Main Site Navigation
The Diocese of Vincennes—now the Archdiocese of Indianapolis—was established by Pope Gregory XVI on May 6, 1834. The territory then comprised the entire state of Indiana and the eastern third of Illinois. The latter was separated from the Diocese of Vincennes upon the establishment of the Diocese of Chicago, November 28, 1843.
By decree of Pope Pius IX, January 8, 1857, the northern half of the state became the Diocese of Fort Wayne, the boundaries being that part of the state north of the south boundaries of Fountain, Montgomery, Boone, Hamilton, Madison, Delaware, Randolph, and Warren counties. The remaining southern half of the state made up the Diocese of Vincennes, embracing 50 counties. It covered an area of 18,479 square miles extending from the north boundaries of Marion and contiguous counties to the Ohio River and from Illinois on the west to Ohio on the east.
The second bishop of Vincennes was permitted by apostolic brief to establish his residence at Vincennes, Madison, Lafayette, or Indianapolis; Vincennes was, however, to remain the see city. This permission, with the subtraction of Lafayette, was renewed to the fourth bishop.
Upon his appointment in 1878, Bishop Francis Chatard, the fifth bishop of Vincennes, was directed to fix his residence at Indianapolis. Although the site of the cathedral and the title of the see were continued at Vincennes, Bishop Chatard used St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis as an unofficial cathedral until the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul was completed in 1907. St. John the Evangelist Parish, established in 1837, was the first parish in Indianapolis and Marion County. By apostolic brief dated March 28, 1898, the title of the diocese was changed to that of “Diocese of Indianapolis,” with the episcopal see in the city of Indianapolis. Although the bishop’s official residence was changed, the patron of the diocese remained St. Francis Xavier, the title of the Old Cathedral at Vincennes. In 2006, following the canonization of Mother Theodore Guérin, the first canonized saint from the archdiocese, the Holy See proclaimed her as patroness of the archdiocese along with Francis Xavier.
An apostolic decree of His Holiness Pope Pius XII, creating the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, was issued October 21, 1944. On December 19, 1944, by executorial decree of the papal delegate, the Most Reverend Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, apostolic delegate to the United States, the papal decree of Pope Pius XII was solemnly proclaimed in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, elevating Indianapolis to the status of an archdiocese, the state of Indiana becoming the metropolitan area. The dioceses of Evansville and Lafayette-in-Indiana were created by the same decree and, along with the Diocese of Fort Wayne, made suffragan sees of Indianapolis. Upon establishment of the Diocese of Gary on February 25, 1957, it too became a suffragan see.
The current size of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is 13,757.7 square miles, according to 1990 measurements from the Indiana State Library Reference Division, and comprises the counties of Bartholomew, Brown, Clark, Clay, Crawford, Dearborn, Decatur, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Hancock, Harrison, Hendricks, Henry, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Johnson, Lawrence, Marion, Monroe, Morgan, Ohio, Orange, Owen, Parke, Perry, Putnam, Ripley, Rush, Scott, Shelby, Switzerland, Union, Vermillion, Vigo, Washington, and Wayne and the township of Harrison in Spencer County, in the southern part of Indiana.