During the American Revolution, Gibault sided with the rebels. On July 20, 1778, he persuaded the people of Vincennes to pledge loyalty to the United States and to turn over their fort to George Rogers Clark. Gibault assumed leadership of the parish after the war.
A bronze statue of Gibault, “Patriot Priest of the Old Northwest,” stands in front of the church to mark his role in the capture of the Northwest Territory from the British. In 1970, Pope Paul VI elevated the church to the rank of basilica due to its religious and historic significance.
The parish’s earliest written record is from April 21, 1749. Its first building was a log shelter with bark roof, replaced twice before the current red brick structure went up in 1826.
Located steps away from the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, the church is open daily for self-guided tours and for group tours by appointment with the Vincennes/Knox County Convention & Visitors Bureau (800-886-6443). Next to the church is the French and Indian Cemetery, which contains mostly unmarked graves of 4,000 residents of early Vincennes.
Andrea Neal is a teacher at St. Richard’s Episcopal School in Indianapolis and adjunct scholar with the Indiana Policy Review Foundation. Contact her at email@example.com.