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Simon Brute anniversaries

This month marks two significant events in the life of Servant of God, Simon Brute. First, on March 7, 1835, Simon Brute officially became a citizen of the United States. Writing in his 2005 dissertation, Rev. Albert Ledoux, said:

“Brute formally embraced United States nationality almost a quarter century after first stepping foot onto a Baltimore pier. He appeared in Vincennes’ Knox County Circuit Court, 7 March 1835 and forevermore renounced ‘all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty whatsoever, but particularly to Louis Philip, King of France.’ Whatever antipathy he may have still felt toward the Orleanist monarch who had deposed the elder branch of his beloved Bourbons, Brute was far more likely motivated by considerations of United States civil law that in many states impeded a non-citizen’s right to hold substantial amounts of property. In fact, within two years, when worrying about the identity of his potential successor as bishop of Vincennes, one of Brutés chief concerns lay in the fact that none of his principal candidates had been naturalized or had even made the first attempt at doing so.”1

March 20th marks the 232nd anniversary of the birth of the Right Rev. Simon Guillaume Gabriel Brute de Remur, known to us as Servant of God Simon Brute.
He was born in Rennes, France, March 20, 1779. Brute lived through the French Revolution and all that it meant to the Church. Michael Pasquier, in his book, “Fathers on the Frontier — French Missionaries and the Roman Catholic Priesthood in the United States, 1789-1870” quotes Bishop Brute from his memoirs:2

“As I gather up my scattered remembrances,” Simon Guillaume Gabriel Brute de Remur wrote in 1818 from Maryland, “the whole comes back to me very vividly, and I may be said to feel as I did then.” Brute-member of the Order of St. Sulpice and future bishop of the Diocese of Vincennes, Indiana-was referring to his memories and feelings associated with the French Revolution, an event that began in 1789 when he was a ten-year-old boy growing up in Rennes. Almost thirty years later, Brute recalled the “profane and systematic attempts to root out the Christian Religion from the hearts of the people and make them infidels.” The persecution of the French clergy played an important part in Brutés account of the French Revolution, as well as his attempt to lionize those priests who died or went into exile because of their refusal to abide by the articles contained in the 1790 Civil Constitution of the Clergy. …And he remembered “how sad, how desolate everything seemed without that living presence” of a priest able to administer the sacraments and celebrate mass on a regular basis. In sum, Brute thanked God for an end to the days when insult and derision of the Clergy and the ancient faith of the French nation” threatened to destroy the very fabric of Western civilization. 3

Ironically, this was, in a small sense, going to repeat itself in Indiana, at least the part about the clergy being present.

  1. Fr. Albert Ledoux, “The Life and Thought of Simon Brute Seminary Professor and Frontier Bishop” (PhD dissertation, Catholic University of America, 2005), 392. []
  2. Memoirs of the Right Reverend Simon Wm. Gabriel Brute D.D., First Bishop of Vincennes, ed. James Roosevelt Bayley (New York: D&J Sadlier & Co., 1861) []
  3. Fathers on the frontier : French missionaries and the Roman Catholic priesthood in the United States, 1789-1870 (New York : Oxford University Press, 2010) p.23-24 []