Michael Portier

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Bishop Michael Portier
Bishop of Mobile
Bishop Michael Portier.jpg
Church Catholic Church
See Diocese of Mobile
In office May 15, 1829 – May 14, 1859
Successor John Quinlan
Ordination May 16, 1818
Consecration August 26, 1825
Personal details
Born (1795-09-07)September 7, 1795
Montbrison, France
Died May 14, 1859(1859-05-14) (aged 63)
Mobile, Alabama, USA
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Styles of
Michael Portier
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style His Excellency
Religious style Monsignor
Posthumous style not applicable

Bishop Michael Portier (September 7, 1795, Montbrison, France – May 14, 1859, Mobile, Alabama) was a Roman Catholic bishop and the first Bishop of Mobile. He immigrated to the United States in 1817. After completing his studies at St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, Maryland, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Louisiana and the Two Floridas, by Bishop Louis William Valentine Dubourg, on May 16, 1818. Eight years later, on August 26, 1825, he was consecrated titular Bishop of Oleno by Bishop Joseph Rosati, and became the only Vicar Apostolic of the new Vicariate of Alabama and the Floridas.

At the time of his accession he was the only clergyman in the vicariate and had only three parishes, Mobile, St. Augustine, and Pensacola. Bishop Portier began his administration by riding through his vicariate, offering the Holy Eucharist, preaching, and administering the Sacraments as he went.

He sailed for Europe in 1829, in quest of assistants, and returned with a few seminarians and a priest, Father Mathias Loras. On May 15, 1829, the vicariate was raised to the Diocese of Mobile, and Bishop Portier was made its first bishop. His cathedral was a little church twenty feet wide by fifty feet deep, his residence a still smaller two-roomed frame structure. A new cathedral was begun in 1837, and on December 8, 1850, Bishop Portier consecrated the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Also in 1850, the eastern portion of Florida was detached from the Diocese of Mobile and annexed to the newly created Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah.

In 1830, Bishop Portier established Spring Hill College, and named Father Mathias Loras its head. Loras served in that role until he was consecrated Bishop of Dubuque, December 10, 1837, by Bishop Portier, who also consecrated another president of Spring Hill, the Rev. John Stephen Bazin, third Bishop of Vincennes on October 24, 1847.

In 1833 he secured from the Visitation convent, Georgetown, Washington, D.C., a colony of nuns who established the Visitation Convent and girls school in Mobile. He brought the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, from France, about 1847, and the Daughters of Charity, from Emmitsburg, Maryland, to manage orphan asylums for boys and girls respectively. One of his last acts was the foundation of a hospital at Mobile, presently known as Providence Hospital, administered, then and now, by the Daughters of Charity.

He died May 14, 1859, aged 63, and is entombed in the crypt of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile.

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Mobile
Succeeded by
John Quinlan