Antonio Ravalli

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Antonio Ravalli (b. in Ferrara, Italy, 1812; d. at St. Mary's, Montana, USA, 2 October 1884) was an Italian Jesuit missionary, active in the western United States. In 1893 Ravalli County, Montana was named after him.[1]


He entered the Society of Jesus about 1833. With Fathers Louis Vercruyesse, Michael Accolti, and John Nobili, Brother Francis Huybrechts, and six sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame de Namur, he responded to Pierre-Jean De Smet's appeal for the American mission in 1843, arriving at Fort Vancouver, 5 August 1844, after a voyage of eight months. Having made a short stay at the mission of St. Paul on the Willamette River (Champoeg, Oregon), where he made a study of the English language and gave attention to the sick (being skilled in medicine), he joined Father Adrian Hoeck in the spring of 1845 at the mission of St. Ignatius among the Kalispel (Pend d'Oreille), on the upper Columbia River, Washington.

After some time he was transferred to the Flathead Mission of St. Mary's on Bitterroot River, western Montana, where he remained until the mission was temporarily abandoned on account of the hostile Blackfoot Indians in 1850. In 1854, he assumed charge of the Sacred Heart Mission established by Father Nicholas Point among the Coeur d'Alenes (Skitswish) of Northern Idaho. Here he designed and supervised the building of a church. With its altar and beautiful statues, carved by himself, it was described by a traveller as "a credit to any civilized country". Isaac Stevens, Governor of Washington Territory, who saw it in 1855, says in his official report: "The church was designed by the superior of the mission, Father Ravalli, a man of skill as an architect and, undoubtedly, judging from his well-thumbed books, of various accomplishments". In the general outbreak led by Yakima in 1856-67 his influence was largely instrumental in holding the northern tribes quiet.

In 1866 Nicholas Congiato, superior of the Rocky Mountain missions, established the old Mission of St. Mary's on the Bitter Root, among the Flathead Indians, and among those appointed to the station was Father Ravalli, who had been with it at its abandonment sixteen years before. Here he remained until his death.

Fifty years a Jesuit and forty years a missionary, one of the noblest men that ever laboured in the ranks of the Church in Montana, his fame stands very high in Montana, where a later generation knows more of him than even of Father de Smet. (Chittenden).

See also[edit]


  • Chittenden and Richardson, Life, Letters, and Trials of Father Pierre Jean de Smet (4 vols., 1905);
  • Shea, Catholic Missions (New York, 1854);
  • Stevens Report in Rept. of the Commissioner on Indian Affairs for 1855(Washington, 1856);
  • Article Flathead in Clark, Indian Sign Language (Philadelphia, 1855).


External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "article name needed". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.