ND Magazine | August 26, 2017
On July 31, 1835, Father Stephen Badin, the first priest ordained in the United States, transfers his claim to 524 acres of land at Sainte-Marie-des-Lacs, which he had intended for the creation of an orphan asylum, to the bishop of Vincennes, Indiana. Seven years later the bishop turns over the property to a 28-year-old missionary priest from France, Father Edward Frederick Sorin of the Congregation of Holy Cross, to build a school.
On November 26, 1842, or maybe November 27, Father Sorin and his Holy Cross brothers — grateful for a meal of hot soup and bread at the home of fur trapper Alexis Coquillard after an 11-days’ journey through “Siberian” cold — brush aside offers of a bed and ask to be led to their new mission field.
After spending a frigid winter exposed to the elements and trying to rebuild Badin’s dilapidated cabin-chapel, Sorin and his brothers finish patching the roof on March 19, 1843.
In July 1843 four sisters — Mary of the Sacred Heart, Mary of Bethlehem, Mary of Calvary and Mary of Nazareth — arrive in the company of two priests, a brother and a seminarian, having completed a trip from France every bit as harrowing as Sorin’s. They devote themselves to cooking, washing, mending, nursing and care of the animals, all for the good of the school.
An architect and two laborers arrive on August 24, 1843, to start work on what would become Old College and would survive as the only original landmark from Notre Dame’s founding years.