description of the Log Chapel is from the superb
guide book, Notre Dame, the Official Campus Guide,
by Damaine Vonada. It's available in the book section at: http://www.irishlegends.com/Pages/guidebk.html
In 1842, when
Father Sorin and his band of Holy Cross brothers first arrived
at the mission site that they would transform into a
university, they found a small log cabin near St. mary's Lake.
It had been built a decade before and used as a chapel by Rev.
Stephen Badin, and indefatigable frontier priest who resumed
the missionary work that Father Claude Allouez, the
Potawatomi's first "Black Robe," began near South
Bend in the late 1600s. Father Sorin and his companions lived
on the first floor of the cabin, and they put their chapel in
the small attic. Until they could build more adequate
structures, that rude cabin was the University of Notre Dame.
The Log Chapel that
you see today is not the cabin Badin built, but a replica. The
original cabin burned down in 1856, and this copy was
constructed 50 years later. Erected very close to the
original's site, it serves as a rustic, but meaningful
reminder of both Notre Dame's humble roots and the hardships
faced by the missionaries who labored there. The plans for the
Log Chapel were based on the memories of elderly Holy Cross
brothers who had actually lived or worshipped in the Badin
cabin, and it was constructed by William Arnett of Kentucky, a
former slave who knew how to hand hew logs with a broadax.
Father Badin is now entombed under the floor of the Log
Chapel. Although he died and was originally buried in
Cincinnati, he had often told Father Sorin that he wanted to
be laid to rest at Notre Dame. After his cabin was
reconstructed, Badin's remains were moved in order to finally
grant his wish. Three other missionary priests are also
interred beneath the Log Chapel: Franyois Cointet, a classmate
of Father Sorin's who died during the cholera epidemic that
ravaged Notre Dame in the 1850s; Benjamin Petit, who passed
away after accompanying the Potawatomis when they were forced
to move to a reservation in Kansas; and the overworked Louis
DeSeille, who died in Badin's original cabin. The young
priest's final hours are depicted in The Last Communion of
Fr. Louis DeSeille, a painting by Notre Dame artist John
Worden that hangs near the Log Chapel's tabernacle.
The simple interior of
the Log Chapel is also enhanced by a painting of the Madonna
and Child by Notre Dame's first artist-in-residence, Luigi
Gregori. Its altar, which is made of cherry planks fastened by
wooden pegs, came from a mission that Father Sorin started in
nearby Bertrand, Michigan, for the Sisters of Holy Cross.
Displayed in the sacristy are numerous items that belonged to
several early priests and missionaries, including the
vestments of Father Jacques Marquette, who accompanied the
seventeenth- century explorer Louis Joliet. Although the Log
Chapel is quite small, its enormous symbolic significance in
Notre Dame's development makes it a popular site for weddings
and baptisms, and you'll often see beaming parents and
godparents bringing infants there. Also used for mass, prayer
meetings, saying the rosary, and special events, the Log
Chapel is usually open to the public on graduation and home
football game weekends.