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Death of Bishop Bruté

[This article originally appeared in American Catholic Historical Researches – Vol. 15, No.1, January 1898]

Sister Benedicta, at Vincennes, wrote to Mother Rose at Emmittsburg – June 17, 1839:

My Dear Mother:

At length the sad day has arrived on which we see [the] diocese of Vincennes deprived of its Bishop, the flock of CHRIST in his far west deprived of its shepherd, the children of the true Church befreft of their common Father, the Western World of one of its most zealous Apostles and the whole Christian world of one of the brightest lights and ornaments of our brethern, his priests, and especially by us–myself in particular, so long acquainted with him and for years and years receiving so many tokens of his kindness, but alas! he is no more; we must submit. He died last night about half past one o’clock in the most edifying manner, perfectly sensible to the last, speaking in the most affecting manner to his priests who surrounded him.

We had not the consolation of being present as it happened in the night, though we received his blessing yesterday. We left him dying at seven o’clock yesterday. As he was cared for entirely by Rev. Mr. Vabret, and some other food priests and seminarians, he wanted not our attention, except to prepare some of his nourishment, clothing etc. and send him. We visited him twice a day since he became so low; he wished to see us that often. He told me yesterday that he was going home; That he appointed Rev. Mr Vabret to act in his place in our regard; of course he meant until he would have a successor. His last words to us yesterday evening were: “God bless you! Pray for me.” And he told me to ask you all to pray for him. He was sitting in his chair yesterday nearly all day dying, the sweat running down, and about three o’clock in the afternoon he wrote a letter to some ladies who are Catholics in name and did not even go to Church. He told them it was the eve of his death; that tomorrow he would be in eternity and that he thought it his duty to entreat them at his dying hour to return to the Church or at least to the practice of their religion. He has been sitting up the greater part of the the time of his sickness and writing more or less everyday, although his weakness has been such that each day–excepting two or three–these four weeks past that I have not been at all surprised to see him die. But his zeal–his fervor kept up in its full vigor to the last sign.

When I would go to see him and ask him something about his health and wish to do something for him, he would take Kempis and open a chapter for me to read for hm and after spending a few minutes with him, he would bid us” “Good bye,” and say he wanted to rest. He did so when he was dying; he told all around him to go away, he wanted rest. He would not, until he got extremely low, permit anyone to sleep in his room at night. At eleven o’clock last night he sent Rev. Mr. Vabret to bed, saying it was too late for him to be up, as he was not well; he died two hours and a half later. Three other devoted sons were with him, one of whom, the last he ordained, Rev. Mr. Parry, [1] a most zealous priest. I shall try to get some of his hair to send you in this letter; I am sure many in the house will prize it as the relic of a saint, for if he is no one I know not where we will find one. His whole cry in his sickness was the will of God. When he told me yesterday he was goin home, he raised his hands and added: “The Will of God is All!” I cried once in his room; I could not hide my tears from him as I was reading for him; I choked. He said: “Do you think I want you here snubbing around me?” He scolded the priests is any cried before him; and they often did. I tried not to let him see I was affected after that. He looks so placid and pure. They will keep him for several days exposed in the church hoping Bishop Rosati may arrive. My heart is sunk low. In blessing us our dear Father added: “And the whole Community“. Rev. Mr. Vabret beg you will let the gentlemen at he Mountain know immediately ; and begs Masses, though he says ke knows that they need not be asked.

Out good Father told the Doctor that he would not rest well last night–that it would be his last night–his most happy night. He was then dying. The Doctor is not a Catholic but loved the Bishop much. Our good Father would frequently speak of St. Joseph’s and ask if I had written or received letters. I am sorry I did not get one to tell him. He often made us kneel down and pray for him.

Sister Benedicta

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  • Sister Benedicta Parsons was a member of the Sisters of Charity of Emmitsburg. She arrived at the request of Bishop Brute. One of her brothers had emigrated to Terre Haute previously [Brown: p.48]
  • The “Father Parry” that Sister Benedicta refers to was actually Fr. Anthony Parret who, in 1844, left the diocese and joined the Society of Jesus.
  • Fr. Jean Vabret, a member of the Society of Eudists, died in 1860.

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