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Brute death

Once again we come to the anniversary of the death of Simon Brute, first Bishop of Vincennes and “Servant of God. Brute died on this day (June 26th) in 1839, just five years after he became the bishop of the newly created diocese.

There have always been stories and reports about Brut├ęs simple holiness and his zeal for the faith. When he died, Elihu Stout, the Protestant editor of the local newspaper, eulogized Brute with the following words:

The news of his death produced a general and almost unanimous expression of grief amongst our citizens: and well have we cause to lament this event, for to many, very many he was dear; to the one as a friend, to the other as a comforter; to the third as a teacher, or as a literary companion, and to all as a pattern of goodness, morality and pure piety. His character was truly amiable, and his manners so conciliating, that wherever he could not make friends, he was sure not to make enemies, and we can safely affirm, that he died without the latter.1

Henry Cauthorn (1828-1905), the author of the History of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral wrote:

…The following day, when the announcement was made that Bishop Brute was dead, a universal expression of sorrow pervaded all classes of people in Vincennes. All the organizations in the town, without regard to religious differences gave evidence of sincere sorrow and regret at his death. All the civil organizations in the place passed appropriate resolutions and agreed to attend the funeral. …His funeral took place on Friday, the 28th of June, 1839, and was the largest ever known in the place. …A requiem high mass was celebrated by Rev. Simon Lalumiere, who also preached a funeral sermon. On the Church register the following simple and brief entry of his burial was made enclosed in black lines:

‘Simon Gabriel Brute, the first Bishop of Vincennes, Indiana born at Rennes in France, died on the 26th of June, 1839, and half past one in the morning. He was buried on the 28th with as much pomp as we could. Most all the population of the town attended. Much regretted by every one, even Protestants. High Mass and sermon by S. Petit Lalumiere, Vicar General. Consecrated Bishop on 28th Oct 1834.’

He was buried beneath the altar of his Cathedral, but afterward, in the fall of the following year, the ground under the sanctuary was dug out by order of Bishop de la Hailandiere to make room for a basement chapel, and his remains were removed from the place where he was first buried and were placed behind the altar of this basement chapel where they have ever since remained.2

  1. Western Sun and General Advertiser – Vincennes, Indiana – 29 June 1839 []
  2. Cauthorn, Henry, St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Vincennes Indiana, 1892 []
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