August 1, 2014

Archbishop Tobin to lead Vincennes pilgrimage to mark archdiocese’s 180th anniversary this year

The Old Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes, Ind., is the oldest church in Indiana. Pilgrims from all over the world have visited the historic church. A statue of Father Pierre Gibault, vicar general of “the Illinois country,” who lived from 1737 to 1804, stands in front of the basilica. To mark the 180th anniversary of the founding of what is now known as the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin will lead a one-day pilgrimage to Vincennes on Sept. 22.  (Criterion file photo)

The Old Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes, Ind., is the oldest church in Indiana. Pilgrims from all over the world have visited the historic church. A statue of Father Pierre Gibault, vicar general of “the Illinois country,” who lived from 1737 to 1804, stands in front of the basilica. To mark the 180th anniversary of the founding of what is now known as the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin will lead a one-day pilgrimage to Vincennes on Sept. 22. (Criterion file photo)

By Natalie Hoefer

This year marks the 180th anniversary of the founding of what is now known as the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

In honor of this hallmark, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin will lead a pilgrimage on Sept. 22 to Vincennes, Ind., where the archdiocese has its roots.

The pilgrimage will take in many of the historic sites so important to the founding of the archdiocese, including the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier—the first cathedral of the archdiocese—also known simply as “The Old Cathedral.”

The cathedral was built in 1826, eight years before the archdiocese was established—originally as the Diocese of Vincennes—by Pope Gregory XVI on May 6, 1834.

The cathedral is now the church of a parish of the Evansville, Ind., Diocese. It is named for the patron saint of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, St. Francis Xavier.

In addition to participating in a Mass celebrated in the cathedral by Archbishop Tobin, pilgrims will have an opportunity to tour the historic building, taking in the church’s solid yellow poplar pillars, stations of the cross painted in Paris in 1883, a high altar dating from 1904 and stained-glass windows installed in 1908.

In the cathedral, pilgrims will also visit the crypt of the Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté—the archdiocese’s first bishop who served from 1834 until his death in 1839—as well as the crypts of his three immediate successors, Bishops Celestine de la Hailandière (1839-1847), John Stephen Bazin (1847-1848) and Maurice de St. Palais (1849-1877).

It is said that Bishop Bruté was a voracious reader, owning a personal library of more than 5,000 books. His collection became the start of Indiana’s oldest library, which now resides behind the cathedral.

Pilgrims will tour the library and attached museum. The oldest book in the collection is a colorfully illuminated manuscript written in the 13th century. The collection also includes a papal bull written in 1319 and a book printed in 1476, just 26 years after Johannes Gutenberg invented the moveable type printing press. The library now contains between 10,000 and12,000 rare volumes, about 10 percent of which are on display at a time.

In 1970, Pope Paul VI elevated St. Francis Cathedral to the status of minor basilica, recognizing the church’s historical significance.

Pilgrims will also have an opportunity to enjoy the architecture of other historic buildings on the property where the archdiocese’s earliest members and priests left their footprints.

Such structures include the Greek Revival-style rectory built in 1841, remnants of the former St. Gabriel’s College founded by Bishop Bruté in 1837, a belfry bell purchased by Bishop Bruté in France and a Catholic grade school constructed in 1884.

Archbishop Tobin hopes that this pilgrimage will be an opportunity for prayer, conversion and a deeper understanding of the origins of our Catholic heritage in Indiana.

The pilgrimage will depart from the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center, 1400 N. Meridian St., by bus at 7:45 a.m. The cost is $65 per person, which includes transportation by motor coach, a bag breakfast, lunch and all fees and gratuities. The bus will return to Indianapolis between 5 and 6 p.m.

The trip will be filled on a first come-first served basis. Pilgrims may register on-line at www.archindy.org/pilgrimage.
 

Questions can be directed to archdiocesan special events director Carolyn Noone at 317-236-1428 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1428.

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!