CV NEW FEED // A Saint, a Venerable, and a Servant of God who served the Catholic Church in Indiana are being honored in the Diocese of Evansville as part of Bishop Joseph M. Siegel’s call to celebrate southwest Indiana’s Catholic heritage.
The three will be honored in the Catholic Center, which is used as a meeting and office space for the diocese.
Each holy man and woman has a designated conference room where their portrait will be displayed. During meetings, employees and visitors may look up and take inspiration from these local models of Catholic excellence.
St. Mother Théodore Guérin founded the Sisters of Providence in St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.
Guérin was born in 1798 in Etables, France, and given the name Anne-Therese. She knew she wanted to be a nun by age 10, but she had to care for her mother and sister after her father was murdered when she was only 15.
Eventually, she was able to join the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé-sur-Loirat when she was 25. The sisters’ mission was twofold: to educate children and to care for the poor, sick, and dying.
In 1840, the Sisters of Providence instructed Guérin to lead a group of sisters to evangelize Indiana. Guérin began with only a log-cabin chapel and opened schools in Illinois and Indiana. She soon founded St. Mary of the Woods College, a liberal arts college that still exists today.
Though initially shocked by the isolation and wilderness of 1840s Indiana, she came to love the place.
“At each step we can admire the grandeur, the power, the goodness of God … I love our woods and solitude very much,” she said.
She was buried at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in St. Mary-of-the-Woods and canonized in 2006. Her feast day is October 3.
The diocese will also be honoring Venerable Poor Clare Mother Maria Maddalena Bentivoglio (1834-1905), who is known as the first Poor Clare in the United States.
Bentivoglio founded the Monastery of St. Clare in Evansville, Indiana. She was born in Italy in 1834 as Annetta, the daughter of a count. She became a Poor Clare in 1864, along with one of her 15 siblings.
In a time of political unrest and religious persecution, she became the abbess of a new community in the United States. After a long process, the Poor Clares made their way to Omaha, Nebraska, where their monastery was destroyed twice while under construction. Mother Maddalena finally founded a monastery in Evansville, Indiana, which is still open today.
She died in Evansville on August 18, 1905. Her cause for canonization was first introduced in 1929 and reopened in 1969.
Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté (1779-1839) was a bishop of the Diocese of Vincennes, the first Catholic diocese in Indiana. At the time, the state of Indiana and the eastern third of Illinois made up the Vincennes diocese.
Bruté was born in Rennes, France, in 1779. He lived through the French Revolution and brought the Eucharist to priests imprisoned during the persecution. He was ordained a priest in 1808 and, two years later, left for the United States to be a missionary.
At first, he worked as a professor in Maryland and became the spiritual director and friend of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. He became bishop of the new Diocese of Vincennes in 1834 and spent much effort finding priests and funds for the poor diocese, even inviting St. Theodore Guerin to Indiana.
Brute died in 1839, and his cause for canonization opened in 2005. The Church is sorting through his many writings and other documentation, which has slowed the process.
Through their work, St. Mother Théodore Guérin, Ven. Poor Clare Mother Maria Maddalena Bentivoglio, and Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté have each had a lasting effect on Indiana.
Though two have not yet been canonized, they are all examples of holiness who have made their mark on the state.
Guérin is one of the 11 saints who died in the United States, but Bentivoglio and Brute may someday join their ranks.