Skip to content

Christmas 1834

As we celebrate Christmas this day, we remember the early Church in Indiana. Times were a lot tougher and so were the conditions back then. On Christmas, 1834, Simon Brute and Simon Lalumiere were the only two priests that officially belonged to the new Diocese of Vincennes.

Here is an excerpt from the book, After Holy Cross, Only Notre Dame: The Life of Brother Gatian by Br. George Klawitter, C.S.C.

The diocese of Vincennes was formed in 1834, and although Brute led the fledgling diocese for only five years, his visits to France resulted in bringing many strong clerics to Indiana, including Hailandiere, Benjamin Petit, St. Palais, and Michael Shawe. The last was actually British but was a student at St. Sulpice when Brute visited Paris.

When he was consecrated bishop, Brute found the only priest officially under him at Christmas, 1834, was Simon Lalumiere, who had been raised in Vincennes and worked the missions in the adjacent Daviess County. Four other priests were on loan from other dioceses, including Stephen Badin and Louis Deseille at work in the northern fringes of the diocese. During his first month as bishop, a single communicant was ministered to in Vincennes. But within six months, communions had jumped to sixty. Brut├ęs income for the first year was three hundred dollars, mostly in the form of grain and vegetables.

When he visited the total diocese his first year on horseback, he found but 25,000 Catholics among 400,000 inhabitants. Four years later he guessed the number of Catholics had doubled. The diocese included all of Indiana and a third of Illinois. In 1843 Chicago and all of Illinois was taken from the Vincennes diocese, and by 1850 Indiana Catholics numbered 50,000.

In 1834 there were but two priests for the entire territory, but with aggressive recruiting in France, Brute and his followers increased the number to twenty-two by 1838, thirty-five by 1849, and one hundred and twenty-seven by the time of Bishop St. Palais’ death in 1877. 1

And so, we remember, once again, the heroic sacrifices of those early missionaries, including both the men and the women, professed and secular, who carried the faith to the wilderness that was then Indiana.

Merry Christmas!!

  1. After Holy Cross, Only Notre Dame: The Life of Brother Gatian by Br. George Klawitter, C.S.C. New York: iUniverse, Inc. 2003.[]

Categories: Postings.

Tags: , , ,

Comment Feed

No Responses (yet)

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.