushed forward, and by the month of
December it was under roof but the plastering had to
be postponed until the following spring. In the month
of June, the few pupils who had been accommodated in
the brick house near the lake, were removed to the College
building, and in the month of August took place the
first Commencement Exercises of Notre Dame.

Before the College walls were up to the third story,
measures had been taken to secure a Charter for the
College and for the Manual Labor School, which latter
establishment was, and has ever been, one of the favor-
ite enterprises of Father Sorin.

Stern duty compelled us, as veracious chroniclers, to
mention some manifestations of bigotry and ignorance
displayed against the Order of Holy Cross on the first
arrival of Father Sorin ; the same duty now becomes a
pleasure, as it requires us to record an act of spontaneous
kindness on the part of a member of the Methodist de-
nomination, Mr. Dufrees. This gentleman was then the
representative of St. Joseph County in the State Legisla-
ture ; he generously suggested to Father Sorin the idea of
applying for a Charter, and through the aid of Mr. Dufrees
one was obtained for the College, with the title of
University, and another for the Manual Labor School.

As we are on this agreeable subject, we would like
to mention the names of all who from this time forward
came out bravely as friends to Father Sorin and the grand
undertaking he had in hand. But to mention all would


be impossible. "We cannot, however, pass over the name
of Mr. Samuel Byerley, who received Father Sorin with
great hospitality on his first arrival in New York in
1841. when he landed on the 13th of September, the
eve of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.*
Both Mr. and Mrs. Byerley manifested to Father Sorin
and his community that affable and unpretending hos-
pitality for which they have always been distinguished.

The first building erected was the central part of the old
College edifice : as near as we can remember, it was
four stories high, eighty feet long, and forty or fifty

One of the reminiscences that Father Sorin recalls
with the most pleasurable emotions, and of which we
have often heard him speak, is the retreat he made in
1843 on the mound between the two lakelets of Notre
Dame.f While making this retreat he did not think it
a waste of time to occupy a part of each day in clearing
off the ground on which to build a Chapel. This was in
the month of November ; next spring all were busy
building the College; and the Chapel was not finished

* Father Sorin always considered it as a particular favor from God
that the first Mass he said in America was on a feast in honor of the
exaltation of that Holy Cross, the symbol of his faith, the title of his
religious order, and to exalt which he left country and home.

f The upper one is called St. Joseph's Lake, and the lower St.


until November, 1844. The Novitiate of the Brothers
was erected at the same time. The Chapel and Novitiate
stood until the year 1858, when it was torn down and
replaced by the present building, which for the past
month or so has been occupied by the Professed Brothers.
The little Chapel was blessed on the 8th of December,
1844, under the title of the Most Holy and Immaculate
Heart of Mary ; and on the same day the Archconfrater-
nity, the oldest society of the students of Notre Dame, was
established in this Chapel. Well do we remember how,
some years later, the students used to crowd in this
quaint octagonal Chapel on Saturday mornings. May
the memory of such mornings recall to a sense of their
duty to God and themselves any Catholic, now well on in
years, who may have forgotten the practice of his relig-
ious duties !

It was in that modest, retired chapel that the whole
community of Notre Dame assembled in times of joy
to thank God, and in times of sadness and grief to beg
His aid. In 1847, on the 19th of March, it was enriched
with the precious body of St. Severa, virgin and martyr,
given to the Chapel by Bishop Haihmdiere, on his return
from Rome in 1845. There, also, the Community hon-
ored the most sacred Passion and Death of Our Lord,
by making the Way of the Cross, which was erected in
that Chapel the 14th of March, 1845, the first erected at
Notre Dame. In it the devotion of the Forty Hours
was first made by the community and students. In it


the Archbishop then Bishop of Cincinnati, the Bish-
ops of Milwaukee and Detroit, said Mass with evident

Mrs. Byerley furnished it with a beautiful carpet, and
Bro. Francis Xavier taxed his taste and skill to the
uttermost to adorn the sanctuary. It moves even such
cold hearts as ours is to listen to good Brother Vincent
and other of the more ancient Brothers recount the glo-
ries of that dear little Chapel. It is now of the past
but not forgotten. The Chapel of the Portiuncula,
with its many privileges, has supplanted it on the
"Island." Loretto, with all its charming grace of archi-
tecture and wealth of perfect taste in its decorations,
surpasses it ; but, like the Israelites on beholding the
new Temple and sighing for the old, all those who ever
had the privilege of praying in that dear secluded sanc-
tuary, remember it with affectionate regret. Some years
later,' we remember well, it was a delight to the stu-
dents, some of whom were not overstocked with piety,
to visit that Chapel, and to assemble around the statue
that was afterwards erected in front of the Kovitiate.
In the month of May all would congregate there, and
though the attention of some of the wilder "boys" may
have been at times distracted by the frogs croaking in
the neighboring lakes, the birds chirping in the trees
alongside, and the little chipmonks, and cats that would
sometimes intrude sans ceremonie upon the solemn
scene, much to the joy of the aforesaid "boys," who


were always on the lookout for something to laugh at,
yet we doubt not that even those scapegraces profited
by the excellent short discourses that were then given
by Fathers Sorin, Granger and Cointet, and occasionally
by priests visiting the institution ; that real piety and
solid virtues for after-life were acquired by a discipline
of which visits to this Chapel formed a part, is shown
by the many good citizens of these United States who
were then careless lads, in the group around the statue.
If those youngsters profited by the Devotions in spite of
their proclivity to take advantage and enjoy any by-play
or contre-temp that are unavoidable in outdoor exer-
cises, the more serious must have reaped a still more
abundant harvest of grace.

But let us take events in their chronological order,
and not allow our partiality to the little Chapel on the
Island to draw us away from the straight line of histor-
ical rectitude.

Having erected the College building, or as much of
the plan as was deemed necessary at the time, and or-
ganized the religious community of priests and brothers
with the members then residing at Notre Dame, Father
Sorin, with that prudence and foresight that have been
his distinguishing qualities, set about laying the true
foundation, not only of his establishment of Notre Dame,
but of his Order of Holy Cross in America. The So-
ciety of Holy Cross, of which he was one of the very
first members, had been established some years before


in France. Its object was to give missions and re-
treats, to teach in colleges and schools, and to instruct
young lads in trades. Its members were of two classes
priests and lay-brothers.

As soon, therefore, as Father Sorin had built the Col-
lege, to fulfill the terms of the contract he had made
with the Ordinary of the diocese, he began to provide
for a Novitiate, in which men were to be formed to the
religious life, imbued with the same zeal he had for the

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryUniversity of Notre DameSilver jubilee of the University of Notre Dame, June 23rd, 1869 .. → online text (page 1 of 15)