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August Bessonies

August Bessonies Today is the 105th anniversary of the death of Msgr August Bessoinies. He was a true pioneer priest in the Diocese of Vincennes. Here is an excerpt from “Reminiscences of a Pioneer Priest in the Diocese of Vincennes” which appeard in Blanchard’s “The History of the Catholic Church in Indiana”. It was transcribed by Ann Mensch.

RT. REV. AUGUST BESSONIES, V. G., of the diocese of Vincennes, was born at Alzac, department du Lot, France, on June 17, 1815. His first studies were at the Petit seminary of Montfaucon; thence he went to the seminary of Isse, near Paris, to study the classics and natural philosophy. While there Bishop Brute, first bishop of Vincennes, paid a visit to Isse, and although August Bessonies had already been received by the Lazarists for the foreign missions, by the advice of the celebrated Father Pinault, his directory, he offered his services to Right Rev. Bishop Brute for his diocese of Vincennes. The saintly prelate was pleased, and, stretching his arms around his neck, said : “I am happy at the project of seeing a new altar raised in my dear Indiana. But,” said he, “I have no seminary at Vincennes; stay at St. Sulpice for three years, until 1839, and then I will send for you.” So he did, and August Bessonies was at Havre, ready to embark in a sailing vessel, when he received the sad news of the good bishop’s death. He arrived at Vincennes October 21, 1839. He was then a deacon, too young to be ordained, but on the 22d day of February, 1840, Bishop de la Hailandiere, successor of Bishop Brute, ordained him a priest, and sent him to the forests of Perry county, although he had expressed a desire to be sent among the Indians near the town of Logansport. He spent twelve years in his first mission in Perry county, founded the town of Leopold, of which he became postmaster under James K. Polk, and built seven churches; two of stone–one at Cannelton and one at Derby–the others of log. The Right Rev. Mgr. August Bessonies, V. G. died at Indianapolis, on February 22, 1901.

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