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Simon William Gabriel Bruté de Rémur
First Bishop of Vincennes, Indiana, U.S.A. (now Indianapolis), b. at Rennes, France, 20 March 1779; d. at Vincennes, 26 June, 1839. His father was Simon-Guillaume-Gabriel Bruté de Remur, of an ancient and respectable family, and Superintendent of the Royal Domains in Brittany; and his mother, Jeanne-Renee Le Saulnier de Vauhelle Vater, widow of Francis Vater, printer to the King and Parliament at Rennes. Young Bruté had attended the schools of his native city several years when the Revolution interrupted his studies. He then learned and practised the business of a compositor in the printing establishment of his mother, where she placed him to avoid his enrolment in a regiment of children who took part in the fusillades of the Reign of Terror. This did not prevent his witnessing many horrible and exciting scenes, and in his diary he mentions having been present at the trial and precipitate execution of priests and nobles in the cause of their religion. He frequented the prisons and made friends of the guards, who admitted him to the cells, where he received and delivered letters for the clergy incarcerated there. More than once he bore in his bosom to these suffering heroes the Blessed Sacrament.
In 1796 Bruté began the study of medicine, and in spite of the avowed infidelity then prevalent in the schools, he remained proof against sophistry and ridicule. He was graduated in 1803, but did not practice medicine, as he immediately entered upon the ecclesiastical studies, which he pursued for four years at the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice, Paris. Ordained priest on the 11th of June, 1808, he joined the Society of Saint-Sulpice and, after teaching theology for two years, he sailed for the United States with Bishop-elect Flaget (1810). At St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, he taught philosophy for two years and then was sent for a short time to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He was transferred thence to Mt. St. Mary's Emmitsburg, where he taught and at the same time performed the duties of pastor for the Catholics of that vicinity with such devotion that he became known as the "Angel of the Mount". During this period he became the spiritual director of Mother Seton, foundress of the Sisters of Charity in the United States, with whom he maintained a lifelong friendship.
In 1815 he was appointed President of St. Mary's College, Baltimore, but after three years (1818) he returned to Emmitsburg. In 1826, Mt. St. Mary's College being no longer dependent upon the Fathers of Saint-Sulpice, its founders, Father Bruté ceased to belong to that society, but continued his duties at the "Mountain" until 1834, when he was appointed to the newly created See of Vincennes. He was consecrated in St. Louis, October the 28th, 1834, by the Right Rev. Benedict J. Flaget, Bishops Rosati and Purcell assisting. After travelling over his vast diocese, comprising the whole State of Indiana and eastern Illinois, Bishop Bruté visited France, where he secured priests and funds for the erection of churches and schools in his needy diocese.
Bishop Bruté left no published work except some ephemeral contributions, which, over the pseudonym "Vincennes", appeared in various journals, notably the Cincinnati "Catholic Telegraph". It is to be regretted that he did not write an autobiography, for which his Memoranda, notes, and Diary seem a preparation. They teem with interest, and show him to have been the friend of famous men in France. Conspicuous among the number was de Lamennais, whom he tried to reconcile with the Church both by his letters from this country, as well as by conferring with him personally during one of his visits to France, but without success.
Bayley, Momoirs of Bishop Bruté (New York, 1865); White, Life of Mother Seton (Baltimore, 1879), VIII, 314; O'Gorman, American Church History (New York, 1895), IX, xxiv, 394; Shea, History of the Catholic Church in the United States (New York, 1890), III, xv, 640; Alerding, History of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Vincennes (Indianapolis, 1888), 124; Bruté de Remur, Vie de Mgr. Bruté de Remur, premier eveque de Vincennes (Rennes, 1887).
Michael F. Dinneen.