Feature Article - April 21, 1749 - First Church Record - Vincennes Old Cathedral

Vincennes Old Cathedral
Vincennes Old Cathedral

Indiana’s Timeless Tales - Pre-History to 1781
Indiana’s Timeless Tales - Pre-History to 1781
April 21, 1749 - First Church Record - Vincennes Old Cathedral
Old Cathedral (Basilica of St. Francis Xavier)
The Old Cathedral near the Wabash River in Vincennes, Indiana is an inspiring place to visit. The church is open to visitors during the daylight hours. Take care not to visit the church during Mass, as it is an active Catholic Church. The staff does offer guided tours, however, visitors may elect to tour on their own. Near the front door, visitors will find an informative brochure about the lovely cathedral that relates its fascinating history. The stained glass windows inside the church are stunning. The high altar is impressive, as well. On each side of the church, a stairwell leads down to the crypt, which holds the remains of the four bishops of Vincennes.
St. Francis Xavier Established the Church
French Jesuit priests established the parish of St. Francis Xavier in 1734. They named it after French Jesuit apostle Francis Xavier, cofounder of their order. The first church record dates from April 21, 1749 and records a marriage between Julien Trattier and Josette Marie. The parish is the oldest Catholic parish in Indiana.
Vincennes Old Cathedral
Vincennes Old Cathedral

Three Churches on the Site
The current church is the third church to occupy the site. The first church, built by 1732, consisted of logs pushed into the ground and topped by a mud daubed bark roof. The second church, a log building, was constructed in 1770. The library building, constructed in 1840, stands on the site occupied by that church. The current church, begun on March 30, 1826, served as the cathedral for four Catholic bishops from 1834 until 1877.
Visitors may take self-guided tours from 8:15 AM through 3:45 PM daily. Visitors cannot tour the building during Mass.
For more information call:

Old Cathedral Library & Museum
Old Cathedral Library & Museum
Behind the Old Cathedral, visitors will find the Old Cathedral Library and Museum.
Pastor Father Benedict Joseph Flaget started the Old Cathedral Library in 1794 to serve as a community library. The library expanded in 1840 with the addition of Bishop Bruté's personal collection of over 5000 books. The parish built the small brick building on the Old Cathedral grounds to house this collection. By 1968, the collection had grown to over 11,000 books. The Lilly Endowment, in Indianapolis, provided a grant in 1968 to construct a new building. The collection includes a Papal Bull issued by Pope John XXII in 1319. Visitors will also find prehistoric stone tools, old maps, painting, Governor William Henry Harrison's peace pipe and various religious and American relics. The library also has some Abraham Lincoln memorabilia, among other things.
Old Cathedral Library & Museum
205 Church Street
Vincennes, IN 47591
(812) 882-5638
(800) 886-6443
Excerpted from the author's book:
Indiana’s Timeless Tales - Pre-History to 1781

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