Frederic Baraga

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Venerable
Frederic Baraga
Bishop of Sault Sainte Marie and Marquette
Friderik Baraga restoration.jpg
Baraga in episcopal choir dress, holding his Dictionary of the Otchipwe Language,
in a photograph taken by Mathew Brady
(ca. 1853–1860)
Native name Friderik Irenej Baraga
Province Detroit
See Sault Sainte Marie, later Sault Sainte Marie and Marquette
Appointed January 9, 1857
Term ended January 19, 1868
Successor Ignatius Mrak
Orders
Ordination September 21, 1823
by Augustin Johann Joseph Gruber
Consecration November 1, 1853
by John Baptist Purcell
Personal details
Birth name Friderik Irenej Baraga
Born (1797-06-29)June 29, 1797
Mala Vas, Duchy of Carniola, Habsburg Monarchy
Died January 19, 1868(1868-01-19) (aged 70)
Marquette, Michigan,
United States
Buried St. Peter Cathedral, Marquette, Michigan,
United States
Nationality Habsburg Monarchy
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
Alma mater University of Vienna
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}

The Venerable Frederic Irenaeus Baraga (Slovene: Friderik Irenej Baraga), was a Slovenian Roman Catholic missionary to the United States and a grammarian of Native American languages. He became the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette, Michigan,[1] originally sited at Sault Sainte Marie, which he led for 15 years.

His letters about his missionary work were published widely in Europe, inspiring Saint John Neumann and Father Francis Xavier Pierz to immigrate to the United States.[2]

Early life[edit]

Baraga was born in the manor house at Mala Vas (German: Kleindorf) no. 16 near the Carniolan village of Dobrnič, in what was then Lower Carniola, a province of the Duchy of Carniola in the Habsburg Monarchy. Today it is a part of the municipality of Trebnje in Slovenia.[3]

Baraga grew up during the Napoleonic Wars, when France had taken over the Slovene Lands from the Austrian Empire for a time. As a result, the official language of instruction in his schools changed several times during his childhood between Slovenian and German. In addition, Latin and Greek were required subjects for all students. Thus, by age 16, Frederic Baraga was multilingual—a skill that would serve him well in later life.

Priesthood[edit]

Baraga attended law school at the University of Vienna prior to entering seminary. At age 26, he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest on September 21, 1823 in the Cathedral of St. Nicholas by Augustin Johann Joseph Gruber, the Bishop of Ljubljana. As a young priest, he was a staunch opponent of Jansenism. During this time, he wrote a spiritual book in Slovene entitled Dušna Paša (Spiritual Sustenance).

In 1830 Baraga answered the request of Bishop Edward Fenwick of Cincinnati for priests to aid in ministering to his growing flock, which included a large amount of mission territory. A year later he was sent to the Ottawa Indian mission at Arbre Croche (present-day Cross Village, Michigan) to finish his mastery of the Ottawa language, which he had begun in Cincinnati. It is one of the Algonquian languages.

Baraga Street is located near the Catholic Church on Madeline Island. Baraga once operated a mission on the Island.

In 1837, he published Otawa Anamie-Misinaigan, the first book written in the Ottawa language, which included a Catholic catechism and prayer book. After a brief stay at a mission in present-day Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1835 Baraga moved north to minister to the Ojibway (Chippewa) Indians at La Pointe, Wisconsin, at a former Jesuit mission on Lake Superior.

In 1843 Baraga founded a mission at L'Anse, Michigan. During this time he earned the nickname “the Snowshoe Priest” because he would travel hundreds of miles each year on snowshoes during the harsh winters.[4] He worked to protect the Indians from being forced to relocate, as well as publishing a dictionary and grammar of the Ojibway language. Although these works have important historical value, they are not recommended as basic resources for the language today.[5]

Through the texts Baraga published in his missionary years, the Slovenes learned about aspects of Native American culture and the United States.[6]

Bishop[edit]

Baraga was elevated to bishop by Pope Pius IX and consecrated November 1, 1853, in Cincinnati at Saint Peter in Chains Cathedral [7] by Archbishop John Purcell. He was the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, now the Diocese of Marquette.[8]

On July 27, 1852 he began to keep a diary, written in several languages (primarily German, but with English, French, Slovene, Chippewa, Latin, and Italian interspersed), preserving accounts of his missionary travels and his relationship with his sister Amalia. During this time, the area experienced a population explosion, as European immigrants were attracted to work in the copper and iron mines developed near Houghton, Ontonagon, and Marquette. This presented a challenge because he had few priests, and had to attend to the needs of immigrant miners and the Native Americans. Increased development and population encouraged the improvement of transportation on Lake Superior.

The only way to travel in winter was on snowshoes, which Baraga continued to do into his sixties. He was particularly challenged by the wide diversity of peoples in the region, which included the native inhabitants, ethnic French-Canadian settlers, and the new German and Irish immigrant miners.[4] Difficulties in recruiting staff arose because of many languages; while Baraga spoke eight languages fluently, he had trouble recruiting priests who could do the same.

Baraga traveled twice to Europe to raise money for his diocese. On one trip he was presented a jeweled cross and episcopal ring by the Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. The bishop later sold these for his missions.

Baraga wrote numerous letters to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith describing his missionary activities. The Society published them widely as examples of its missions in North America, and they were instrumental in inspiring both Saint John Neumann and Father Francis Xavier Pierz to come to the United States to work. In time, Baraga became renowned throughout Europe for his work. In his last ten years, his health gradually declined; he became intermittently deaf and suffered a series of strokes. He died January 19, 1868 in Marquette, Michigan.[4] He is buried there in the crypt beneath Cathedral of Saint Peter.[4]

Legacy and veneration[edit]

The Venerable Frederic Baraga is buried in St. Peter Cathedral, Marquette.

Baraga was declared venerable by Pope Benedict XVI on May 10, 2012.[9] His cause was opened in 1952 by Thomas Lawrence Noa, the diocese's eighth bishop, and the formal canonization process began in 1973.[4] The diocese planned to relocate his remains to a more accessible new chapel for veneration in the upper portion of the cathedral.[4] At the time of his veneration, the Vatican was investigating a possible miracle for beatification.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jamieson, Scott. "History of St. Peter Cathedral". Marquette, MI: St. Peter Cathedral. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ Kelly, Brian (29 September 2009). "The Snowshoe Priest: the Servant of God, Bishop Frederic Baraga". Catholicism.org. Bishop Baraga, Paternal Shepherd. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Staff. "Baraga, Frederic 1797–1868". Wisconsin History. Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Pope declares Bishop Baraga venerable". The Compass (Diocese of Green Bay newspaper). May 18, 2012. 
  5. ^ Staff. "Fr. Baraga's 1853 Ojibwe Dictionary". Wisconsin History (Wisconsin Historical Society). Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  6. ^ Mazi-Leskovar, Darja (May 2003). "Domestication and Foreignization in Translating American Prose for Slovenian Children". Meta: Translator's Journal (Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal) 48 (1–2): 250–265. ISSN 1492-1421. 
  7. ^ Chabot, Larry (January 2002). "On This Spot: The Baraga Legacy". Marquette Monthly. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  8. ^ Cheney, David M. (January 21, 2012). "Bishop Ireneus Frederic Baraga". Catholic Hierarchy. Self-published. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  9. ^ http://www.news.va/en/news/decrees-of-the-congregation-for-the-causes-of-sa-4
  10. ^ Mary Ellen Perkins (ed.). Discover Your Heritage: A Guide to Provincial Plaques in Ontario. Toronto: Ontario Heritage Foundation, 1989. ISBN 0920474500
  11. ^ "Bishop Baraga shrine", Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
  12. ^ Ellison, Garret (July 24, 2012). "Bronze statue of Bishop Frederic Baraga will be unveiled this evening in Cathedral Square". The Grand Rapids Press. OCLC 9975013. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Baraga, Frederic. The Diary of Bishop Frederic Baraga: First Bishop of Marquette, Michigan. Translated by Joseph Gregorich and Rev. Paul Prud'homme, S.J. (Great Lakes Books, 1990).
  • Lambert, Bernard J. Shepherd of the Wilderness: A Biography of Bishop Frederic Baraga. (Chicago:Franciscan Herald Press, 1974).
  • Ceglar, Charles A. Baragiana Collection. (Hamilton: Baragiana Publishing, 1991).

External links[edit]