Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Religious Studies


Department of Religious Studies


Blessed Mother Theodore (b. Anne-Therese) Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was beatified by the Catholic Church on 28 October 1998. Celestine de la Hailandiere was the second bishop of Vincennes, Indiana. The “time of trials” is a period of disputes and misunderstandings between the two which lasted from 1840 to 1847. It culminated with Mother Theodore locked in a parlor, excommunicated, and expelled from the diocese, and with Bishop Hailandiere resigning from the episcopacy. The purpose of the study is threefold: to promulgate the life story of Mother Theodore; to examine her spirituality; and to present an objective portrait of Bishop Hailandiere and the seven-year time of trials. Primary and secondary sources are utilized to situate the subjects contextually as nineteenth-century Catholics, first in Brittany and subsequently in Indiana. The French School of Spirituality, which influenced both subjects, is examined in detail. The time of trials 1840-1847, is presented from the perspectives of both Mother Theodore and Bishop Hailandiere. The external forces which influenced their decisions are analyzed to uncover possible motives and justification for the actions taken by the subjects. Most of the trials were clashes between the Rules and Constitution of the Sisters of Providence and the plan for the development of the Vincennes Diocese as conceived by Bishop Hailandiere. Yet, the time of trials is much more complex than a mere series of disagreements between two strong personalities. Both subjects were influenced by many external forces. When these forces—ecclesiastical, social, and cultural—are adequately considered, the period 1800-1860 emerges as unique and extraordinary in the history of the American Catholic Church. Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin and Bishop Celestine de la Hailandiere coped with these forces, and by their suffering, endurance, and strong faith in God, built the Catholic Church in Indiana solidly upon the foundation that had been laid by itinerant missionaries

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Copyright © 2001, author