Simon William Gabriel Bruté (1779-1839), American prelate, first Roman Catholic bishop of the diocese of Vincennes, Indiana, U.S.A., was born at Rennes, France, on the 20th of March 1779, his father, Simon Gabriel Guillaume Bruté de Remur (1729-1786), being superintendent of the crown lands in Brittany. He was educated for the medical profession, but entered the Sulpician Seminary of Paris in November 1803, was ordained priest in 1808, refused the post of chaplain to Napoleon, was professor of theology in the Diocesan Seminary at Rennes in 1808-1810, and in August 1810 settled in Baltimore, Maryland, whither his long general interest in missions, and particularly his acquaintance with Bishop Flaget of Kentucky, had drawn him. After teaching for two years (1810-1812) in Baltimore, he was sent to Mount St Mary's College, Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he remained until 1815, acting both as teacher and as pastor. He next visited France in the interest of American missions, and on his return in November 1815, became president of St Mary's College, Baltimore. In 1818 he resumed his labours at Emmitsburg, and from this time until 1834 he held an almost unparalleled place in the American church, being constantly consulted by clergy throughout the country, besides lecturing, teaching, preaching and caring for his parish.
The see of Vincennes was created in 1834; and Bruté, nominated its first bishop and consecrated in the same year, went to France for financial aid, with which he built his cathedral and several useful institutions. Here, too, he was professor of theology in his seminary, teacher in one of his academies, as well as pastor and bishop. Interesting stories are told of the high respect in which he was held by the neighbouring Indians, who called him "chief of the Black robes" and "man of the true prayer." He died in Vincennes, Indiana, on the 26th of June 1839. His great influence on the entire church, his wonderful success in planning, financing, and carrying out necessary ecclesiastical reforms, and the constructive and executive ability he displayed in his diocese, make him one of the foremost Catholic emigrants to the United States. He wrote Brief Notes on his experiences in France in 1793, in which he describes state persecution of Catholic priests.
See James Roosevelt Bayley, The Memoirs of the Rt. Rev. Simon William Gabriel Bruté, First Bishop of Vincennes (New York, 1861), containing much autobiographical matter.