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Archdiocese Created

On this day, in 1944, the papal decree of Pope Pius XII was solemnly proclaimed in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, elevating Indianapolis to the status of an archdiocese, the state of Indiana becoming the metropolitan see. The decree itself was issued October 21, 1944, but on this day in 1944, by executorial decree of the papal delegate, the Most Reverend Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, apostolic delegate to the United States, the decree became effective.

The dioceses of Evansville and Lafayette-in-Indiana were created by the same decree and, along with the Diocese of Fort Wayne, made suffragan sees of Indianapolis. Upon establishment of the Diocese of Gary on February 25, 1957, it too became a suffragan see.

Interesting enough, the whole process took place, mainly through the urging of Archbishop Timothy McNicholas, who was, at the time, the Archbishop of Cincinnati. Nineteen years previously he had been named Bishop of Indianapolis and Bishop Joseph Chartrand was named Archbishop of Cincinnati. For reasons known only to those involved, the two men were allowed to switch and Chartrand was re-appointed to Indianapolis and McNicholas went to Cincinnati. If this switch had not happened, I wonder if the establishment of Indianapolis as an Archdiocese would have ever happened?

It is known that McNicholas was the one who urged the break up of the Cincinnati province. He wanted to make sure that there was a “rural” diocese included in the new Indianapolis province. He suggested the southeastern part of the State, with Richmond or New Albany as the see city, but that suggestion obviously did not pan out. It was also suggested that St. Meinrad Abbey and Vincennes should remain as part of Indianapolis. The first part happened with one township of Harrison County remaining within the boundaries of Indianapolis. Vincennes, however, became a part of the new Diocese of Evansville.

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