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Diocese of Marquette

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The Diocese comprises the upper peninsula and the adjacent islands of the State of Michigan, U.S.A. The Jesuit Fathers, Raymbault and Jogues, were the first priests to step on Michigan soil at Sault Ste. Marie, 1641, but all they did was to plant a large cross on the bank of St. Marys River. Père René Ménard, on his way to Wisconsin, arrived in that region during October, 1660; overtaken by the cold weather he spent the winter at L'Anse amidst great hardships. His efforts at converting the resident Indians were crowned with little success and he departed in July, 1661. He perished afterwards in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin. On 1 September, 1665, Father Claude Allouez passed the Sault on his way to La Pointe du St. Esprit. After two years of incessant labour he returned to Quebec and pointed out to his superior the necessity of establishing a mission at Sault Ste. Marie, where Indian tribes were in the habit of gathering. The superior consented to the plan, appointing Father Marquette to the new mission. He left Montreal 21 April, 1668. With the help of willing hands, Indian and French, he erected a stockaded house and chapel. In 1669 Allouez came again to Quebec, this time asking permission to establish a mission at Green Bay, Wisconsin. To avoid further long journeys, the well-experienced missionary Father Claude Dablon was appointed superior of the western missions. Arriving at the Sault he sent Allouez to Green Bay and Marquette to La Pointe, while he himself remained at the Sault. The following year he spent the winter at Michillimackinac, building a chapel there. This chapel was built on the St. Ignace side where Father Marquette took up his residence in the summer of 1671, and remained in charge of the Indian tribes there until 17 May, 1673. He died 18 May, 1675. Two years later the Kiskakons brought his bones to St. Ignace, where they were reinterred beneath the floor of the new chapel, built in 1674 by Father Henry Nouvel and his associate, Father Philip Pierson. In 1683 Jean Enjalran became superior and Pierre Bailloquet his assistant. The French post, instead of protecting and helping the mission, became its ruin. Father Etienne de Carheil, who succeeded to the mission in 1686, raised his voice in vigorous protest to the Governor-General Frontenac against the greed and lust of the traders, the garrisons, and their commanders. The appointment as commander of the St. Ignace post of Sieur Antoine* de la Motte Cadillac increased these evils. Comte de Frontenac died in 1698 and was succeeded by Louis Hector de Callières, who granted Cadillac permission to establish a fort at Detroit. In a short time he coaxed the greater number of the Indians to Detroit. The fathers saw that it was useless to expend their energies upon the very worst of the Indians and French. With the sanction of the superior, Carheil and his faithful companion Joseph Jacques Marest stripped the chapel of its portable ornaments and, to save it from desecration, reduced it to ashes (1703). Carheil returned to Quebec; Marest went to the Sioux. Besides these missionaries the following Jesuit Fathers laboured at the Sault and Mackinac prior to the abandonment of the two missions: Gabriel Druillettes, Louis André, Pierre Bailloquet, and Charles Albanel. The Sault mission was not revived until 1834.

Cadillac was unable to hold the red man in the lower part of the state. As soon as he ceased to offer the Indians material inducements, they commenced to move back in small and large parties just as they had left. The government could not afford to leave them without any supervision, so they re-manned the fort and asked the Jesuits to take up their labours again. Father Marest was the first to return and take up his quarters in the old mission. Until 1741 only a temporary establishment was maintained. In 1712, under De Louvigny, the French built the fort across the Straits, in the neighbourhood of the present Mackinaw City. Gradually relations between the missionaries and the government again became normal. About the year 1741 a chapel and dwelling for the missionary were built within the stockaded fort. In 1761 the English succeeded the French. Their unpopularity brought on the Pontiac massacre, 2 June, 1763. In 1779 Major De Peyster commenced a substantial stone fort on Mackinac Island. The chapel in the old fort was taken down and hauled over the ice and re-erected. The island became a great trading post and the gateway to western civilization. Father Du Jaunay attended the mission for a quarter of a century, but with the removal of the church to the island the Jesuits seem to have given up the control of it. After that regular and secular priests had charge of it, at times they were stationary and then again only paid it an occasional visit. Among them were Père Guibault, 1775; Père Payet, 1787; Père Le Dru, 1794. Father Michael Levadoux, 1796, was the first to come under the jurisdiction of an American prelate, Bishop Carroll. By the treaty of Paris, 3 Sept., 1783, Mackinac became the possession of the United States. The British, however, did not evacuate till October, 1796. Major Henry Burbeck took possession of it. On 29 June, 1799, Father Gabriel Richard came to the island. He received his jurisdiction from the bishop of Baltimore, but 8 April, 1808, the Diocese of Bardstown was erected and Michigan came under the jurisdiction of Bishop Flaget. Again, when the Diocese of Cincinnati was established, 19 June, 1821, Michigan was included in its territory. Rt. Rev. Edward Fenwick was the first bishop to visit Upper Michigan. Upon the death of this saintly bishop, Detroit was created an episcopal see (1833) and Frederic Rézé became its first ordinary. During the first National Council in May, 1852, the Fathers recommended that Upper Michigan be made a vicariate Apostolic. By a brief of 29 July, 1853, Pius IX disjoined the territory from Detroit and under the same date appointed Frederic Baraga its vicar apostolic with the title of Bishop of Amyzonia in partibus. He took up his residence in Sault Ste. Marie from which the vicariate and later the diocese took its name. Bishop Baraga found three churches and two priests in his vicariate, but after three years of administration his report showed not only an increase and permanency of missions but vast possibilities in development so that the Holy See did not hesitate to raise the vicariate to the dignity of a diocese, conferring at the same time upon Baraga the title of Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie. The city was at the extreme east end of the diocese, so that, when many important missions developed in the west end, the question of moving the see to a more accessible place naturally suggested itself. The choice fell upon the town of Marquette and the Holy See sanctioned the removal 23 October, 1865, enjoining that the old name be retained together with the new one, hence the name of the diocese: Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette. Since the elevation of Milwaukee to an archdiocese (1875) it has belonged to that province. The bishops of Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Hamilton, Canada, had ceded jurisdiction to Bishop Baraga over the missions, mostly Indian, adjoining his territory. Thus the northern portion of Lower Michigan, the regions around Lake Superior throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota from Port Arthur to Michipicoten and the Sault, were attended by him and his missionaries while he ruled the diocese. Bishop Baraga died 19 January, 1868. (See FREDERIC BARAGA.) His countryman Ignatius Mrak became his successor. He was consecrated 9 February, 1869, resigned in 1877, was transferred to Antinoë, in partibus, died 2 January, 1901. John Vertin became the third bishop. He was consecrated 14 September, 1879; died 26 February 1899. The fourth bishop was chosen in the person of Frederick Eis. He was born 20 January, 1843, at Arbach, Diocese of Trier, Germany, the youngest of four children. In 1855 his parents emigrated to America and settled first at Calvary, Wisconsin, but later removed to Minnesota and from there went to Rockland, Michigan, where the diligence and talents of the future bishop attracted the attention of the pioneer missionary, Martin Fox, who at once took a lively interest in him. Civil war broke up most of the colleges and young Frederick went from St. Francis, Wis., to Joliet, Canada, to complete his studies. He was ordained by Bishop Mrak, 30 October, 1870. Filling various important pastorates, he was made, upon the death of Bishop Vertin, administrator of the diocese and Leo XIII raised him to the episcopate, 7 June, 1899. His consecration took place at Marquette 24 August, 1899.

Early missionaries

Jean Dejean, Francis Vincent Badin, brother of Stephen Theodore Badin, the first priest ordained in the U. S., Samuel Mazzuchelli, Francis Pierz, Francis Haetscher, C.SS.R., F. J. Bonduel, Dominic Du Ranquet, S.J., August Kohler, S.J., G. B. Weikamp, O.S.F., Richard Baxter, S.J., Otto Skolla, O.S.F., Andrew Piret, P. Point, S.J., B. Pedelupe, S.J., Jean B. Menet, S.J., 1846, the first stationary Jesuit missionary since 1703, J. D. Chonne, S.J., Martin Fox, Edward Jacker, who discovered in St. Ignace the site of the old Jesuit chapel and Marquette's grave, John Cebul, Gerhard Terhorst, Honoratus Bourion, and John F. Chambon, S.J.


Bishop Baraga found in his diocese three churches and two priests. He left 15 priests, 21 churches, 16 stations, 4 religious institutions. Bishop Mrak left: 20 priests, 27 churches, 3 charitable institutions, 3 academies, 20,000 population. Bishop Vertin left: 62 priests, 56 churches with pastors, 24 mission churches, 64 stations, 3 chapels, 1 academy, 20 parochial schools with 5440 pupils, 1 orphan asylum, 4 hospitals, 60,000 population. Present status: 85 priests, 67 churches with pastors, 37 mission churches, 23 chapels, 104 stations, 1 academy, 24 parochial schools with 6650 pupils, 1 orphan asylum, 4 hospitals, 95,000 population.

Religious communities

Orders of men: Jesuits, Franciscans (3 houses), Premonstratensians. Orders of women: Sisters of St. Joseph (St. Louis, Mo.), 5 houses; Sisters of St. Francis (Peoria), 3 houses; Sisters of Notre Dame (Milwaukee), 3 houses; Sisters of St. Joseph (Concordia, Kans.), 2 houses; Sisters of St. Agnes (Fond du Lac, Wis.), 3 houses; Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity (Alverno, Wis.), 2 houses; Sisters of Loretto (Toronto, Canada); Ursuline Nuns; Little Franciscan Sisters of Mary (Baie St. Paul, Quebec).


REZEK, History of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette (Houghton, Mich., 1906); THWAITES, The Jesuit Relations. (Cleveland, 1901); VERWYST, Life of Bishop Baraga (Milwaukee, 1900); KELTON, Annals of Fort Mackinac (Detroit, 1890); JACKER, Am. Quarterly Review, I, 1876; History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Chicago, 1883); Acta et Decreta, Collectio Lacensis. III; Berichte der Leopoldinen Stiftung im Kaiserthume Qesterreich (Vienna, 1832-65); Diocesan Archives. Marquette, Mich.; Catholic Directory.

About this page

APA citation. Rezek, A. (1910). Diocese of Marquette. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Rezek, Antoine. "Diocese of Marquette." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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