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The Birth of Simon Petit Lalumiere

September 18th marks the anniversary of the birth of Simon Petit Lalumiere in 1804, the “First Priest of Bishop Brute”. That is, the first priest who was assigned, if you will, to the newly created Diocese of Vincennes.

During the Centennial of the Diocese, in 1934, Saint Meinrad Historical Essays published an article by Joseph Casey, entitled “The First Priest of Bishop Brute” Here is a excerpt of that article:

Perhaps it was consciously that successors of Simon Brute happily used on their part of the canvas the strong colors with which the first Bishop had begun the picture; for, though details may have been lost for years, the Episcopal office insured the living of a strong tradition. But it was unconsciously that successors of Simon Lalumiere as happily took their coloring from the first priest, for his life work, long ago forgotten and lost had not the office and dignity to command that his memory live. In their proper spheres one was the equal of the other; both were masters of their art, the first Bishop and his first Priest.

Simon Petit Lalumiere was born at Vincennes on September 18, 1804, of immigrant stock. The first of the Petit family, Nicholas, had come to America in 1660. The first indication of residence in Vincennes is the marriage of Simon’s parents in 1784. Simon was the fifth of six children. He made his studies at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Bardstown Kentucky. He was ordained a Deacon on November 23, 1828 and a Priest on January 3, 1830. Both ceremonies took place at the Old Cathedral in Bardstown and were presided over by Bishop Flaget.

Lalumiere waited in Bardstown until June of 1830. He then went to Daviess County where a group of Kentuckians had settled near the forks of the White River. This was known as Black Oak Ridge near what is now known as Washington Indiana. Simon also ministered to the Catholic community in Shelby County and numerous other places in the state. He worked with Father Nichols Petit S.J. who operated out of St. Mary’s College, Kentucky.

In 1834 when the Diocese of Vincennes became a reality, Lalumiere, along with Fr. Ferneding at New Alsace were the only priests assigned to the new diocese. In 1842 he was appointed the pastor at Terre Haute where he remained until his death in 1857. He was buried in the church of St. Joseph in Terre Haute, but the exact spot is not known. It is said that the original marker bore the words:”I sleep, but my heart watcheth” 1

Remarkably there was another Lalumiere, a nephew, named Stanislaus Petit Lalumiere. He was born in 1822 and became a Jesuit and later the fourth rector-president of Marquette College (now university). For the longest time it was thought that the picture, seen here of “S. Lalumiere” was our Simon. Turns out it was Stanislaus SJ, Genealogy records show that Stanislaus was the son of Simon’s brother, Antoine (Jr.).

Back to Simon however. Brute appointed Simon Vicar General in 1835. After Brute’s death in 1839 Lalumiere continued to work with the same zeal as before. Simon Lalumiere He remained Vicar General until the new Bishop, Celestine Hailandiere, could return from France. Lalumiere purchased land for future churches and worked hard to expand the ministry that he and others were engaged in.

When Lalumieré made his visits around the state, he wrote a column for the Cincinnati Telegraph and signed the articles “A Missionary” Below is a link to a PDF file showing Lalumieré’s article from the May 18, 1833 issue of the paper. He talks of his visits to Bartholomew and Shelby counties and his hope for additional priests and a bishop. He also shows a little bit of a wry wit. Keep in mind that this was about one year before the establishment of the Diocese of Vincennes and about 18 months before the arrival of Bishop Brute.

Click to view the article: Cincinnati Telegraph

  1. Casey, Joseph P. First Priest of Bishop Brute, St. Meinrad Historical Essays, Vol. 3, No. 2, May 1934, 118-121[]

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