The History of the Catholic Church in Indiana — Indiana Saints

Father Louis Nicholas Petit S.J.

[from the Bibliography]

  Petit, Louis Nicholas S.J.
ACHR, Master of Ceremonies at Brute Consecration, 15:55; Brown, The History of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods; Dunne, Souvenir of Archbishop Feehan, 5; Garraghan, The Jesuits of the Middle United States, II:118-119, 220n, III:255, 294; McAvoy, The Catholic Church in Indiana 1789-1834; Schauinger, Cathedrals in the Wilderness; Trisco, The Holy See and the Nascent Church in the Middle Western United States 1826-1850; Webb, Catholicity in Kentucky, 386; Woodstock, Father Nicholas Petit and the Cadjutorship of the Diocese of Vincennes, 31:39-44 (1902);

From Benjamin Webb's "Catholicity in Kentucky":

"Rev. Nicholas Petit was born on the island of Hayti on the 8th of July, 1789. His father was a rich Creole planter, originally from Lyons, -France, and he lost his life in the general massacre of the French by the negroes of the island, in 1793. His mother fled the country with her children and went to Baltimore, where, having lost everything in the catastrophe that had deprived her of a husband, she was content, in order to gain a livelihood, to open and conduct a boarding- school for young ladies. Nicholas attended the schools of the Sulpician fathers, and as the family remained in Baltimore for .nine years, the lad became in time just as proficient in the use of the English language,as any of his playmates or school companions. He was twelve years of age when his mother determined to return to France; and? his after education being prosecuted in the mother country, in the the spoken language of the United States. He was educated for the holy ministry in France, and was there ordained priest. He became a member of the Society of Jesus on the. 15th of January, 1816, about six months after the re-establishment of the order by Plus VII; and he labored for many years in the fruitful missions by which piety and faith in France were so greatly advanced after the restoration of the Bourbons. When; in company with Father Chazelle in 1830, he reached the United States, he supposed it would be necessary for him to. begin again of the English language, but he found, even before he had reached Bardstown, that his knowledge of the idiom was not dead, but had only slept. For the reason, possibly, that he had much experience as a missionary priest, Father Petit was given charge of the church of St. Charles, near the college, a position which be retained while the Jesuits remained in Kentucky. He also paid periodical visits to the Catholics residing in and around the town of Raywick, -in Marion county, for whom, in 1839, he succeeded in building the present church of St. Francis Xavier. He was among the last of his brethren to leave Kentucky. He afterwards labored in the houses of the order in New York with much zeal and fidelity, and his death took place in Troy, N. Y., on the 1st day of February, 1855." *My remembrance ,of Father Petit extends to the time when he was assistant pastor of the cathedral parish, Bardstown, in 1831. In the discharge of his pastoral duties he was as zealous as he was efficient. Though not above the average height. of men, he was of a full habit. In Kentucky he was called Louis, in New York, Nicholas. I naturally suppose that both names belonged to him.