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Benjamin Petit

Today is the 171st anniversary of the death of Benjamin Marie Petit, Saint to the Pottawatomi Indians. I simply repeat what I wrote last year because it bears repeating…

Today marks the death of Fr. Benjamin Marie Petit, the young Breton priest who came to the United States with Bishop Brute in June of 1836 to serve the Church in the missionary territory of Indiana.

Petit had been trained in his native France as a lawyer, having graduated from the University of Rennes (Brut├ęs home town) in 1832. He spent three years practicing law and then entered the seminary at St. Sulpice. In April of 1836 he wrote to his mother and told her that he was going to join Bishop Brute in Indiana. His family protested, apparently because of this fragile health. However, Petit insisted, and he left France in June and arrived in New York on July 21, 1836. He was then sent on to Vincennes.

By the end of the year he had received Minor Orders and then in September of 1837 he was ordained a Deacon and on October 14, 1837 he was ordained a priest at Vincennes by Bishop Brute.

His wish had always been to serve the Indians and with the death of Father Louis DeSeille, his wish had been granted.

You can read more on Fr. Petit as well as other “Indiana Saints” by going to Indiana Saints

Finally, let me say that although his words sound, perhaps, overly pious in this day and age, Petit, in a letter to his mother, dated October 15, 1837, just one day after his ordination, said:

“I am now a priest, and the hand that is writing to you bore Jesus Christ this morning! How can I express to you all that I should like to say, and yet, how can I not wish to say something of what no tongue can express? …When I think that in two days I shall start from here all alone, going nearly three hundred miles to bestow sacraments — graces ratified in heaven — among people whom I do not know at all, but to whom God sends me–I tremble at the though of my nothingness. …How deeply to I feel myself penetrated by St. Paul’s thought, that God loves to accomplish great things by using that which is nothing…”

Certainly, this man is a Saint…

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