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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
September 4, 1987     The Message
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September 4, 1987

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is oldest parish in Diocese mll III I I III the first mission begin, in 1749 to secure the route and the area for his ng and to trade with indian fur trappers operating nearby. It was in Vincennes where years earlier, a French Jesuit missionary, from Canada, or New France, offered Mass before 'astonished savages' in the year 1702. This event is considered the beginning of French civilization in Indiana. "In 1734 the Jesuit missionary Francois Xavier de Guyenne reportedly ministered at Vincennes. He named the little church after his patron saint, Francis Xavier, the great 16th century Jesuit apostle of the Indies. It was quite fitting for the first mission in Indiana. Parish records begin at St. Francis Xavier (or Old Cathedral) in 1749. The first marriage record or the first fact in the history of the Catholic Church in Indiana is preserved in the archives of the Brute Library in Vincennes. The first marriage was between Julien Trattier of : vlontreal, and Josette Marie, the daughter of a French- man and an Indian woman. The entry was made April 21, 1749 and signed by the Jesuit Father, Sebastian Louis Meurin. "Besides being a place for Mass, the first Church also served as a meeting room. During the American Revolution, the Virginian George Rogers Clark negotiated the surrender of the British held fort. The pastor, Father Pierre Gibault, vicar general of the Diocese of Quebec, gained parishioner support for Clark's cause." Another intertwining of church and American history is marked by a cross in the churchyard, the grave of Father John Francis Rivet. In 1795, President George Washington asked Congress for an appropriation to pay a teacher in the North- west Territory. Congress appropriated the sum of $200 year- , ly, the trst time public money was used for educational pur- poses in the Northwest. Father Rivet is known as the first -, public school teacher. Indiana was first under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Quebec, in 1674. After the War of Independence, Pope Plus VI included Indiana and all of the country extending to the Mississippi River in the Diocese of Baltimore, in 1789. Pope Plus VII divided the area into four dioceses in 1808; Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget, of the Diocese of Bardstown, was given responsibility for the spiritual development of the en- tire upper Mississippi River valley. On May 6, 1834, Pope See ST. FRANCIS page 11 to 1898, = Here in Io church Hamilton areed on surrender to Clark in 1779 Basilica of St. Francis Xavier, Old Cathedral 205 Church Street, Vincennes, Indiana 47591 (812) 882-5638 Pastor:. .......................... :. Father Between the Old Cathedral and the Wabash River is the George Rogers Clark Memorial, at right, which commemorates the winning of the West in the Revolutionary War. . Below, the Crucifixion scene was painted directly on the plaster in 1870 by the German artist Lamprecht.