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Archangel Valley

There have always been parishes in what is now the “Archdiocese of Indianapolis” named after saints who were, for lack of a better term, “spiritual beings”. In other words, “angels”. Some unnamed, as in Holy Angels and others after the only three named angels, or archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

We all know who Michael is, and of course, the angel, Gabriel, but who is Raphael? Raphael is only mentioned in the Book of Tobit, whereas Michael and Gabriel are mentioned in the New Testament. We don’t hear much about Raphael.

Well, just like the angels themselves, when it comes to Indiana Catholic History, we hear a lot about Michael and Gabriel, but not so much of Raphael. In the present Archdiocese there are six parishes dedicated to the Archangel Michael (Brookville, Cannelton. Charlestown, Greenfield, Greenville (Bradford) and Indianapolis) and two parishes dedicated to the Archangel Gabriel, (Indianapolis and Connersville).

The two oldest “angel” parishes are St. Michael in Brookville and St. Gabriel in Connersville. 1 Both of these parishes are located in the area that was known as “Archangel Valley”. Taking this further, “Archangel Valley” not only included Michael and Gabriel, but at one time, there was also a Saint Raphael parish, located in the little town of Laurel, in Franklin County. According to Wikepedia:

Laurel was platted in 1836 by James Conwell, a native of Maryland. Conwell had first intended to name his settlement New Baltimore, but instead decided to call it Laurel, after the city of Laurel, Maryland. The Laurel post office was established in 1837.

Father Herman Alerding, in his book “History of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Vincennes” wrote:

Some Irish Catholic families, Butler, ‘Murphy, Early and Londergan, settled at Laurel in 1848 or 1849, when the Whitewater canal was being constructed. Up to 1858, they were attended from Shelbyville about four times a year. From 1858 to 1860 the Rev. W. Doyle visited them from Connersville. From 1860 until October, 1874, the Rev. Henry Peters, residing at Connersville, visited Laurel once a month. In 1869, a lot of about two acres was bought, and a frame church, 40 by 30 feet, built on it, costing about $1,500. Mass, up to this time, had been celebrated in the house of William Early. Edward Zachariah was a prime mover in the erection of the church_ From October, 1874, the Rev. Joseph Fleischmann. residing
at Brookville, has had charge of Laurel. 2

Father Robert Gorman, in his unpublished history wrote:

Scarcely had Peters completed the church in Rushville when he began work on a church in Laurel, one of his stations where
Mass had up to this date been celebrated in private homes, chiefly in that of William Early. Laurel was an old canal town which, at this date, gave promise of developing into a prominent manufacturing center, In the pursuit of his project Peters was aided and influenced principally by Edward Zacharias. In 1868 he himself made a tour in a number of the Whitewater parishes – Oldenburg, Connersville, Rushville, St. Joseph, St. Peter, St. Mary-of-the-Rocks and Brookville – in which
he collected $377.00. The following year, 1869, he purchased two acres of ground in Laurel and erected a fine little frame church, 40′ x 30′ at the cost of $1,500. For this [Bishop] St. Pa1ais gave his sanction probably during his visit to Connersville in August, 1869. Laurel, however, failed to fulfill its promise of becoming an important industrial town. It suffered from disastrous fires in 1872 and 1886 which destroyed most of its industries and these were never rebuilt. It never
received a resident pastor and Peters attended it as a mission until his death. 3 4

Although the parish and the church itself are now gone, the St. Raphael Cemetery remains. There are now a number of sites that include the names on the graves in St. Raphael Cemetery.


  1. St. Michael in Madison was older, but is not defunct as a parish. The others are:
    St. Gabriel the Archangel, Indianapolis
    St. Michael, Brookville
    St. Michael, Cannelton
    St. Michael, Charlestown
    St. Michael, Greenfield
    St. Michael, Greenville
    St. Michael the Archangel, Indianapolis[]
  2. Alerding-p.395[]
  3. Henry Peters died on September 24, 1871[]
  4. Fr. Robert Gorman, Unpublished history of the Catholic Church in Indiana, p.1212-1213[]

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