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St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Miscellany

Today is the feast of All Saints… Happy Feast Day!!!

There are a few items on the calendar which involve the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes.

First, this month marks the 245th (yes!! 245 years) anniversary of an item that I have not found too many references to. It was in November of 1763, the same year that the British and French ended the French-Indian wars, that the kidnapping, in the nighttime, of Fr. Julien Devernier, (Devernai), then pastor of St. Francis Xavier, Vincennes, by an armed force from Louisiana. The church property and all records were carried off to New Orleans. [Cauthorn p. 228]. This was, apparently, connected with the suppression of the Jesuits in Louisiana. Jacob Piatt Dunn, in his book, “Indiana and Indianans” wrote:

The Jesuits who served at Vincennes after Father Meurin were Father Peter du Jaunay in 1752, Father Louis Vivier in 1753, and Father Julian Devernai in 1756. After the suppression of the Jesuits in France, on June 9, 1763, the Superior Council of Louisiana issued a decree suppressing the Jesuits of the Province, forbidding their performance of religious functions, ordering all their property except the personal clothing and books of the priests to be seized and sold at auction, and the priests themselves to be expelled from the Province. This was a high-handed proceeding as to the country north of the Ohio, which had been ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Paris on February 10, 1763, but the British had not taken possession, and the order was enforced to the letter. Father Devernai was dispossessed at Vincennes and shipped down the river with the Illinois Jesuits. All of the mission property was sold at auction.

[Indiana and Indianans: A History of Aboriginal and Territorial Indiana and the Century of Statehood By Jacob Piatt Dunn, George William Harrison Kemper Published by The American historical society, 1919 p.132]

The second item involving the “Old Cathedral” involves the building of the first church on the present site in 1702. This also comes from Henry Cauthorn’s book, the “History of the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier”. However, there isn’t much in the way of proof that this actually happened since the earliest parish records “only” go back to about 1749.

The last item with regard to the “Old Cathedral” has to do with Servant of God, Simon Brute who, on November 5, 1834, at 5:00 P.M. took possession of the Cathedral of Vincennes as the new bishop of the new diocese. He celebrated pontifically for the first time on the following Sunday, November 9, 1834. [Cauthorn p. 228]. Brute had just recently been consecrated as the new Bishop of Vincennes in St. Louis, on October 28, 1834.


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