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Bishop Brute Consecrated 1834

Today, October 28th is the feast of Sts. Simon and Jude. It was on this date the Simon Gabriel Brute was consecrated in St. Louis, as the First Bishop of Vincennes. The year was 1834. The “new” cathedral in Saint Louis had just been completed and it was Brutés wish as well as the other bishops, that he be consecrated in that place on this day. Writing at the time, Brute said:

“…Bishop Flaget had returned from Cincinnati, and I set out with him for Louisville, where Bishop Purcell joined us. Crossing the Ohio, we proceeded directly to St. Louis, across the vast prairies of Illinois, and passing through the town of Vincennes, half incognito. It was a source of great happiness and consolation to me to pass so many days in the company of these holy Bishops, and to meet that most excellent Prelate, Dr. Rosati, of St. Louis. On the 26th of October, assisted by Bishops Flaget and Purcell, he consecrated his new and beautiful cathedral, which was an occasion of joy to the whole city. A large body of the militia, and even the United States troops, from the barracks, near St. Louis, assisted at the ceremony. Two days after, on the 28th of October, the day of the Holy Apostles St. Simon (my patron) and St. Jude, I was consecrated in the same cathedral, by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Flaget, assisted by Bishop Rosati and Bishop Purcell. The sermon for the occasion was preached by the Rev. Mr. Hitzelberger.

Brute had left his mountain home in Emmitsburg, Maryland on the 15th of September. He and his companion, the Rev. Hitzelberger of the Baltimore Archdiocese, traveled to Cincinnati where, as mentioned in Brutés own words, above, they met up with Bishop Purcell. They continued on to Louisville, and from there, they were joined by Nicholas Petit S.J. who was a faculty member at St. Mary’s College in Kentucky.

The group then went on to St. Louis and it was there that the consecration took place on October 28th, which was a Tuesday in 1834. The consecration, which we now simply call an episcopal ordination, was celebrated by Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget of Bardstown, assisted by Bishop Joseph Rosati of St. Louis and Bishop John Baptist Purcell of Cincinnati.

The new bishop did not arrive in his see city of Vincennes until Wednesday, November 5, 1834. The “Old” Cathedral, as it is now known, still stands in St. Louis. The neighborhood where it stands has changed. The tattered look of 1900, (as seen in the black and white photo on the right) contrasted by the look today. If you have never been to the old cathedral, it is worth a visit. One thing you will notice is the resemblance to the cathedral of St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes. Read the history of the old cathedral.

On the following day, Bishop Brute issued his first pastoral letter. He said:

SIMON GABRIEL, by the Grace of God and the appointment of the Holy See, Bishop of Vincennes.
To all the faithful of our Diocese, grace be unto you from God the Father, and peace of our Lord, and Saviour Jesus Christ. Beloved Brethren —
Divine Providence sends me among you as the first Bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Vincennes, throught the unanimous call of the Bishops, assembled in council in Baltimore, last year, and the appointment of the common Father of the Faithful, Gregory XVI, the Vicar of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on earth, as expressed in his Bull of the 6th of May last.
Unworthy as I am of so great an honor, and myself unequal to the charge, my only trust is in God, and therefore earnestly calling for your prayers, that I may obtain His divine assistance, I come to be your chief pastor.
…We place our Cathedral under the special protection of Saint Francis Xavier, the whole diocese under that of the glorious Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary… Beloved brethren, we are children of the saints…
Given at St. Louis the day after our consecration, 29, 10th month, 1834.
+ Simon, Bishop of Vincennes

Regarding the lineage of bishops and archbishops and the influenece of Bishop Brute, note that a couple years ago, Archbishop Tobin made a pilgrimage to Vincennes, and the Cathedral of Saint Francis Xavier. Reporting in the Criterion, reporter Natalie Hoefer wrote:

Archbishop Tobin shared how, during the retreat he made in the week prior to his installment as archbishop of Indianapolis, he read about the life of Bishop Brute. “What jumped out at me off of those pages was what he did after he was ordained as a bishop in 1834, after he was sent here. He wrote a pastoral letter to people he had never met, and he said, “˜Do not be afraid. Fear is the devil’s instrument. Do not be afraid.’ 1

  1. The Criterion Friday, October 17, 2014 Page 9[]

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