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Prayer for the Cause of Bishop Bruté

Heavenly Father,
source of all that is holy,
in every age, you raise up
men and women who live lives
of heroic love and service.

You have blessed your Church
through the life of Simon Bruté,
first bishop of Vincennes
and spiritual director
to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Through his prayer, his intellect,
his love, and his pastoral care,
Simon Bruté formed future priests
and guided your Church
in the early days of our country.

If it be your will,
may he be proclaimed a saint.
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
our Lord. —Amen.

(Contributions to defray the expenses in furthering the Cause should be sent to Bishop Bruté Fund, Archdiocese of Indianapolis, P.O. Box 1410, Indianapolis, IN 46206.)



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Mother Theodore Guérin

I am simply repeating, for the most part, what I have posted in past years because I feel that Mother Theodore’s simplicity and humility speak volumes about her

Mother Theodore, Anne-Thérèse Guérin, Saint Theodora Guérin died on May 14, 1856 – 161 years ago. The official website of the Sisters of Providence . has the following posted

The “Catholic Telegraph and Advocate” in Cincinnati, Ohio, published the following notice about Mother Theodore’s death:

“Died – At Saint Mary’s-of-the-Woods (sic), in the 58th year of her age, Wednesday, 14th inst., Sister St. Theodore, Superior General of the Sisters of Providence in Indiana.

“This woman, distinguished by her eminent virtues, governed the community of which she was the superior from its commencement, to the time of her death, a period of nearly sixteen years. Being a perfect religious herself, and endowed with mental qualities of a high order, she was peculiarly fitted to fill the duties which Providence assigned her.

“Not only her Sisters are bereaved by her death, but all those who knew her excellence and the amount of good she did, join in lamenting that she should have been removed from the sphere of her usefulness. To judge from the celestial expression of her countenance as she lay in death, there is every reason to believe that she has already taken her abode among the Saints in Heaven, enjoying the munificence of God, who rewards His servants ‘according to their works.’”

One of the overlooked heroes of the early Church in Indiana, Father John Corbe wrote, upon the death of Mother Theodore:

“Mother Theodore and Sister Saint Francis both loved God with all the strength of their ardent souls; they served Him with the most perfect devotedness, and both terminated their careers of virtue and good works in the most cruel suffering, but they loved and desired these sufferings, and their happiness as they said themselves, was to be on the cross with their Beloved … If God has sent them almost the same sufferings, He has also bestowed upon them the same favors. He has given them a foretaste of the joys of heaven by visions and extraordinary consolations.

Both have already given indubitable marks of their power with God … I hope that these proofs will multiply and that God will glorify before men those who have sacrificed everything for Him with so much generosity.”1

Sister Mary Thedosia Mug, who wrote the first extensive history of the Sisters and Mother Theodore said, speaking of the reaction of those who knew Mother Theodore:

When Father Chasse visited Mother Theodore during her last illness she asked him to return to sing her Requiem Mass as Father Corbe she knew would feel her death too much to be able to sing It was as she expected Father Corbe was deeply affected but he was present beside the Bishop in the sanctuary The funeral oration was delivered by Rt Rev Bishop St Palais whose emotion was evident Rather than a highly wrought panegyric it was an effusion of tenderness and personal reverence for the one whose great and limpid soul he had known so intimately His own tears blended with the grief of the Community and he promised that now as they had lost their Mother more than ever would he be their Father All accompanied the remains to their last resting place near the Chapel of St Ann where four of their number had already been laid to rest Some years later seeing that the spot chosen would eventually be too small the remains of all buried there were transferred to the present cemetery in the centre of which is the grave of the venerated Foundress.2

[Fr. John Chasse was a member of the Society of Eudists, brought to Vincennes by Bishop Bruté. He had succeeded Fr. John Corbe as chaplain to the Sisters]

Pretty simple stuff for such a holy woman! But, perhaps that is the point. How blessed we are to have a Saint of the Universal Catholic Church here in Indiana!

  1. John Corbe to A Mme. Le Fer de la Motte, 11 June 1856-SMW Archives []
  2. Life and Life-work of Mother Theodore Guerin: Foundress of the Sisters of Providence… By Mary Theodosia Mug, p.491 []

The Death Father Michael Shawe

If you are from Madison Indiana, you know the name Shawe. You may not know who Shawe was, but you would know the name. If you are not from Madison, you may have never heard the name.

This all refers to one of the early priests in the Diocese of Vincennes and the only English speaking priest of the group of ordinands of Bishop Bruté, who arrived in 1836, namely Michael Edgar Evelyn Shawe, a frontier priest with a very “stuffy” English name! And yet, many of Bishop Bruté’s early recruits were from a noble background. How and why did this missionary end up in Detroit, only to be killed after he was thrown from his buggy? May 12th is the 164th anniversary of his death.

This article, from Illinois Catholic Historical Review tells part of his story:

…Young Shawe, De St. Palais.’ and some other young French nobleman accompanied Bishop Brute to Indiana at the time, the most God-forsaken State in the Western Country. Shawe, with other young volunteers, was ordained, and soon put on his missionary harness. Then he became Father Shawe, the only English-speaking priest on the mission, but French and German were as familiar to his tongue and no less eloquently preached. With his own personal fortune he built a stone church at Madison, which he dedicated to his patron, Saint Michael.

The Bishop’s death was succeeded by intrigue among his French associates, and in disgust Father Shawe, at the invitation of Father Edward Sorin, left the sacerdotal family of Vincennes and became professor of English literature in the University of Notre Dame. He was intensely English, anti-American to some extent: while at that time Notre Dame’s faculty was to a great extent as intensely French, as Father Shawe was English, in their tendencies. Some of these gentlemen were ex-militarists, and quite sensitive about the misfortunes under which the military glory of their country had succumbed. The majority were too strong for Father Shawe in this sentimental battle, and after establishing the English chair in such a manner that the present staff of Notre Dame accord the highest tribute to his wonderful ability and method, he, with the blessing of Father Sorin and the love and esteem of his associates, left the university and came to Detroit, to resume the active functions of his sacerdotal state and to enjoy life in a city so Catholic as was and is Detroit, and in society which his aristocratic attributes so well fitted him to adorn. His advent was a God-send to Bishop Lefevre. His learning, his eloquence, his experience and his personal fortune and sincere piety, soon became effective aids in the pastorate of the Irish congregation of Holy Trinity Church, to which he was assigned upon his arrival in 1845. Father Shawe was thrown from his carriage in April, 1853, and died May 10, following. R. I. P. 1

I don’t quite know what “The Bishop’s death was succeeded by intrigue among his French associates” means. Perhaps they were referring to Bishop Hailandiere, or, this is another way to explain how a lot of “behind the scenes” activities, or “clerical politics” went on. There were a number of priests who left the Diocese during the episcopate of Bishop Hailandiere. This was standard procedure in those days. Father Sorin and his band of brothers went from Saint Peter’s, near what is now Washington Indiana to South Bend, some say, to get as far from the good bishop as possible. Father Shawe went to Notre Dame and spent some time before he went there “officially”

The Notre Dame Archives has a hand written letter from Father Shawe to Father Sorin, taking him up on his offer to come to Notre Dame. In the letter Shawe says that he had permission from the bishop. Many did not, including the Vicar General, August Martin who left the diocese claiming ill health. You can view the letter Father Shawe sent to Father Sorin by going to the Notre Dame Archives to view this PDF file which was written March 4, 1846.

After he joined the faculty at Notre Dame, Shawe taught Latin, Greek and English and continued to preach, which by all accounts was excellent. His sermons were apparently heard by Bishop Peter Paul Lefevere, Coadjutor of the Diocese of Detroit who convinced Shawe to come to Detroit where he became the pastor of the new cathedral when it opened.2

It has also been suggested that another reason for Shawe’s departure from the diocese was the failure of St. Gabriel College in Vincennes, run by the Eudist Fathers who were recalled to France. Shawe, while serving at the Cathedral in Vincennes, also taught at St. Gabriel’s. I am sure there had to be some “rub” between the Englsih Father Shawe and the French clergy who were obviously very numerous in the Diocese of Vincennes.

Here is an account, published in 1897 which is typical of the way many disagreements were described.

St. Michael, Edgar, Evelyn, Shawe, was ordained by Bishop Brute at Vincennes, March 12, 1837, and soon afterwards commenced missionary work in a district of country which would be difficult to describe. The greater part of Indiana at the time comprising the spiritual fold of Bishop Brute was sparsely settled and by a population to whom the expression ^poor white trash,” would most fitly apply to their condition generally.

Crude as this people are reported to have been, they appear not to have-been adverse to religious instruction; here and there, were to be found Catholic families, or groups of settlers originally Catholics, but who for want of pastoral care had lapsed, in some cases to Methodism, or who in other cases, and frequently, had become disinclined to submit to religious-control ; but there were also to be found many Catholic families of intelligence and respectability.

Father Shawe was the only priest to whom the English language was. natural, on this mission during the early years of its history. Whenever he found himself in a place of any considerable size, he made arrangements to preach; it was all the same to him whether his audience was to be Catholic or mixed; he usually drew full houses, for an English sermon from a man as eloquent as he was reputed to be and so gifted in the use of his mother tongue, was a rare treat in those days and in those regions; rough mannered as the people are reported to have been, they seemed to have had a great inclination to hear eloquent preachers. So familiar had he become in the use of the French language, that he could preach a French sermon whenever such became necessary; he could also preach in the German language, and from his ability to use these languages he was well adapted for the apostolic work in which he was engaged.

His voice was clear and strong, his figure robust, while his gentle and pleasing manner toned down the martial air which his army life had indelibly left upon him. His face was florid, his hair black, and his rather prominent nose, on which the cicatrices of the transverse cut of the sabre of the French cuirassier officer at Waterloo was plainly visible, was a leading feature in his countenance.

One decided trait in his character should be mentioned; he was proud of his mother country, whose aristocratic government, whose institutions, and whose laws he admired, and had strong faith in. I do not hesitate to say Father Shawe was the most intensified Englishman I ever met. What he saw in Indiana of our own system of government, taken in connection at that time with the ill treatment and wrongs inflicted in the forced removal of Catholic Indian tribes, did not tend to create in his mind much respect for American institutions. This peculiar pride of race and this marked nationality in the make up of Father Shawe, was probably the cause of estrangements after his beloved bishop’s death, with his brother priests and ecclesiastical superiors. They were all Frenchmen, while but a comparatively short period previously he had crossed swords with their defeated countrymen and friends. Besides, at that time in that diocese, French influence was paramount; it ruled and shaped results, and it so remained until the advent of a new episcopacy.

During his missionary experience it became the lot of Father Shawe to be settled in Madison, Indiana. In that city he founded and built St. Michael’s Church, dedicated to his great patron saint. To do this he used a portion of his private fortune, and to release the church from the debt remaining after completion, he had to beg for means in the eastern cities and in Canada.

Deaths, resignations, and changes in the Episcopacy of Vincennes, joined to climatic effects on his health induced Father Shawe to retire from active missionary labors.

Father Sorin invited him to assume the chair of English Literature in the University of Notre Dame, which invitation he accepted; he organized a faculty for an English course, laid the foundation of its efficiency, and of the prominent place it occupies in this great institution of learning.

Desiring once more to mingle with the world, to enjoy that refined society in which he was so well adapted to shine, and to enjoy moreover, living among a people whose language was akin to his own, he bade adieu to the President and Faculty of Notre Dame and came to Detroit in 1845.

He was received by Bishop Lefevere and assigned to the pastorate of the Irish Catholic congregation of Trinity Church. When the cathedral was dedicated in June 1848, Trinity was closed, while its congregation was transferred to the cathedral of which Father Shawe became first pastor. In Detroit at the time, there was Ste. Anne’s, for the Catholics of the French race; and St. Mary’s, for the German Catholics; Saints Peter and Paul was the only English speaking congregation in all the city.

Consequently the pastor of such a congregation had a large jurisdiction with much responsibility, and no end of parochial work. In this position, the many brilliant qualities of Father Shawe, his great piety, his watchful care of the religious and temporal interests of his parishioners, his charitable work, joined to his great eloquence in the pulpit won for him the love and esteem of the people. No man was better known in Detroit among all creeds and classes than Father Shawe. He was highly esteemed and respected by Bishop Lefevere and his episcopal household. Kind hearted by nature he was liberal in the use of his personal fortune for the alleviation of distress.

The misery entailed by the Irish famine caused the emigration of many families who landed upon our shores in destitute circumstances; tor the relief of such of these unfortunates as found their way to Detroit, he organized the Irish Emigrant Society and placed funds at the disposition of its officers for use when necessary. Solicitous for the welfare of the working classes he founded the Guild of Saints Peter and Paul, after the model of the English Guilds for workingmen and mechanics.

He was a priest who took especial pride in having all the ceremonies in the cathedral conducted on a scale worthy of Mother Church; he had the acolytes finely robed, and he drilled them to march with military precision. It was, however, in the pulpit, that this distinguished man appeared to great advantage. His exuberance of ideas proper to the subject; his great command of words, his pathos, his splendid voice, which he knew how to use to advantage, and his vigor of expression, combined to make him a great pulpit orator.

Since the Jesuits have had control of the old church many brilliant men have occupied its pulpits; I have listened to most of them, and I have been charmed and affected in turn; but I have never been moved, nor my soul stirred as it has been by the eloquence of Father Shawe. Father Shawe was a welcome as well as an honored guest in the highest circles of the Catholic, as well as of the non Catholic society of Detroit. 3

As written above, he was killed when thrown from his carriage on May 10, 1853. He was buried in the Mount Elliott Cemetery in Detroit. You can see his eleaborate gravestone at the Find-A-Grave website.

  1. Illinois Catholic Historical Review Volume II Number 3 (1920) []
  2. cf. Gorman. p.729 []
  3. American Catholic Historical Researches, Volume 14, Number-2, 1897, pp.50 ff. []

Death of Bishop Bazin

Perhaps, the short term of Bishop John Stephen Bazin is one of the most overlooked periods in Indiana Catholic History. Then again, if you were a member of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods, maybe not! During his time as bishop, from October of 1847 until April of 1848, the young Diocese began a healing process which helped to keep Saint Mother Theodore Geurin in Indiana as well as many priests who had probably considered going different places.

This was all due to the man who preceeded Bazin, Bishop Celestine de la Hailandiere. This is not to “blame” him for the “troubles”, but it does say that he was certainly in the middle of many of them, mostly due to his strict and legalistic ideas about the role and power of a bishop.

However, it was on this day, April 23, 1848, that Bishop Bazin died after only six months as Bishop of Vincennes. He could certainly be seen as a “bridge”, albeit a short one, from those ‘pioneer’ days to the explosion of growth that came to the Indiana Church in the mid 1800’s with the waves of immigrants.

The “Catholic World”, published by the Paulist Fathers, and Isaac Hecker, had an article in their January 1917 issue, entitled Indiana’s Debt to the Catholic Faith”, by Louis P. Harl wrote:

Bishop de la Hailandiere’s successor, Right Reverend John Stephen Bazin, had been qualified by seventeen years of labor in the diocese of Mobile for his new work. He was consecrated in Vincennes on the twenty-fourth of October, 1847, by Bishop Portier, of Mobile. But his career as a bishop was cut short less than six months later by his sudden death, April 23, 1848. He was buried beside Bishop Brute in the Cathedral of Vincennes.

Bishop Bazin was born in Duerne, in the Archdiocese of Lyons, France, on October 15, 1796. He was ordained a priest at Lyons, July 22, 1822. He came to the United States in 1830 and was appointed vicar general of Mobile. As mentioned above, he was consecrated bishop of Vincennes in the cathedral at Vincennes, October 24, 1847, by Bishop Michael Portier of Mobile, assisted by Bishop Purcell of Cincinnati and Bishop de la Hailandière, his predecessor.


Sacramental Records at Vincennes

April 21st, marks the 268th anniversary of the first official entry in the Sacramental Record at Saint Francis Xavier, Vincennes.

In this day and age, when genealogy is still a very popular pastime, the existence of early Church records makes a genealogist’s pulse increase. Although I am sure that many baptisms, marriages etc. were performed in the early history of Indiana, many priests carried their sacramental records with them, mainly because there was no church to deposit the records into. One example of this would be the Sacramental Record carried by Simon Lalumiere and others. This record, located in the Archdiocesan Archives is from Saint Peter, in Daviess County and Saint Joseph in Terre Haute. The link displays a transcript. Original sacramental records normally carry a particular “form”. The rules have not really changed over the years and yet, even to this day, many priests and parishes take the task lightly and records are not always updated. Then there is the problem with penmanship. Some records are very very difficult to read and, as already stated, Sacramental Records have been shuffled around as parishes and priests have moved around.

Canon Law requires that a “parish” maintain their Sacramental Records:

Can. 535 §1. Each parish is to have parochial registers, that is, those of baptisms, marriages, deaths, and others as prescribed by the conference of bishops or the diocesan bishop. The pastor is to see to it that these registers are accurately inscribed and carefully preserved.

§2. In the baptismal register are also to be noted confirmation and those things which pertain to the canonical status of the Christian faithful by reason of marriage, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 1133, of adoption, of the reception of sacred orders, of perpetual profession made in a religious institute, and of change of rite. These notations are always to be noted on a baptismal certificate.

§3. Each parish is to have its own seal. Documents regarding the canonical status of the Christian faithful and all acts which can have juridic importance are to be signed by the pastor or his delegate and sealed with the parochial seal.

§4. In each parish there is to be a storage area, or archive, in which the parochial registers are protected along with letters of bishops and other documents which are to be preserved for reason of necessity or advantage. The pastor is to take care that all of these things, which are to be inspected by the diocesan bishop or his delegate at the time of visitation or at some other opportune time, do not come into the hands of outsiders.

§5. Older parochial registers are also to be carefully protected according to the prescripts of particular law.

Suffice it to say, the Code of Canon Law is not always followed. However, it is always a mark of true ‘stability’, if you will, when a sacramental record ‘stays put’ in one place and taken care of. With that in mind, today we honor the memory of at least three people who helped to make that ‘stability’ happen at St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes. On April 21, 1749 The marriage of Julien Trattier and Josette Marie was witnessed by Fr. Sebastian Louis Meurin S.J.

John Law wrote:

The first entry on the church records here, is dated April 21st, 1749. There is neither title page nor introduction. The first entry is the certificate of marriage between “Julien Trattier, of Montreal, Canada, and Josette Marie, the daughter of a Frenchman and an Indian woman.” The only baptisms recorded during the year, are those of the Indian adults. One of the first deaths was Madam Trattier, aged eighteen years, whose marriage we have above recorded. She was but a short time a bride, having been buried in December, 1750, in the church, under her pew, on the “Gospel side” — so says the record. The resident priest was “Father Sebastian Louis Meurin.” All certificates except those of deaths are signed by “M. de St. Ange, Lieutenant of Marines and Commandant for the King, at Post Vincennes.” Father Meurin left in 1753. His last official act was the burial of “the wife of a Corporal in the garrison, March, 1753.” He was succeeded by “Father Louis Vivier.” His first recorded act is a marriage, May 20th, 1753. On the 24th of the same month he buried “Pierre Leonardy, Lieutenant of the garrison.” His last record is dated August 28th, 1756. The number of baptisms and marriages is small, but increasing. Half of them are of “Red or Indian Slaves,” belonging to the Commandant and to the inhabitants. It was a number of years after the departure of the Jesuits, who had officiated as priests until about the year 1760, that another priest visited Vincennes. During the interregnum, one “Philibert,” Notary Public, administered baptism as a layman, privately, and duly recorded the names of those to whom he administered the rite, on the register.1

In the Illinois Catholic Historical Review2 there is an article about Father Meurin, the Jesuit who made the first entry in the sacramental record. It said:

“In the year one thousand seven hundred and forty nine the 21 day of the month of april ,after having published three bans between julien trottier du rivieres son of julien trottier des rivieres of the parish of Montreal and josette marid daughter of antoine marifi and marie anne chicamicge the parents (“les peres et meres”) living in this parish without their being any impediment, I the undersigned missionary of the company of jesus performing the functions of pastor have received their mutual consent of marriage and have given them the nuptial benediction, with the ceremonies prescribed by Holy Church in the presence of monsieur de St. Ange. Lieutenant of a company of detached marines, Commandant at poste Vincennes, of jean Baptiste Guilbert, Toussaint Guilbert, antoine Bouchard, jean B. Ridet, Louis Gervais witnesses who have signed with me. S. L. Meurin jesuite.

St. Ange Commandant Boucher at poste vincen J. B. Ridday filliatro Louis Gervais
This sheet has been transferred by me the undersigned.
S. L. Meurin Jes.

It went on to say:

This happy family was soon broken up by death. On page 56 of the Records we read:
27 December 1750 died in this parish Josette Marie Wife of julien trottier Desrivieres, trading in this poste, 18 years of age, after having confessed and received the Holy Viaticum and the sacrament of extreme unction. Her body
was buried with the usual ceremonies in the church of the parish under her bench on the gospel side the 28th of said month and year. 8. L. Meurin Jes.

Two months later occurred the death of the infant son, whose birth had most probably occasioned the death of the youthful mother.

“15 February, 1751, died in this parish Julien desriviers son of julien des rivieres & josette marie two months old. Buried with the usual ceremonies in the church of this parish near the body of his mother. S. L. Meurin S. J. ”

[This post originally appeared in April 2016]

  1. Law, John. The Colonial History of Vincennes, under the French, British, and American Governments, from its First Settlement Down to the Territorial Administration of General William Henry Harrison, Being an Address Delivered by Judge John Law, Before the Vincennes Historical and Antiquarian Society, February 22d, 1839, with Additional Notes and Illustrations . Vincennes: Harvey, Mason and Co., 1858 []
  2. Illinois Catholic Historical Review, v.3, n.1 July 1920 []

March Calendar

Time has slipped away and it is almost April. With that in mind, I wanted to post a few items from the calendar that are very important to the history of the Catholic Church in Indiana. This is a lengthy post.

March 22nd is the anniversary of the death of Monsignor John J. Doyle. Msgr. Doyle was born in Indianapolis on March 13, 1898. He attended St. Joseph’s Parish, which was then located on the corner of North Street and College Avenue and is now a local brewery and restaurant. He attended St. Meinrad and was ordained on May 17, 1921 Msgr. Doyle, known to many as the “Mons” spent most of his career as a professor at Marian College in Indianapolis. After his retirement, Monsignor Doyle became the Archivist and Historian of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He contributed much to the understanding of Indiana Catholic Church History. In 1976 he published “The Catholic Church in Indiana 1686-1814“. In 1978 he published “Genealogical Use of Catholic Records in North America” for the Indiana Historical Society. Msgr. Doyle’s love of history, especially his love of history of the Church in Indiana always showed through.

March 25th is the anniversary of the ordination of Father Anthony Deydier who was ordained on Holy Saturday, March 25th, 1837. This was a special time for the Diocese of Vincennes not only because the first ordination in the new Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier had taken place a few weeks earlier, but also because Anthony Deydier, a man who had been ordained a deacon in 1812, was finally being ordained a priest. Deydier grave site at St. Vincent dePaul, Vincennes Why did Deydier wait so long? No one seems to know for sure, however, there are some possible explanations. Deydier was born in 1788 and he left his native France on June 10th, 1810 on the same boat as Simon Brute’. After his ordination to the diaconate he refused ordination to the priesthood and he taught for four years at Mount St. Mary’s eventually ending up in Albany New York as a private tutor. Apparently his association with Brute at Mount St. Mary’s is what led him eventually to his priestly ordination. After his ordination as a priest he was sent to Evansville where, except for a money collection tour, he remained. Much of his time was taken up ministering to the workers on the Wabash and Erie Canal. Deydier’s life in Evansville was not one of leisure. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, foundress of the Sisters of Providence, St. Mary of the Woods wrote in her journal “So extreme was his poverty and so complete his destitution, that I shall run the risk of being accused of exaggeration in describing it.” Deydier also combed the southwestern part of the state, seeking out Catholics. He remained in Evansville until 1859, when he retired to the “Highlands” at Vincennes. He died in 1864.

March 25th also marks 281 years since the death of Father Antonius Senat S.J. On this date, which was Palm Sunday in 1736, Fr. Antoninus Senat S.J. was burned at the stake by Indians. He was pastor of St. Francis Xavier, in Vincennes, according to Cauthorn’s “nine epochs in the history of St. Francis Xavier”1

Fr. Senat was pastor at Kaskaskia, which is where many missionaries had come to Vincennes from. However, it is doubtful that he ever actually visited the post at Vincennes. He accompanied the troops, including the “Sieur de Vincennes” who had gone to fight the Chickasaw Indians. One description, taken from Transactions of the Illinois Historical Society says this:

“Tis malediction I bring to you blessed ones, but I must tell it now and quickly. We went to Fort Prudhomme with the Major, and Vincennes joined us with twenty French and 100 Miamis. We waited long for Bienville; he came not; we waited longer for Moncheval, he was not there. Our maize and hog meat ran short; our Indians were clamorous to begin. We marched alone to the attack. We marched a weary twenty leagues and came to the towns of the Chickasaws; they were awaiting us, and we were forced to attack. We pass two lines of fortification. We are successful but we pay the price. At the third line D’Artaguette falls severely wounded. The Miamis betray us; the Illinois and Missouris run like sheep. They who were so eager to fight are cowards when we need them. We try to drag Father Senat and Vincennes away but they will not come and leave their wounded friend. These, with fifteen others are taken by the fiends. I hang around to try and help them. Bienville attacks from the other side and is defeated with great loss. D’Artaguette,’ Vincennes, Senat and the others remain in the hands of the Chickasaws. Then comes a day of feasting and noise and in the afternoon they bring out the French. They tie them by fours to saplings and (lance the death dance, while I watch from a near by tree. They build piles of hickory poles in circles around them and set fire to the poles, and when the fires burn down they rush in toward them in crowds; they stick them with the hot poles; they discharge their guns loaded only with powder into their bodies. Ali, Jesus. I hear their hateful screams and above all the din the song of Senat as he chanted his requiem mass. My ears ring with it. My eyes burn with the sight until I cannot eat or sleep. And then there was silence and they are all dead-all! all!”

The execution took place in Mississippi. In fact, there is a historical Marker located 1-1/2 miles south of Pontotoc, Pontotoc County, Mississippi which says:

“French Commander was defeated in battle with Chickasaw Indians, May 20, 1736. A week later d’Artaguette, Frances Marie Bissat de Vincennes, Father Artaine Senat, Jesuit Missionary, in all 20 Frenchmen captured were burned at the stake by their captors. Father Senat scorning the offer to escape martyrdom remained with his comrades and entoning the Miserere, led them into the destroying flame.”
Erected by the John Foster Society Children of the American Revolution, Columbus, Mississippi 1934 — Bernard Romans Chapter

Msgr. John J. Doyle, former Archivist of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and author of The Catholic Church in Indiana 1686-1814 has this to say:

The Sieur de Vincennes did not long continue in command of the post that he founded and that came in later years to be called for him. In 1736 he lost his life in a battle with the Chickasaw Indians in what is now the state of Mississippi. Governor Bienville, hoping to crush the Chickasaws and thus gain unimpeded passage on the Mississippi River, planned a concerted attack upon the Indians from the south and- the north. Bienville would lead his troops from New Orleans. He ordered Diron d’Artiguiette, commander at Fort Chartres, to gather the forces of the Illinois district and to meet him. The Illinois contingent was made up of some 140 Frenchmen and 300 Indians. A part of this little army was from the post on the Wabash, led by its young commander. The part played by these men has prompted some to call the expedition Indiana’s first war.
FAILING TO MEET Bienville, who had met with delays, and being nearly out of provisions, d’Artiguiette ordered an attack on a Chickasaw town, in the hope that its store of food would replenish his supplies and that its stockade would affard his men a secure fort to await Bienville’s army. The attack occurred on Palm Sunday, March 25, 1736. It had success at first, but after a while a large force of Chickasaws came forward and overwhelmed the attackers. Fifty or 60 of these were killed and some 20 were carried off wounded. The Chickasaws captured about 20 men and put them to death by burning on the very day of the battle. These included d’Artiguiette himself, who was badly wounded, the officers Pierre St. Ange and Vincennes, and Father Antoine Senat, the Jesuit chaplain.

THERE IS NO REASON to suppose that Father Senat, whom some list among the priests serving at the post on the Wabash, was ever there. It was because of his presence at Kaskaskia, where he was doubtless serving his apprenticeship like d’Outreleau before him, that he went as chaplain on the disastrous expedition that cost him his life. It is likely that his superior thought that this would be good experience for the young man, who had been in the country but a short time. The association of his name with that of Vincennes as a hero on that occasion has led to the mistake that he was the priest at the post on the Wabash. 2

Father Alerding says: “That Father Senat, a Jesuit, was pastor of Vincennes is mere conjecture. Still, it is presumed that he was, for the reason that he accompanied ‘Vincennes’ the commander of the fort…”3

So, today we honor Fr. Senat who died a martyr’s death. He may have never set foot at Vincennes, but his work contributed to the history of the Catholic Church in Indiana.

On March 26, 1878 Silas Chatard, Rector of the North American College in Rome, became the fifth Bishop of Vincennes and also became known as “Francis Silas Chatard”. His full name and title was: Right Rev. Francis Silas Marean Chatard. Marean being his mother’s maiden name.

Chatard was born in Baltimore, Maryland on December 13, 1834. He studied to be and became a medical doctor. He then decided to enter the seminary and he was sent to Rome for studies. He was ordained at Rome on June 14, 1862. He was then named the Vice-rector of the American College, and later the rector upon the transfer of William George McCloskey to become bishop of Louisville in 1868.

Chatard was rector of the American College during the First Vatican Council and many of the American bishops stayed at the college. He was named bishop of Vincennes on March 26, 1878, at which time he took the name Francis Silas. He was consecrated in Rome on May 12, 1878, by Cardinal Alexander Camillus Franchi, assisted by Bishop Santori of Fano, Italy, and Bishop Edward Agnelli, president of the Academia Ecclesiastica at Rome. Enthroned in the cathedral at Vincennes, August 11, 1878. He almost immediately left for Indianapolis where he arrived on August 17, 1878.

Chatard died at Indianapolis on September 7, 1918. His body was interred in the crypt of the cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Indianapolis. On June 8, 1976, Bishop Chatard’s remains were transferred from the cathedral, to the Calvary Chapel Mausoleum, Indianapolis.

Chatard maintained contact with Rome and traveled there often while bishop. He was mentioned prominently as the possible Archbishop of Philadelphia,4 but that promotion never came. Chatard still has family in Baltimore.

Here is the New York Times description of the ceremony of installation in Vincennes:

Installation of Bishop Chatard
Special Dispatch to the New.York Times.

VINCENNES, Aug. 11. To-day, Dr. Chatard, the newly-appointed Bishop of Vincennes, was formally installed by Archbishop PurceIl of Cincinnati, at the Cathedral of St. Xavier. The weather was pleasant and the city, was crowded with visitors from all the surrounding cities. At 10 o’clock a procession of priests passed from the cathedral to the episcopal residence and escorted Dr. Chatard and Archbishop Purcell to the cathedral. The edifice was densely crowded and had been from before 9 o’clock, and hundreds of people were gathered on the sidewalks near the entrance to the cathedral. Upon entering the church the Bishop knelt for a short time in prayer, and was received y Rev. Mr. Guegen, of the cathedral, who presented him, with the crozier and other symbols of his new authority. The Bishop then proceeded to the sanctuary and the celebration of solemn high mass took place, with Rev. Dr.. Chatard as celebrant, Rev. Messrs. Bessonies and Guegen assistants; Fathers Klein and Andran, attendants on the Archbishop, and Revs. P. McDermott and Duddenhausen as chaplains. During the services Archbishop Purcell, in a few well-chosen remarks, introduced Dr. Chatard, who delivered a short address to the people and gave them his blessing. In the afternoon at 2 o’clock a large procession, consisting of the Catholic societies of this city and others from abroad, formed, and escorting the Bishop through the principal streets, returned to the cathedral, when Dr. Chatard conducted the solemn pontifical vespers and gave the Papal benediction. The episcopal residence, the cathedral, and the surrounding grounds I were handsomely decorated with flowers, mottoes, evergreens, and by the Papal and American flags. The diocese over which Bishop Chatard is called to officiate comprises over half the State of Indiana, and contains a Catholic population of 90,000, 150 churches, 120 priests, 20 colleges and academies, two orphan asylums, one theological seminary, and 200 parochial schools. Bishop Chatard, 43 years ago, was educated at Mount St. Mary’s College, Emmettsburg, Md. Having graduated, he studied medicine in Baltimore, and afterward, in the year 1857, finding the priesthood his vocation, went to Rome to pursue the requisite studies. On the appointment of Dr. McCloskey to the Bishopric of Louisville, Dr. Chatard was placed in charge of the American College at Rome, from whence he was called to his present position. He is the fifth Bishop appointed over this diocese, the first Bishop having been appointed in 1834.

Published: August 12, 1878
Copyright The New York Times

On March 28, 1898, the Diocese of Vincennes, officially became the Diocese of Indianapolis. For all intents and purposes that move took place about 20 years previously, in 1878, when Bishop Francis Silas Chatard became the fifth bishop of Vincennes. (He was, of course, also the FIRST Bishop of Indianapolis). By apostolic brief dated March 28, 1898, the title of the diocese was changed to that of the Diocese of Indianapolis, with the episcopal see in the city of Indianapolis. Although the bishop’s official residence was changed, the patron of the diocese remained St. Francis Xavier, the title of the Old Cathedral at Vincennes.

Upon his appointment in 1878, Bishop Francis Chatard was directed to fix his residence at Indianapolis. Although the site of the cathedral and the title of the see were continued at Vincennes, Bishop Chatard used St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis as the cathedral. Even after the see was moved to Indianapolis in 1898, St. John’s continued as the pro-cathedral until the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul was completed in 1907. St. John the Evangelist Parish, established in 1837, was the first parish in Indianapolis and Marion County.

You can read more on Saint John’s in a previous post. There are also a number of sites featuring items (particularly the architecture) on St. John’s. Here is the result of a typical Google search

Also on this day in 1933, Joseph Elmer Ritter was ordained auxiliary bishop at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Indianapolis. Ritter was appointd titular bishop of Hippo and auxiliary to the bishop of Indianapolis on February 3, 1933. He was consecrated in the cathedral at Indianapolis on this day by Bishop Chartrand, assisted by Bishop Emmanuel Ledvina of Corpus Christi and Bishop Alphonse J. Smith of Nashville. He had been named vicar general of the Diocese of Indianapolis two days after the announcement of his appointment as auxiliary, on February 5, 1933.

Upon the death of Chartrand in December of that year, he was named Bishop of Indianapolis, March 24, 1934. Ritter had an enormous impact on the this (Arch)diocese, the Archdiocese of Saint Louis as well as the universal Church. It seems that much has been forgotten about him. Watch this site for more information about him in the coming months.

Finally, the month closes out with the following:
On March 30, 1826 the Vincennes Sun reported:

The cornerstone of the Catholic Cathedral, in this place, was laid on Thursday the 30th by the Rev. Mr. Champomier. A numerous concourse of citizens attended to witness the ceremony”

Vincennes was then mission country and there wasn’t much to the building itself. Bishop Bruté, when he arrived in the Fall of 1834, wrote:

“The Cathedral church, a plain brick building 115 feet long and 60 broad, consisting of the four walls and the roof, unplastered and not even white-washed, no sanctuary, not even a place for preserving the sacred vestments.”

Bruté worked on the building, but in those early days there were many more things to concentrate on. The completion of the building was left to Bruté’s successor, Bishop Hailandiére. He collected funds and used his own money to complete the church, adding the tower and a bell. He completed the interior of the building and added the basement chapel, which includes the place where All the Bishops of Vincennes are buried.

The Church has a long history. In the 1930’s, prior to the celebration of the centennial of the Diocese of Indianapolis (of which Vincennes was still a part) a great deal of work was done on the Cathedral and allied buildings. The “HABS” (Historic American Buildings Survey) made an effort to document the repairs and the history of the structure itself. They produced a number of pictures, one of which, shown here, shows the repairs that were being made to the steeple. Take a look at the full image here

In 1970 it was elevated to the status of a basilica. Today it remains an important part of the Diocese of Evansville. The adjoining Bruté Library contains some of the rarest books in America.

An aside… I found an article in a Logansport Newspaper from 1881. In it, the writer talks about his visit to Vincennes, and he mentions the church saying:

“The first church was founded by Francis Xavier and a building erected of logs, “daubed” with clay and prairie hay, and covered with A thatched roof. How our imagination ran back to 1747 to see walking down the aisle of this rude church a happy bride—happy as brides of to-day are—only a year later to be buried beneath this same aisle.”

One would think that the Jesuits would be interested in knowing that Saint Francis Xavier had founded a church in Indiana…

Other Happenings: It should also be pointed out that on this day in 1841 Father Edward Sorin and his companions set sail for the United States aboard the ship “Iowa”. Sorin, of course, founded the University of Notre Dame.

  1. Cauthorn, Henry S. 1892. History of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral. [Indiana]: [publisher not identified]. p.228 []
  2. The Catholic Church in Indiana 1686-1814 by John J. Doyle. 1976, pp. 9, 11 []
  3. Alerding History of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Vincennes p.54 []
  4. Donahoe’s Magazine, Volume-10, 1883-1884 — []