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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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Indiana “Saints”

I’m not a Canon Lawyer and I have never played one on TV… However, to quote the website Crux:

Pope Francis declared a new category of Christian life suitable for consideration of beatification called “offering of life” – in which a person has died prematurely through an offering of their life for love of God and neighbor.

In the apostolic letter, Pope Francis wrote that “They are worthy of special consideration and honor, those Christians who, following in the footsteps and teachings of the Lord Jesus, have voluntarily and freely offered their lives for others and have persevered until death in this regard.

“It is certain that the heroic offering of life, suggested and supported by charity, expresses a true, full and exemplary imitation of Christ, and therefore deserves the admiration that the community of the faithful usually reserves to those who have voluntarily accepted the martyrdom of blood or have exercised in a heroic degree the Christian virtues,” the pope continued.

The document is titled Maiorem Hac Dilectionem, or “greater love than this,” after the verse from the Gospel of John which says: “No one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

I’m sure there are all kinds of additional considerations for this to happen, but as soon as I heard this, I thought of three people immediately. There are even more, but let me consider these three and how their lives, and deaths, seem to fit very well into this category.

The first person is Father Benjamin Marie Petit, a priest of the Diocese of Vincennes who begged and pleaded with Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté to allow him to not only minister to the Potawatomi people in northern Indiana, but to also accompany them on the “Trail of Death”, the long march across Indiana, Illinois and and Missouri into the Kansas Territory. On the Trail of Death website it is written

After placing the Potawatomi in the spiritual hands of Jesuit Father Christian Hoecken. S. J., at the Sugar Creek Mission in Kansas on November 4, 1838, Father Petit again fell sick with fever and painful open sores. On January 2, 1839, he started by horseback back to Indiana, accompanied by Abram “Nan-wesh-mah” Burnett, a full-blood Potawatomi friend who was the same age. Petit again took ill on the journey. With three open sores draining his strength, he rode east from Jefferson City, Missouri, in an open wagon, the roads rough and the rain frequent. He reached the Jesuit seminary at St. Louis University on Jan. 15. The fathers gave him all the medical attention and care they could, but he grew weaker and weaker. Father John A. Elet, then rector – president of St. Louis University, later wrote that he placed a crucifix to Father Petit’s dying lips and twice he kissed it tenderly. He lay in agony and finally expired 20 minutes before midnight, February 10, 1839, a martyr to his duty and his extraordinary devotion and love for his Potawatomi family. He had lived but 27 years and 10 months.

No one can dispute that this was an “offering of life

The second example is that of Father Vincent Bacquelin. Another young French priest who came to Indiana with Bishop Bruté. Here is how he met his end:

It seemed, however, that many of the early missionaries, especially those who seemed to be so zealous, died before their time. While on a sick call on September 2, 1846 in Rush County, Fr. Bacquelin was thrown from his horse against a tree and was killed instantly. He was buried at St. Vincent’s Shelby County.1

Once again… “an offering of life

Last but not least, Father John Plunkett, another one of Bishop Bruté’s recruits. He served the people, particularly the Irish along the canal near Joliet, Illinois.

Traveling through Troy Township, just west of Joliet, back towards Joliet on a stormy 14th of March 1840, Father Plunkett was riding with two other men in escort. Blinded by the storm he hit a low hanging branch. By the time the rear escort had caught up with him he had passed into the Lord’s hands. Between May 5-7, 1844, the first diocesan Synod for the Diocese of Vincennes assembled and there honored Father Plunkett posthumously with a solemn Mass of Requiem.

One more example of “an offering of life“.

The point I am making is that these three men, and I am certain that we could name many more men and women who have offered their lives and given their lives. There aren’t enough resources, human or financial to push any of these “causes” through the system, even if Pope Francis has made it easier. However, it is nice to know that in our mind, at least, these are Indiana Saints and we can call on them for their prayers — not in any official way, but certainly they are listening!

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The Death of Bishop St. Palais

Today, June 28th, is the anniversary of the death of Bishop St. Palais (Jacques-Maurice des Landes d’Aussac De Saint Palais) in 1877.

Bishop St. Palais is overlooked in many ways. Bishop Brute, of course, is remembered as that “saintly” bishop, the man who began the long and proud tradition of the Catholic Church in Indiana. Then Bishop de la Hailadiere, the one who is not held in so high esteem partly because of his relationships with his clergy, with St. Mother Theodore Guerin, and Fr. Sorin. I’ve written before of these things as well as Hailandiere’s qualities. Then there was Bishop Bazin, who began the healing, and who served such a short time.

Then comes St. Palais. Bishop for almost 30 years. He is the one who oversaw and guided the Church in Indiana through the largest growth ever seen up to that point. He is overshadowed in many ways by Bishop Chatard, mainly because Chatard saw the relocation of the See to Indianapolis and the entrance into the 20th century. But, St. Palais was here when the growth first began and when the Church underwent some persecution and began to see a large influx of immigrants. Not only that, he was one of the “early” ones. He came to Indiana in 1836 with Bishop Bruté. He saw the Church in Indiana grow from infancy to adulthood.

Born at LaSalvetat, France, November 15, 1811, he was ordained a priest at Paris on May 28, 1836. Shortly after his ordination he left France with Bishop Bruté, as mentioned above. He served in the village of Chicago and helped the Catholics in that city as they began their rapid growth. He was Administrator of the diocese of Vincennes after the death of Bishop Bazin and was named bishop on October 3, 1848. He was consecrated in the Cathedral at Vincennes on January 14, 1849, by Bishop Pius Miles, OP, of Nashville, assisted by Coadjutor Bishop Martin John Spalding of Louisville and Very Reverend Hippolyte Du Pontavice, vicar general of Vincennes. He died at St. Mary-of-the-Woods. That, I think, tells you something about his support of the Sisters. His body is interred in the Old Cathedral, Vincennes.

Here is an article which appeared in 1916 in the “Catholic World”, the organ of the Paulist Fathers. Louis P. Harl wrote:

Within ten years after the death of Bishop Bruté, the Catholic population of the territory comprising the diocese of Vincennes had grown so rapidly that it had been found necessary in 1844 to separate Illinois from Indiana and create the new see of Chicago. Even with this loss, when Bishop de St. Palais took charge of the diocese of Vincennes it comprised thirty thousand souls, to care for whom there were only thirty-five priests. Quite different was the state of affairs when after forty-one years of fruitful labor, thirteen of which had been spent as a humble missionary priest and twenty-eight as the head of the see, Bishop de St. Palais died in 1877. At that time, despite the fact that the diocese had again been divided and the diocese of Fort Wayne established in the northern part of the State in 1857, there were in the diocese of Vincennes ninety thousand souls, one hundred and fifty-one churches and one hundred and seventeen priests, besides those included in the religious houses of the Franciscans, Benedictines, and the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

St. Palais was the last of the French born bishops in Indiana. More importantly he oversaw tremendous growth as well as the split of the diocese and the establishment of the Diocese of Fort Wayne. He carried on the healing that began under Bishop Bazin after the “problems” that occurred under the leadership of Bishop de la Hailadiere.

You can read an account of his funeral that appeared in the Fort Wayne Sentinel from July 11, 1877 (requires PDF reader). From this reading we can see just how beloved the Bishop was and how one of his most important accomplishements was the establishment of the orphanage at Vincennes.

The photo, below, was taken at the Cathedral of Saint Francis Xavier at St. Palais’ funeral. 1

  1. Courtesy of the Indiana Album and Joan Hostetler – []

The Death of Simon Bruté

June 26th is merely a weekday in “Ordinary Time”, but one day it could be the Feast Day of “Saint Simon Bruté”!

June 26th is the 178th anniversary of the death of Servant of God, Simon Gabriel Bruté de Remur . It was on this day that he breathed his last. After suffering the effects of Tuberculosis, the “Saintly Bishop” (as he was always referred to), died at about 1:30 A.M. The bishop had written a letter on June 18th, knowing that he was going to die soon. This letter was addressed to all the people of his diocese, Catholic or not. He told them that “…in life, or in death, I humbly rejoice before my God.”.

Brute had labored for five short years as bishop. He had seen many of his priests die before their time and now he himself was about to go. Although he was always “French” and loved his native Brittany, he also truly loved the Church in Indiana. He spent almost 20 years in Maryland ministering to Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Sisters of Charity, as well as to the colleges of St. Mary’s, the one in Baltimore, which was the first seminary in the United States and remains open to this day, and Emmitsburg, known as “The Mount”, the second oldest Catholic College in the United States which Bruté referred to as his “beloved mountain”. Yet, he took to this new place, Indiana, as though it had always been his home.

Brute had a great deal of influence on the Church in America and not just in Indiana. Having been a theologian sought out by many bishops, especially the bishops of Baltimore, Brute’s thoughts and words were highly prized. He had an opinion and always a learned opinion, on just about everything having to do with the American Church.

In his last days he was ministered to by Father Jean Vabret, a member of the French, “Society of Eudists” who were asked to run St. Gabriel Seminary at Vincennes. Ironically, there is very little known about Vabret. The Eudists eventually left the diocese and Vabret’s fate is unknown except that he probably died about 1860.

After his death, Elihu Stout, editor of the Vincennes newspaper, the Western Sun, wrote:

The news of his death produced a general and almost unanimous expression of grief amongst our citizens: and well have we cause to lament this even, for to many, very many he was dear; to the one as a friend, to the other as a comforter, to the third as a teacher or literary companion, and to all as a pattern of goodness, morality and pure piety. His character was truly amiable and his manners so conciliating, that whenever he could not make friends, he was sure not to make enemies and we can safely affirm, that he died without the latter.

Perhaps the best tribute to Brute came from a man who arrived in the United States at the same time as Brute, (1810), but who was not ordained until much later, reportedly at the urging of Simon Brute. His name was Antoine (Anthony) Deydier, founder of the Church of the Assumption at Evansville. He himself was a very saintly man and he preached at the 1844 Diocesan Synod. In his sermon he said of Brute:

“Is it not true that when he was with us, we did not feel our weariness? Is it not true that nothing was hard to us; that we scarcely knew we were poor, though really devoid of every necessity of life? …These are men whose labors we have to continue to perpetuate–the models we have for our imitation in life and in death!”

John Gilmary Shea (1824-1892), the 19th century church historian, who has been called the “Father of American Catholic History, wrote in one of his many works, A History of the Catholic Church Within the Limits of the United States about Simon Bruté. He spoke in glowing terms. You can read that chapter of his book here

Brute was buried on June 28, 1839 in the crypt of the (Old) Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes. Since that time, there have continued to be efforts made on Bishop Bruté’s behalf to make his name and his work known. In 2005, Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, retired Archbishop of Indianapolis, began the long and arduous process to seek canonization for Bruté. Archbishop Joseph Tobin has continued that process. There have been schools named in his honor. For many years the Archdiocese ran the Bishop Bruté Latin School. Archbishop Buechlein founded the Bishop Bruté College Seminary for young men, from many dioceses, who are studying for the priesthood. The seminary is affiliated with Marian University in Indianapolis.

One of the themes of this website is… “Keeping the memory alive of those who have gone before us” This applies particularly to Simon Bruté and his work.

Last but not least, please say the prayer for the canonization of Bishop Bruté, which you find to the top left of this article.


A Tale of Two Bishops

This week marks the remembrance of two of the most important figures in Indiana Catholic Church History. The first is, of course, Servant of God, Simon Gabriel Bruté whose ordination anniversary takes place on June 11th. At least that is what I believe.

June 11 (or perhaps June 10th) is an important day in the history of the Catholic Church in Indiana. On this day in 1808 Simon William Gabriel Bruté de Rémur was ordained to the priesthood (or was it June 10th?) There is a debate, albeit among only a few, about the day that Bruté was actually ordained. brute2 It was ‘probably’ June 11th, but some sources say he was ordained on the 10th of June. See the explanation below.

Regardless of what day it was, we celebrate and give thanks to God for Servant of God, Simon Gabriel Bruté, and we continue to pray for his eventual canonization. We invite you to pray the prayer to the left and to pray it often. We also encourage you to make a donation, however big or small to the Archdiocesan fund to further Bishop Bruté’s Cause.

In addition to the date issue, there is also the issue about the place he was ordained. He was ordained in Paris, in the Church of St. Sulpice. Some sources say he was ordained in his hometown of Rennes. That is incorrect.

Here are a few quotes, from various sources, concerning Bruté’s Ordination date:

    The 2014 Archdiocesan Directory — Born in Rennes, France, March 20, 1779. Ordained priest at Rennes, June 11, 1808. Consecrated bishop of Vincennes in the cathedral at St. Louis, MO, October 28, 1834, by Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget of Bardstown, assisted by Bishop Joseph Rosati of St. Louis and Bishop John Baptist Purcell of Cincinnati.

    Father Robert Gorman’s History of the Catholic Church in Indiana — At the age of twenty nine he was ordained June 10, 1808 and shortly after was received into the Society of St. Su1pice.

    Father Albert Ledoux, in his 2005 dissertation, The Life and Thought of Simon Bruté, Seminary Professor and Frontier Bishop said: “If one includes the time that Brute spent taking preliminary theology courses prior to his formal entry into the seminary, his formation lasted five years. …While Bayley did not know the date of Brute’s deacon ordination, we can surmise that it took place half way between his subdiaconate and his priestly ordination, which occurred in Paris on 11 June 1808

    WikiPedia — He was ordained a priest on June 11, 1808,

    New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia — Ordained priest on the 11th of June, 1808,

    Catholic — Ordained June 11, 1808

    Sr. Mary Salesia Godecker, in her biography of Bishop Bruté — Brute’ was ordained on June 10, 1808 at the church of St. Sulpice in Paris. He was ordained by the Right Reverend Andre’, the retired Bishop of Quimper. His first Mass was celebrated at the altar of the Blessed Virgin in the Seminary of St. Sulpice on Trinity Sunday, June 11, 1808.

    Alerding’s History of the Diocese of Vincennes — he was ordained Priest in the parish church of St. Sulpice by Msgr. Andre, the retired Bishop of Quimper, on the Saturday before Trinity Sunday, 1808.

    Brute’s “Memoirs” by Archbishop Bayley say that he was ordained on the Saturday before Trinity Sunday in 1808. That would mean JUNE 11th, according to a perpetual calendar and almanac, Trinity Sunday, in 1808, was 12 June.

    Manuscripts located in the Indianapolis Archdiocesan Archives, which appear to have been written by Brute say “Ordained Priest on the 10th of June 1808″.

    Father Vincent Eaton, former archivist of the Society of St. Sulpice, of which Bruté was once a member says, in a 1983 document, that Bruté was ordained on June 10, 1808.

    The “Biographical Cyclopedia of the Catholic Hierarchy of the United States 1784- 1898 — A Book for Reference in the Matter of Dates, Places and Persons, in the Records of our Bishops, Abbots and Monsignori by Francis X. Reuss [Milwaukee, Wis : M. H. Wiltzius & Co, Publishers. 1898] says June 11, 1808.

Regardless of when and where the Saintly Bishop was ordained, please say the prayer for the canonization of Bishop Bruté, which you find to the left of this article.

The second important even of this week is the anniversary of the death of Cardinal Joseph Elmer Ritter.

On June 10, 1967, Cardinal Joseph Elmer Ritter died in Saint Louis. The Archdiocesan Directory gives a brief description of his Church life:

Born in New Albany, IN, July 20, 1892. Ordained priest at Saint Meinrad, May 30, 1917. Named rector of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul,Indianapolis, in 1924. Appointed titular bishop of Hippo and auxiliary to the bishop of Indianapolis, February 3, 1933. Consecrated in the cathedral at Indianapolis, March 28, 1933, by Bishop Chartrand, assisted by Bishop Emmanuel Ledvina of Corpus Christi and Bishop Alphonse J. Smith of Nashville. Made vicar general of the Diocese of Indianapolis, February 5, 1933. Bishop of Indianapolis, March 24, 1934. Installed as first archbishop of Indianapolis, December 19, 1944, by Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, apostolic delegate to the United States. Transferred to St. Louis by virtue of apostolic letters dated July 20, 1946. Formally installed in the Cathedral of St. Louis, October 8, 1946. Proclaimed and created a cardinal by Pope John XXIII on January 16, 1961. Died at St. Louis, June 10, 1967. Buried in Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis, MO.

Here are two clippings from the Terre Haute Tribune, June 10, 1967:


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 []