Category Archives: Simon Brute

Saints, Blesseds, and Founders in Emmitsburg

This is part of a yearlong series about the early days of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s commemorating the 200th anniversary of the death of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, foundress of the community.  In 1850, the Emmitsburg-based Sisters united with the international community of the French Daughters of Charity.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first North American-born saint recognized by the global Catholic church.  The Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives in Emmitsburg is the largest holder of writings and artifacts of Mother Seton in the world.

Brick and wrapper from Seton home on State Street, New York City

However, Mother Seton is not the only one represented in the collection recognized as a holy person by Rome, nor is she the only foundress of a community in the collections.  We can provide resources and information about a number of other individuals of this caliber!

Father Simon Bruté was Mother Seton’s spiritual director, a Sulpician priest who later became the first Bishop of Vincennes (now the Archdiocese of Indianapolis).  His cause for canonization was opened in 2005, and he was accepted as a Servant of God.  Materials of his in the archives include correspondence with Mother Seton and her family, spiritual writings, the bands he wore for his consecration as a Bishop, and his many drawings and sketches.

“Eternity, Jesus,” Father Simon Bruté, January 11, 1821

Saint Father John Neumann, CSsR,was Archbishop of Philadelphia from 1852 until his death in 1860.  He was canonized in 1977 and was instrumental in bringing the Daughters of Charity to St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum.

Father John Neumann to Rev. Mariano Maller, C.M., Provincial Director, July 29, 1852

Canonized Popes Many Daughters have been lucky enough to meet the Successors to St. Peter, sometimes as part of a crowd, and sometimes in more serious business.  The most notable occasion relating to the community’s history was Saint Pope Paul VI, who canonized Mother Seton in 1975, thus making Mother Seton’s canonization bull itself a relic of a saint.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta – often still known as Mother Teresa – made a three-day tour of the United States in 1975.  During her visit, she visited the Shrine of the just recently canonized Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton alongside her more formal trips to the United Nations and Washington, D.C.  The archives contains photos of her visit.

Almeide Maxis Duchemin – later known as Mother Theresa Duchemin – was a student of St. Joseph’s Academy from 1819-1823 from around ages 9-13.  She became a founding member of the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore and became the first African American Superior General of a white religious majority community when she co-founded the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  The archives contains records of her schooling at the Academy.

Mothers Elizabeth Boyle and Margaret George were companions of Mother Seton and members of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s who founded their own communities; the Sisters of Charity of New York in 1846 and the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 1852, respectively. 

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Filed under Canonization, Emmitsburg, Mother Theresa Duchemin, Paul VI, Simon Brute, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Sisters of Charity of New York, Teresa of Calcutta

Rev. Bruté’s Image of Emmitsburg

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Rev. Simon Bruté served as Mother Seton’s Spiritual Director from 1812 until her death in 1821.  Many of his sketches show Mother Seton, the landscapes, Mt. St. Mary’s University, and the town of Emmitsburg.  As a document of local history, his map of the town square, written in tight, neat handwriting, show accurate distances to other towns and, perhaps most importantly, an accurate picture of families and landowners in 1823.  Bruté also left a 14 page manuscript describing the town and landscape, mostly in his native French (although the archives has translations).  Rev. Bruté became Bishop Bruté, the first Bishop of Vincennes, now Indianapolis.  The Archive of the Daughters of Charity, Province of St. Louise archive has a 6 box collection on Bishop Bruté.  Despite his importance, most of his manuscripts have been scattered or lost in a fire at the Benedictine Monastery of St. Meinard, IN.¹  Rev. Edmund J. Schmitt was working on a biography of Bruté before his own death, and his unfinished research notes are located at the University of Notre Dame.²

  1. Catholic Historical Review, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Jan., 1918) pp. 492-494.
  2. “Edmund J. Schmitt Papers,” University of Notre Dame Archives (UNDA),  http://archives.nd.edu/findaids/ead/html/SCT.htm

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Death of Elizabeth Ann Seton, January 4, 1821

Sketch of Elizabeth Ann Seton

Sketch of Elizabeth Ann Seton by Simon Gabriel Bruté. Handwritten text at the top reads, “Pray for me.” Handwritten text at the bottom reads, “Mother Seton on her death bed 1/2 hour after she had expired on the 4th of January 1821.” Image and all text used with permission of the Daughters of Charity Province of St. Louise Archives.

Account of Simon Bruté taken from Mother Seton: Notes by Rev. Simon Gabriel Bruté (Bishop of Vincennes) (Emmitsburg, 1884), p.29-32.

January 4, 1821. “Ask Heaven to praise and love Him” my last words to Mother, at four o’clock in the afternoon, were my last indeed, and of any priest on earth to her, to day, at two after midnight she removed to her eternal Home.

They had called Sister Mary Xavier, the Assistant some time before, as she seemed dying. She was wholly conscious but so often deceived, seemed not to believe it was yet the time. However, after she had welcome in a pleasant manner Sister Mary Xavier, by: “Is it you Xavier?” she united with their prayers, which they repeated by intervals, and it being manifest she was dying, her poor daughter Josephine began to cry aloud in a distressing manner, and could not restrain herself, but rather had such convulsions as made the Sisters afraid she would die before her mother. So they sent for me, as much for her as for Mother, whom they considered so long and fully prepared.

The dying mother must have well noticed that exceeding grief of her daughter, but happily seemed not to be disturbed by it, being we hope long tried and strengthened that side [sic]. She soon could not breathe and ceased to live.

I arrived quarter of an hour after she had expired.

Towards midnight, one of the nurses tells me, offering her a drink she refused a moment, “in hope,” she said, “that on the morning she might be granted one Communion more,” – (like her Anina) – The night of Sunday last, after the Viaticum of Saturday, being extremely thirsty towards midnight the same nurse, Sister Susan, urged her to drink.

“O, no!” she said. “Eternity, let us mind that,” and she kept on for one communion more.
Last night, amidst the various prayers said for her she began the prayer of Pius VII – “May the most just, the most high, and the most amiable will of God be accomplished forever!” …

… She had about an hour of hard agony, then, ending sweetly — When Sister Xavier said: “Our Lord calls you!” she asked “Who?” as if not actually sensible of that call. Then she lowered her breathing, and died very gently, “as if to sleep,” said Sister Anastasia: and not a struggle or gasp afterword.

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Filed under Elizabeth Ann Seton, Simon Brute, Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's