Site menu:




Recent Posts


Prayer for the Cause of Bishop Brute

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.)

Christmas 1834

As we celebrate Christmas this day, we remember the early Church in Indiana. Times were a lot tougher and so were the conditions back then. On Christmas, 1834, Simon Brute and Simon Lalumiere were the only two priests that officially belonged to the new Diocese of Vincennes.

Here is an excerpt from the book, After Holy Cross, Only Notre Dame: The Life of Brother Gatian by Br. George Klawitter, C.S.C.

The diocese of Vincennes was formed in 1834, and although Brute led the fledgling diocese for only five years, his visits to France resulted in bringing many strong clerics to Indiana, including Hailandiere, Benjamin Petit, St. Palais, and Michael Shawe. The last was actually British but was a student at St. Sulpice when Brute visited Paris.
When he was consecrated bishop, Brute found the only priest officially under him at Christmas, 1834, was Simon Lalumiere, who had been raised in Vincennes and worked the missions in the adjacent Daviess County. Four other priests were on loan from other dioceses, including Stephen Badin and Louis Deseille at work in the northern fringes of the diocese. During his first month as bishop, a single communicant was ministered to in Vincennes. But within six months, communions had jumped to sixty. Brute’s income for the first year was three hundred dollars, mostly in the form of grain and vegetables. When he visited the total diocese his first year on horseback, he found but 25,000 Catholics among 400,000 inhabitants. Four years later he guessed the number of Catholics had doubled. The diocese included all of Indiana and a third of Illinois. In 1843 Chicago and all of Illinois was taken from the Vincennes diocese, and by 1850 Indiana Catholics numbered 50,000. In 1834 there were but two priests for the entire territory, but with aggressive recruiting in France, Brute and his followers increased the number to twenty-two by 1838, thirty-five by 1849, and one hundred and twenty-seven by the time of Bishop St. Palais’ death in 1877. 1

And so, we remember, once again, the heroic sacrifices of those early missionaries, including both the men and the women, professed and secular, who carried the faith to the wilderness that was then Indiana.

Merry Christmas!!

  1. After Holy Cross, Only Notre Dame: The Life of Brother Gatian by Br. George Klawitter, C.S.C. New York: iUniverse, Inc. 2003. []

Faithful Departed

The title of this post may be misleading, since we’re not talking about our beloved dead, but rather, those who, in the early days of the Diocese of Vincennes (Indianapolis) found it necessary to leave the diocese because they could no longer tolerate the conditions that they were placed under. In the early days of the Church in Indiana, and in the United States in general, priests were much less tied to a particular diocese. If they chose to, they sometimes moved on to greener pastures — in other words, better conditions and a more appreciative bishop.

In the days of Bishop Brute, the Diocese of Vincennes was on the “receiving” end of things. Priests weren’t leaving, except for those that were “on loan” — Fr. St. Cyr in Chicago and Fr. Ferneding in New Alsace for instance. It was easy to change from one diocese to another and during the episcopate of Bishop Celestine de la Hailandiere many did just that.

Here are a few of those losses…

1) Father (later Bishop) Augustin Martin. He was the chaplain at the Royal College in Rennes when Bishop Hailandiere recruited him and a group of others from Brittany to come to Indiana. The party was to sail in August of 1839. Just before they set out, news was received concerning the death of Bishop Simon Brute. Hailandiere decided to stay in France where he was later consecrated as the second Bishop of Vincennes. Fr. Martin, in the meantime, led his band to Indiana. He served as pastor at Logansport and had close ties to Saint Mother Theodore Geurin. During the upheaval between Bishop Hailandiere and the Sisters of Providence, their chaplain, Father John Corbe was determined to leave Indiana if the Sisters left. Fr. Corbe confided in Father Martin about leaving, but fortunately it never happened for Fr. Corbe and the Sisters. Fr. Martin himself had decided to leave the diocese which he did in March of 1846. After Bishop Hailandiere resigned and Bishop Bazin had been named, Martin contemplated a return to Indiana, but he chose to stay in Louisiana and eventually he was named the first Bishop of Natchitoches. 1 2

2) Michael Shawe. He was one of Bishop Brute’s 1836 band that came over from France, although Shawe was an Englishman. He founded the parishes in Madison Indiana and served on the faculty at St. Gabriel Seminary in Vincennes. Like so many others he had run-ins with Bishop Hailandiere. He wrote to Fr. Sorin, who had promised him a spot on the faculty at Notre Dame. Like Fr Sorin, Shawe probably believed that being in South Bend would put him at a healthy distance from the good bishop. He served at Notre Dame and then took up an invitation to come to Detorit where he served as pastor of the Cathedral. He was killed when he was thrown from his carriage in 1853. Shawe is buried in Detroit, in Mount Elliott Cemetery. Unfortunately his body was never brought back to Indiana where his ministry began.

3)John Corbe — Father Corbe never actually left the Diocese of Vincennes, although he came close, as was already mentioned. His destiny was tied to the Sisters of Providence whom he served as chaplain. He kept in close contact with Fr. Martin, who was Vicar General at the time, regarding Bishop Hailandiere’s issues with the Sisters of Providence. You can read about Fr. Corbe in just about any history of the Sisters and Saint Mother Theodora.

4) Julian Delaune — A priest who was, at first, beleived to have come from France with the large contingent in 1836, but in fact he arrived about 1839. According to Father Gorman’s history:

Apparently, also Julian Delaune joined the diocese during Lalumiere’s administration. Born in Paris in 1809, Delaune was a scholarly individual – “A pious, active, zealous, devoted and charitable priest, a man of much energy of character and earnestness of purpose” acording to Fr. Alerding’s History3 According to one authority he was one of the clerics “who came with Brute to the United States in 1836” (JL 75) and he may have become an intimate personal friend of John Timon, the Visitor of the Lazarists, in the west before coming to Vincennes (Cauthorn 1(8). But it is more probable that he came directly from France about the time that a new Eudist colony arrived. 4 Fr. Delaune served in many places, notably Madison where he asked for and received help from the Sisters of Providence. He also aligned himself with Fr. Sorin (which most certainly did not please Bishop Hailandiere). Delaune left the diocese to become president of St. Mary’s College in the Diocese of Bardstown. Whether he recived permission to do so is unclear. He evnetually went to the Diocese of Buffalo, New York, which was led by Bishop Timon, his close personal friend. Eventually he returned to France where he died in 1849.

5) Stanislaus Buteux — Another Frenchman who came to the United States with Bishop Brute in 1836.

Stanislaus caught the eye of Bishop Simon Gabriel Bruté, a Sulpician, who had recently been installed as the first bishop of the new diocese of Vincennes, Indiana. A missionary himself, Bishop Bruté recruited Stanislaus for his new diocese. He ordained Father Stanislaus on May 28, 1836, and on the next day, Father Stanislaus offered his first Mass and said goodbye to his family in Paris as he set out with his new bishop for the Vincennes Diocese as a missionary. Buteux was a member of the Eudists, a number of whom accompanied Bishop Brute to Indiana in 1836.

Bishop Bruté put young Father Stanislaus in charge of Catholics in Edgar County, IL, and Vigo County, IN. From 1837 to 1839, Father Stanislaus worked untiringly in the mission field as a circuit-riding preacher, ministering mainly to the German and Irish Catholic immigrants in the area around Terre Haute. He celebrated Mass and offered the sacraments in their homes until he was able to organize the people to build churches. In 1839, for example, he built St. Joseph’s brick church in Terre Haute and a frame church at Thralls Station, five miles from Terre Haute. That church was named Ste. Marie des Bois, well known today as St. Mary of the Woods. Father Stanislaus recruited the Sisters of Providence to come from France to teach school there. On October 22, 1840, he personally met six emigrant missionary nuns as they completed a 102-day journey from northern France by merchant ship, rail, steamboat, stagecoach, and wagon. He escorted Sister Theodore Guerin and her five companions by ferry across the Wabash River and then by wagon to a remote 27-acre wooded chapel site. He then helped them establish St. Mary of the Woods College, the nation’s oldest Catholic women’s liberal arts college. Father Stanislaus worked as a day laborer to help the sisters build their first academy, and in July 1841, he blessed the school. As a missionary priest, he well knew that education was the key to any lasting work of evangelization, and he had quickly learned the value of a good Catholic school for that purpose.

Father Buteux served as the sisters’ chaplain for four years, inspiring all of them by his courage, his simplicity of life, and his apostolic zeal. Mother Theodore Guerin, whom Pope John Paul II beatified in 2006, (correction: Pope Benedict XVI Canonized her in 2006) was the first superior of the Sisters of Providence at St. Mary of the Woods College in the Vincennes Diocese of Indiana, the sisters’ first establishment in America. This educational missionary who answered Father Buteux’s call praised him as follows:

“This zealous priest lives in a little hut which is only ten feet wide and twelve feet long. The furniture consists of the altar and a miserable pallet at the opposite side of the room; two small tables, one covered with books, the other used as a writing desk; a trunk, and an old chair. In these environments has this Parisian dwelt for four years—he who was brought up in the comfort of the most opulent city of Europe; where, now in the flower of his manhood and with his brilliant education, he might be one of the most prominent in ecclesiastical circles. The Archbishop of Paris made him the most advantageous offers to retain him there; but he refused everything to come and work and suffer for his God, and to gain souls for His heavenly kingdom. This truly apostolic man told me laughing that he had yet to learn where the trials and privations are.” 5

Buteux sought to be excused from the diocese of Bishop Hailandiere refused. He eventually relented and in 1845 he left the Diocese of Vincennes and returned to France. In 1847 he returned to the United States, but this time in the Diocese of Natchez, Mississippi. In 1859 he once again left the U.S. and returned to France. After another couple of years he returned to the U.S. in the Diocese of Boston, It was there that Father Stanislaus Buteux died on June 14, 1875, at the age of 66 years, 11 months.6

In many of these cases the reason given for the departure of these priests was sickness. That may or may not have been true, but if it was true, that sickness was perhaps brought on by the tyranny of Bishop Hailandiere. I don’t want to condemn Bishop Hailandiere. I have previously mentioned his love for the Church in Indiana, but he should never have been made Bishop of Vincennes. In 1933, Lawrence Gonner wrote in his Master’s Thesis:

“The difficulties between Mother Theodore and Bishop Hailandiere (and the clergy) is one of those unpleasant chapters in American Church history, which if completely revealed might disedify the faithful Who are not aware of the controversies that arose among the clergy in early days. …Many of the clergy likewise found it difficult to cooperate with Bishop Hailandiere. Father Martin, Father Delaune. and others left the diocese; Father Sorin of Notre Dame opened a novitiate for his Brothers in Kentucky. Even Father Corbe contemplated returning to France, and Father Chasse journeyed to Rome in the interest of the Eudist College at Vincennes, whose Superior had been exiled on short notice. The difficulties of Bishop Hailandiere may be attributed to the fact that he strove to dominate rather than to rule. Bishop Alerding says: “He attended to everything personally, and though he had a Vicar-general near him, a Superior of his Seminary, a Superior over the Community at St. Mary’s, a rector for his Cathedral, he hardly allowed them to do anything.” 7

In the final analysis, Father Robert Gorman, former archivist of the Archdiocese wrote:

It is difficult to assess the harm or profit which came to the diocese because of Hailandiere and, because of innumerable factors and circumstances, it is impossible to speculate what its history would have been, if a more tactctful or prudent prelate would have succeeded Brute. The first bishop was aware of Hailandiere’s definciencies but found himself helpless in securing another choice and somethinh of the same kind of fatality seems to have cursed the actions of his successor. From the standpoint of the present day, it is possible to view with a more tolerant mind some of the things that must have seemed harsh to contemporaries. For example, the Notre tame of today would hardly have been a possibility if Sorin had remained at St. Peter’s and, considering the rocky course of other later boys colleges in southern Indiana, the Eudists would probably have failed eventually. Though it was long before the clerics of the diocese could match the brilliance of Shawe, Martin or Delaune, it was normally to be expected that some priests should leave. Much was accomplished during his time in the ‘way of construction and organization of the diocese was far different in 1847 than it was in 1839 but this accomplishment was made at a tremondous cost and the story is not a pretty one. Perhaps the chief regret is that of lost opportunity and, considering his personel deficiencies, it can hardly be gainsaid that it was the good fortune of the diocese that Hailandiere finally relinquished his charge and returned to the limbo of Combourg. 8

  1. []
  2. []
  3. Herman J. Alerding — A History of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Vincennes, p.353″ []
  4. Fr. Robert Gorman – A History of the Catholic Church in Indiana – unpublished []
  5. Life of Mother Theodore Guerin, 1904, p 141-142 []
  6. []
  7. Gonner, Lawrence, “A History of the First Fifty Years of the Sisters of Providence in the United States” (1933). Master’s Theses. Paper 193. — pp.30-31 []
  8. Fr. Robert Gorman – A History of the Catholic Church in Indiana – unpublished []

Death of Bishop Chartrand

On this Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1933, Joseph Chartrand, the sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis, died in Indianapolis. He was only 63 years of age. Bishop Chartrand had a very high regard for education and the Blessed Sacrament. In this press release from the NCCW in Washington, Bishop Chartrand was highly praised.1 He was born in Saint Louis, studied at St. Meinrad and joined the Diocese of Vincennes. He was noticed by Bishop Chatard and moved through the ranks of the clergy and eventually succeeded Chatard as Bishop of Indianapolis. He was a very complex individual. While Bishop of Indianapolis he was named Archbishop of Cincinnati, but he declined it, choosing to remain in Indianapolis. There has been a lot of speculation as to ‘why’, but no one seems to know for sure. The best explanation came from the late Msgr. John Doyle, former archivist of the Archdiocese, who said it was because of his love for Indianapolis and because of the financial situation of the diocese. Chatard wanted to clear the financial situation up and was apparently embarrassed by it. This was during the time of the Great Depression in the United States.

  1. NCWC News Service – National Catholic Welfare Conference, December 9, 1933 []

Bishop Hailandiere returns to Vincennes

Here are some interesting news articles from 1882 concerning the return of the body of Celestine Guynemer de la Hailandiere, that is, Bishop de la Hailandiere, the second Bishop of Vincennes, to the United States following his death on May 1, 1882.

The Bishop had always wanted to be buried in Vincennes. After his resignation in 1847 amid much controversy, he returned to his native France where he remained for the next 35 years. Obviously much had changed in this country and certainly in the Diocese of Vincennes. Two bishops had come and gone (Bazin and St. Palais), and the third, Bishop Chatard had moved to Indianapolis.

Bishop St. Palais had overseen the largest growth in the Church in Indiana as well as the further division of the Diocese to include the new Diocese of Fort Wayne.

The November 17th edition of the New York Times had a small article about the arrival of Hailandi?re’s body in New York. His nephew, Rev. Ernest Audran, who was ordained by Bishop Hailandiere, accompanied the body from New York to Vincennes.

In another article from Morning Review, Decatur, IL on Nov 20th, 1882 Bishop Chatard enters the picture, although he was not present at any of the ceremonies honoring Bishop Hailandiere.

Indiana has been blessed with the canonization of Mother Theodore Guérin, (and now the possibility of our beloved Bishop Bruté someday being canonized), however, that recognition for Mother Theodore’s example of holiness brought some national attention to the journey that Mother Theodore took to become Indiana’s first saint. Specifically the relationship between Mother Theodore and then Bishop of Vincennes, Celestine de la Hailandiere.

I’ve written here, numerous times, that all the bad things that are reported to have happened between Mother Theodore, the Sisters of Providence and Bishop Hailandiere did happen. There is no denying that, but modern pundits have put a spin on it which, I do not believe ever existed. It seems that everyone looks at the situation as it existed and comes to the conclusion that Hailaindere was this evil sexist individual who wanted nothing more than to destroy Mother Theodore. He’s even been called mentally unstable.

I believe that the bishop was simply what we now call a control freak, a micromanager. Yet, this is the same man who gave up everything and came to America to serve the Church in the Indiana wilderness just like Mother Theodore did. Her perseverance, in the face of opposition, not only from Bishop Hailandiere, but also many others, is part of what made her a true saint. My purpose is to give Bishop Hailandiere some credit for the sacrifices he made and for his love of the Church in Indiana. He may not have been a saint, but he certainly gave much to the cause of the Catholic Church in Indiana.

When he died in May of 1882 he could have instructed that his body be buried in France, his birthplace, but he did not. Instead he asked to be buried in Vincennes. On November 17, 1882 Hailandiere’s body arrived back in the United States after after a 35 year self imposed exile. He was interred in the Old Cathedral, Vincennes, on November 22, 1882. This wish to be returned to Vincennes, says something, I think, about his character and his love for the Church in Indiana.


November 5, 1834

On this day in 1834, at 5:00 P.M., newly consecrated Bishop Simon Gabriel Bruté took possession of his Cathedral in Vincennes. He celebrated pontifically for the first time on the following Sunday, November 9, 1834.1 This was the end of a long journey to Saint Louis, and the pomp of the consecration of a Bishop, and then the long ride to Vincennes on horseback to take possession of his Cathedral and his new Diocese.

Servant of God
Simon Bruté

When Bruté was nominated as bishop, many thought that he was too scholastic, unprepared for the rigors of life in the wilderness of Indiana. Of course, Bruté proved everyone wrong and in the short five years that he was Bishop of Vincennes, he made great strides in promoting Catholicism on the ‘frontier’. For all those reasons he is no longer known only as Bishop Bruté, but as Servant of God Simon Bruté

In Charles Blanchard’s History of the Catholic Church In Indiana (Vol-1) he writes of Bruté’s arrival in Vincennes:

As if impatient to begin his labors in his new diocese, Bishop Brute, in company with Bishops Flaget and Purcell, left St. Louis the following Monday after his consecration, November 3, and journeyed on horseback to his future home, arriving at Vincennes November 5, 1834. Mr. Cauthorn, in his history of St. Francis Xavier’s cathedral, says that the coming of their new bishop had become known to many of the citizens of Vincennes, and a large number of people of all denominations crossed the Wabash river to meet the approaching prelates and escort them into the town.

The installation of the new bishop took place in the cathedral that evening, and the sermon was preached by Bishop Purcell to a congregation which completely filled the sacred edifice. The remainder of the week, continues Mr. Cauthorn, was devoted to religious exercises in the church. Many clergymen from a distance were in attendance, including Fathers Abel, Hitzelberger and Petit, who were all able, learned and eloquent men. Two services were held each day in the church, one at ten o’clock in the morning, and another at six o’clock in the evening, at which sermons were preached in French and English. On Sunday, at ten o’clock. Bishop Brute for the first time officiated pontifically in his cathedral, and Bishop Flaget addressed a large congregation in French. Vesper services were held at 6 o’clock in the evening, and Bishop Purcell delivered a sermon in English. Almost the entire population of the town attended all these services.

On the following Monday the visiting prelates and clergymen left for their respective homes, and Bishop Brute found himself literally alone in his wild and thinly settled diocese. And it was from this moment on, during the time he was bishop of the diocese, that he gave evidence of and developed, contrary to all expectations based on human reasoning, the wisdom and peculiar fitness of his selection as bishop of the new diocese.

When Bishop Brute came to Vincennes in 1834, it was a very small and poorly built town. The cathedral was situated in the most populous part; but there was not (excepting the cathedral and the small pastoral residence) a single brick dwelling in all that part of the town. The houses were mostly built of logs and plastered over with adobe, of a uniform size and appearance, being only one story’ high, with a small porch in front, and generally whitewashed. He had in all his extensive diocese but three priests, and two of these were stationed at a distance of not less than 200 miles from him, and the third, Rev. Lalumiere, who was the first priest ordained specially for the diocese, was stationed some thirty miles distant. The cathedral was wholly unfinished, being no more than the four bare walls, unplastered, and the eight large square timbers supporting the roof were entirely bare, with no sanctuary or any kind of ornamentation. It presented a very desolate appearance. The entire revenues of the church did not amount to over $300 per annum, and the most of this was paid in produce. The $200 donated him by the Sisters of Charity, when he was appointed bishop, had been necessarily spent in his travels before he reached his diocese; and the revenues at his command were nothing compared with the needs and demands of the diocese. The outlook, it must be admitted, was anything but encouraging, and sufficient to dampen the zeal of any ordinary man. But Bishop Brute, student and recluse as he had previously been all his life, did not repine, but at once commenced to perform the work that had been assigned him.2

  1. Cauthorn – History of the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier, p. 228 []
  2. History of the Catholic Church in Indiana – In Two Volumes. Volume 1. Illustrated Edited and Compiled by Col. Charles Blanchard. Logansport, Indiana, A.W. Bowen and Company. 1898. []