The oldest congregation in Indiana is the parish of St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes, Indiana. The research that I have done indicates that in 1732 a French officer named Sieur de Vincennes was the one who established a fort on the banks of the Wabash River. Shortly thereafter, a settlement made up of French Canadian fur traders and Piankeshaw Indians rose up. By 1734, Jesuit missionary priests visited. Then in 1748, there was a first church that was small and made of wood and mud daubing. A second church was built of upright hewn timber in 1786.
The present St. Francis Xavier Church was copied from the cathedral at Bardstown, Kentucky and started being built in 1826. It became the cathedral of the Diocese of Vincennes. It's a simple but beautiful church. Inside, its pillars are made of giant yellow poplar trees. It contains lovely mural of the Crucifixion, Madonna and Child, and the patron saints of the four bishops of Vincennes [Simon, Celestine, Stephen, and Maurice].
The High alter dates to 1904, and the dramatic stained glass windows came from Columbus, Ohio in 1908.
Four bishops of Vincennes are buried in the crypt. One of these bishops was Simon Brute whose personal collection of books fill the library behind the church.
Admission Fee: Donations of $.50/adult and $.25 student are requested for tours.
NO TOURS DURING MASS, but you are welcome to join the church during services.
My four photographs show the outside of the Old Cathedral [Basilica of St. Francis Xavier] from the front and the back. It also shows an example of a statue inside as well as a sample of a stained-glass window.
The Old Cathedral Library & Museum is located across the courtyard from the Old Cathedral, and it is purported to be the oldest library in Indiana. It was founded in 1794. Rev. Benedict Joseph Flaget [pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Vincennes organized it.
Because Simon Gabriel Brute de Remur's personal collection makes up a good deal of the collections here, [he was Bishop of the new Diocese of Vincennes, which included all of Indiana and the easter one third of Illinois.], the Library is named after him.
Note: The original library building  still stands between the Old Cathedral & the rectory. The present building was erected in 1968 and dedicated on May 18, 1969, and it was made possible by Eli Lilly and the Eli Lilly Endowment, Inc., of Indianapolis. (information on the plaque on the building).
It is quite unique in that it contains twelve thousand rare volumes, some of which date back to 1319! Only 10% of the books/documents are on display at a time, and they store the rest in an air-conditioned vault on the lower level.
There are documents that are quite important to the history of the Catholic church in America and concerning the exploration of the Old Northwest.
Admission: For a tour of the museum
$1.00 fee for adults
.50 for children up to 12 years of age
1:00-4:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday (after Memorial Day until the Friday before Labor Day)
If you wish to use the library or research these collections, you need to contact the library at the number listed.
I feel that it is a very good idea if you visit the Vincennes/Knox Couty Convention/Visitor Bureau when you first arrive in Vincennes, Indiana. It's a convenient location of North Third Street and within walking distance of almost all of the activities. I parked my car on a side street, less than 1/2 a block from the Visitor Bureau.
This is a spot to gather up as many brochures and pamphlets and maps as you need. The informative people who work here are more than happy to assist you.
A bonus for us was that we were each given a bag of Caramel Corn from the famed Charlie's Caramel Corn & Candy Shop Yum, and Yum again!
We were given specific directions and hints of where to eat lunch. All the information that we received was "spot on"!
You are requested to stop first at the Visitor Center. This is very important because you cannot get into the Memorial unless you have a ticket. The tickets are purchased at the Visitor's Center.
Her, you will also find great information, exhibits [Photo #1], a film, [Photo #2], brochures, and a bookstore.
I should note right here that the 30-minute movie is outstanding, and the bookstore is filled with excellent books...I purchased "Alice of Old Vincennes", which I'm am just finishing tonight.
When my sister and I were there, we were fortunate to have timed it perfectly. On that particular day, there were several large groups of grade school children visiting, but we were there between groups. Thus, we had the film to ourselves as well as the Memorial.
The staff here is quite friendly and helpful; they can answer questions and then help you plan your visit.
The Visitor Center is open daily [except Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1].
For the disabled, this entire place is accessible.
The featured structure of this park is certainly the massive granite memorial commemorating the conquest of the Old Northwest Territory. It's located on the site of the former British Fort Sackville. This is where Colonel George Rogers Clark and his meager army of frontiersmen and Frenchmen captured the fort. . This is a very important date because it is when the United States north of the Ohio River was born.
Supposedly, the George Rogers Clark Memorial is the largest memorial [outside of Washington, D.C.] in the USA. And what a memorial it is with huge murals of this even accompanied by a six-minute audio tape.
During the 150th anniversary celebration of the American Revolution, the citizens of Vincennes, Knox County, and the State of Indiana wished to commemorate the vast accomplishments of George Rogers Clark. Congress created the George Rogers Clark Sesquicentennial Commission to build a memorial to celebrate this accomplishment.
As you can see from the photograph, this memorial was built in classic Greek style with granite exterior that is encircled by 16 columns that support a massive round roof. [Photo #1]
Inside is a bronze statue of George Rogers Clark standing on a marble pedestal.[Photo #2]
A circular glass skylight does illuminate the inside. [Photo #4]
Seven murals are used to depict Clark's role in the development of the region west of the Appalachians. [Photos # 3 and 5]
I copied down what was engrave above these murals all the way around:
"Great Things Have Been Effected By a Few Men Well Conducted. Our course is Just, Our Country Will Be Grateful"
I was personally thrilled to see this wonderful site/sight. It's massive, beautiful, and symbolizes a bold adventure during the Revolutionary War.
Between 4000-5000 bodies rest here, including early French settlers, Cathedral priests, soldiers who died during the battle at Fort Sackville, slaves, Cathedral parishioners and other early residents of Vincennes. Almost all of the graves are mass graves and unmarked, although there are 10 small stones commemorating war dead as well as these two old stones that date back to 1800.
The George Roger Clark Memorial and visitors center. Roam around the grounds and stroll down along the Wabash River.
This is the site of one of the most amazing battles of the Revolutionary War.