Edward Sorin, C.S.C.
Edited by James T. Connelly, C.S.C.
When Edward Sorin left France in 1841 to lead the first band of missionaries sent by the Congregation of Holy Cross to the New World, the rule of the young community required him to keep and send back to France an annual account of the significant events in the life and work of the men and women on the American mission. Chronicles of Notre Dame du Lac contains this running account of the history of the University of Notre Dame—from its foundation in 1842 through the end of the Civil War—written by the man honored as its founder and whose vision for this now world-famous Catholic university is still invoked today.
Through crippling snow storms, devastating fires, and epidemics of cholera and typhoid, the men and women of Holy Cross persisted in their mission to build a college on “this property [that] was then known as St. Mary of the Lakes … half a league from South Bend; one league from the northern boundary of Indiana; about twelve leagues from Lake Michigan.” With warmth and humor Sorin discusses their humble beginnings, “A single room was placed at the service of the priests, and the Sisters had to themselves the ground floor below the chapel, where they spent nearly two years. Except for the fact that there was only one window, and in consequence of the close atmosphere there was a large stock of lice and bed bugs, they were, as they say in America, pretty comfortable.” Sorin’s judgments of people and events are recorded with a blunt frankness, including his conflicts with various bishops and his own superior general back in France. If his biases are revealed in these chronicles, so, too, is his commitment to the projects that shaped his life and work.
“For Protestants who picture that school as a flagship sailing under papal banners, an outpost of monolithic Catholicism in Protestant Indiana, the darling of Midwestern Catholics, these chronicles will be eye-openers.”