Founding Notre Dame

In 1841, at the young age of 27, Fr. Sorin embarked on an assignment given to him by Blessed Basil Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. Sorin was to take a group of Holy Cross religious and found a college in the United States, in the Diocese of Vincennes, Indiana.

After spending a year in the southern part of the diocese, Fr. Sorin and seven of the brothers arrived on November 26, 1842, to a missionary outpost near South Bend, Ind. There, they took possession of 524 snow-covered acres and founded a new school in honor of the Mother of God, L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac (The University of Our Lady of the Lake).

The only shelter then standing on the 524-acre site was, Father Sorin wrote in his journal, “an old log cabin, 24 × 40 feet, the ground floor of which answered as a room for a priest, and the story above for a chapel for the Catholics of South Bend and the neighborhood, although it was open to all the winds.”

Undaunted by the cabin’s dilapidation, Father Sorin envisioned there what he soon began to build and to call “L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac” (the University of Our Lady of the Lake), insisting that the new school would become “one of the most powerful means for good in this country.”