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Bishop Hailandiere returns to Vincennes

Here are some interesting news articles from 1882 concerning the return of the body of Celestine Guynemer de la Hailandiere, that is, Bishop de la Hailandiere, the second Bishop of Vincennes, to the United States following his death on May 1, 1882.

The Bishop had always wanted to be buried in Vincennes. After his resignation in 1847 amid much controversy, he returned to his native France where he remained for the next 35 years. Obviously much had changed in this country and certainly in the Diocese of Vincennes. Two bishops had come and gone (Bazin and St. Palais), and the third, Bishop Chatard had moved to Indianapolis.

Bishop St. Palais had overseen the largest growth in the Church in Indiana as well as the further division of the Diocese to include the new Diocese of Fort Wayne.

The November 17th edition of the New York Times had a small article about the arrival of Hailandiere’s body in New York. His nephew, Rev. Ernest Audran, who was ordained by Bishop Hailandiere, accompanied the body from New York to Vincennes. Read it here:

In another article from Morning Review, Decatur, IL on Nov 20th, 1882 Bishop Chatard enters the picture, although he was not present at any of the ceremonies honoring Bishop Hailandiere.

Indiana has been blessed with the canonization of Mother Theodore Guérin, (and now the possibility of our beloved Bishop Brute someday being canonized), however, that recognition for Mother Theodore’s example of holiness brought some national attention to the journey that Mother Theodore took to become Indiana’s first saint. Specifically the relationship between Mother Theodore and then Bishop of Vincennes, Celestine de la Hailandiere.

I’ve written here, numerous times, that all the bad things that are reported to have happened between Mother Theodore, the Sisters of Providence and Bishop Hailandiere did happen. There is no denying that, but modern pundits have put a spin on it which, I do not believe ever existed. It seems that everyone looks at the situation as it existed and comes to the conclusion that Hailaindere was this evil sexist individual who wanted nothing more than to destroy Mother Theodore. He’s even been called mentally unstable.

I believe that the bishop was simply what we now call a control freak, a micromanager. Yet, this is the same man who gave up everything and came to America to serve the Church in the Indiana wilderness just like Mother Theodore did. Her perseverance, in the face of opposition, not only from Bishop Hailandiere, but also many others, is part of what made her a true saint. My purpose is to give Bishop Hailandiere some credit for the sacrifices he made and for his love of the Church in Indiana. He may not have been a saint, but he certainly gave much to the cause of the Catholic Church in Indiana.

Before his death in May of 1882 he could have instructed that his body be buried in France, his birthplace, but he did not. Instead he asked to be buried in Vincennes. On November 17, 1882 Hailandiere’s body arrived back in the United States after after a 35 year self imposed exile. He was interred in the Old Cathedral, Vincennes, on November 22, 1882. This wish to be returned to Vincennes, says something, I think, about his character and his love for the Church in Indiana.


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