Skip to content

Indiana “Saints”

I’m not a Canon Lawyer and I have never played one on TV… However, to quote the website Crux:

Pope Francis declared a new category of Christian life suitable for consideration of beatification called”offering of life” – in which a person has died prematurely through an offering of their life for love of God and neighbor.

In the apostolic letter, Pope Francis wrote that”They are worthy of special consideration and honor, those Christians who, following in the footsteps and teachings of the Lord Jesus, have voluntarily and freely offered their lives for others and have persevered until death in this regard.

“œIt is certain that the heroic offering of life, suggested and supported by charity, expresses a true, full and exemplary imitation of Christ, and therefore deserves the admiration that the community of the faithful usually reserves to those who have voluntarily accepted the martyrdom of blood or have exercised in a heroic degree the Christian virtues,” the pope continued.

The document is titled Maiorem Hac Dilectionem, or”greater love than this,” after the verse from the Gospel of John which says:”No one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

I’m sure there are all kinds of additional considerations for this to happen, but as soon as I heard this, I thought of three people immediately. There are even more, but let me consider these three and how their lives, and deaths, seem to fit very well into this category.

The first person is Father Benjamin Marie Petit, a priest of the Diocese of Vincennes who begged and pleaded with Servant of God Bishop Simon Brute to allow him to not only minister to the Potawatomi people in northern Indiana, but to also accompany them on the “Trail of Death”, the long march across Indiana, Illinois and and Missouri into the Kansas Territory. On the Trail of Death website it is written

After placing the Potawatomi in the spiritual hands of Jesuit Father Christian Hoecken. S. J., at the Sugar Creek Mission in Kansas on November 4, 1838, Father Petit again fell sick with fever and painful open sores. On January 2, 1839, he started by horseback back to Indiana, accompanied by Abram”Nan-wesh-mah” Burnett, a full-blood Potawatomi friend who was the same age. Petit again took ill on the journey. With three open sores draining his strength, he rode east from Jefferson City, Missouri, in an open wagon, the roads rough and the rain frequent. He reached the Jesuit seminary at St. Louis University on Jan. 15. The fathers gave him all the medical attention and care they could, but he grew weaker and weaker. Father John A. Elet, then rector – president of St. Louis University, later wrote that he placed a crucifix to Father Petit’s dying lips and twice he kissed it tenderly. He lay in agony and finally expired 20 minutes before midnight, February 10, 1839, a martyr to his duty and his extraordinary devotion and love for his Potawatomi family. He had lived but 27 years and 10 months.

No one can dispute that this was an “offering of life

The second example is that of Father Vincent Bacquelin. Another young French priest who came to Indiana with Bishop Brute. Here is how he met his end:

It seemed, however, that many of the early missionaries, especially those who seemed to be so zealous, died before their time. While on a sick call on September 2, 1846 in Rush County, Fr. Bacquelin was thrown from his horse against a tree and was killed instantly. He was buried at St. Vincent’s Shelby County. 1

Once again… “an offering of life

Last but not least, Father John Plunkett, another one of Bishop Brutés recruits. He served the people, particularly the Irish along the canal near Joliet, Illinois.

Traveling through Troy Township, just west of Joliet, back towards Joliet on a stormy 14th of March 1840, Father Plunkett was riding with two other men in escort. Blinded by the storm he hit a low hanging branch. By the time the rear escort had caught up with him he had passed into the Lord’s hands. Between May 5-7, 1844, the first diocesan Synod for the Diocese of Vincennes assembled and there honored Father Plunkett posthumously with a solemn Mass of Requiem.

One more example of “an offering of life“.

The point I am making is that these three men, and I am certain that we could name many more men and women who have offered their lives and given their lives. There aren’t enough resources, human or financial to push any of these “causes” through the system, even if Pope Francis has made it easier. However, it is nice to know that in our mind, at least, these are Indiana Saints and we can call on them for their prayers — not in any official way, but certainly they are listening!


Categories: Postings.

Tags: , , ,

Comment Feed

No Responses (yet)

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.