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Establishment of the Diocese of Vincennes-May 6, 1834

May 6, 1834 was the day that the Papal Bulls were issued establishing the Diocese of Vincennes. Obviously a very important day in the life of the Church in Indiana!

“A Brief creating’ the see of Vincennes and appointing Brute the first bishop was dispatched on April 12, 1834. The Apostolic Bull, Maximas inter gravissimasque curas, however, by which Pope Gregory XVI established the diocese, motu proprio, was not issued until May 6, 1834. The document repeated the terms concerning the limits of the new diocese, which were set forth in the petition, and fixed the see at Vincennes. In a separate Bull of the same date, Brute was informed of his appointment to Vincennes. On May 17,1834 the two Bulls with a congratulatory letter from the Cardinal Prefect were mailed to Brute who received them at Mt.St. Mary’s on July 22, 1834. The diocese of Vincennes, the thirteenth established in the United States, was thus the first whose erection had been requested by the prelates in a common council.” 1

The Papal Bull creating the Diocese of Vincennes is still kept safe in the Archdiocesan Archives. It is written on a scroll in an exquisite manuscript form. It reads:

Gregory XVI, Sovereign Pontiff. For a perpetual memorial. Among the very great and weighty cares and anxieties which continually burden and harass us in the government and administration of the Universal church entrusted to us by Divine Providence, the most urgent assuredly is that which regards the state of all the dioceses throughout the entire world: for in us it belongs, in virtue of our supreme power and judgment, to establish them, to determine and change their limits, as times and circumstances, and especially the spiritual good and advantage of the faithful, appear to require it. Since, therefore, by the united suffrages of our venerable brothers, the bishops of North America, it has seemed very fitting, in order to extend and strengthen the Catholic religion in the province or state of Indiana, to erect and establish, with certain fixed limits, a new diocese, whose see shall be at the city of Vincennes, we have referred for examination, a subject of so much importance to the congregation of our venerable brothers, the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, who are placed over the concerns of the Propaganda. Having therefore weighed all things maturely, and considered particularly the spiritual good which would accrue to the people of those countries, by the advice and counsel of the same, our venerable brothers, we are assured that the establishment of this new diocese and episcopal see would be very useful. Of our own will, therefore, and of our certain knowledge, and in the plentitude of our apostolic power, we, by these letters, do erect and establish in the province or state of Indiana, in North America, a new diocese, of which the see shall be the city of Vincennes, from which city the diocese shall receive its title. The extent of the diocese shall be the state of Indiana, and one part of Illinois, the other part to be attached to the diocese of St. Louis, so that the limits of each, diocese in the state of Illinois be determined in the following manner: Beginning, from the river Ohio, which separates Kentucky from Illinois on the south, directly from Fort Massac, let a right line be drawn through the eastern boundaries of the counties of Johnson, Franklin, Jefferson, Marion, Fayette, Shelby and Macon, to the Grand Rapids of the Illinois river, which are eight miles above the town of Ottawa, in the county of Lasselle, and hence to the northern boundary of the state, so that the western part of the state of Illinois belong to the diocese of St. Louis, and the eastern part to the diocese of Vincennes. We therefore ordain that these letters are and shall be inviolate, valid and efficacious; that they have and retain their full power and entire force, and that each and every article specified by us, be strictly fulfilled, and thus, as aforesaid, be without authority judged and defined, by all ordinary judges whatsoever, and even delegated auditors of causes, the apostolical palace and the cardinals of the Holy Roman church withholding from each and all of them any right to assign a different judgment or interpretation; and that if any such be attempted knowingly, or through ignorance, by anyone, whatever may be his authority, the same shall be null and void, apostolic constitutions and ordinances and all other things to the contrary notwithstanding.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s under the ring of the Fisherman on this 6th day of May 1834, and in the fourth year of our Pontificate. For Cardinal Albana. A. PICCHIONI. 2

We celebrate this day!!

  1. Fr. Robert Gorman, Unpublished “History of the Catholic Church in Indiana” p. 410[]
  2. English translation taken from – Godecker, Mary Salesia. 1931. Simon Bruté de Rémur, first bishop of Vincennes. St. Meinrad, Ind: St. Meinrad historical essays[]

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