Sunday, December 05, 2004

162 years ago today | by Pat

While we hear the names of every head coaching candidate under the sun and news of the irrelevancy of Notre Dame's football program continues to lead off every sports show and editorial column, today is a good day to pause and look back to where it all started.

December 5, 1842

Beloved Father,
When we least dreamed of it, we were offered an excellent piece of property, about 640 acres in extent. This land is located in the county of St. Joseph on the banks of the St. Joseph River, not far from the city of St. Joseph (Michigan). It is a delightfully quiet place, about twenty minutes from South Bend. This attractive spot has taken from the lake which surrounds it the beautiful name of Notre Dame du Lac. . . . It is from here that I write you now.

Everything was frozen over. Yet it all seemed so beautiful. The lake, especially, with its broad carpet of dazzling white snow, quite naturally reminded us of the spotless purity of our August Lady whose name it bears, and also of the purity of soul that should mark the new inhabitants of this chosen spot . . . . We were in a hurry to enjoy all the scenery along the lakeshore of which we had heard so much. Though it was quite cold, we went to the very end of the lake, and like children, came back fascinated with the marvelous beauties of our new home. . . . Once more, we felt that Providence had been good to us and we blessed God from the depths of our soul.

Will you permit me, dear Father, to share with you a preoccupation which gives me no rest? Briefly, it is this: Notre Dame du Lac was given to us by the bishop only on condition that we establish here a college at the earliest opportunity. As there is no other school within more than a hundred miles, this college cannot fail to succeed. . . . Before long, it will develop on a large scale. . . . It will be one of the most powerful means for good in this country.

Finally, dear Father, you cannot help see that this new branch of your family is destined to grow under the protection of Our Lady of the Lake and of St. Joseph. At least, this is my deep conviction. Time will tell if I am wrong.

E. Sorin