Michael Heiss

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The Most Reverend

Michael Heiss
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Archbishop Michael Heiss.jpg
See Milwaukee
Installed September 7, 1881
Term ended March 26, 1890
Predecessor John Henni
Successor Frederick Katzer
Other posts Bishop of La Crosse (1868–80)
Coadjutor Archbishop of Milwaukee (1880–81)
Ordination October 18, 1840
Consecration September 6, 1868
Personal details
Born (1818-04-12)April 12, 1818
Pfahldorf, Bavaria, Germany
Died March 26, 1890(1890-03-26) (aged 71)
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Denomination Catholic Church

Michael Heiss (April 12, 1818 – March 26, 1890) was a German-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who served as the first Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse (1868–80) and the second Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (1881–90).


Early years[edit]

Michael Heiss was born in Pfahldorf, Bavaria (part of present-day Kipfenberg), to Joseph and Gertrude (née Frei) Heiss.[1] He received Confirmation when he was only two years old because his parents feared they would be without a bishop for a prolonged period of time due to tension between church and state.[1] He entered a Latin school at age 9, and later graduated from the gymnasium of Neuburg in 1835.[2]

Heiss then entered the University of Munich, where he originally studied law but switched to theology after deciding to join the priesthood.[3] He completed his studies at the ecclesiastical seminary in Eichstätt.[2]

Ordination and ministry[edit]

He was ordained a priest by Bishop Karl-August von Reisach on October 18, 1840.[4] Because, at age 22, he was younger than the age requirement for ordination, he was granted a dispensation by Pope Gregory XVI.[1]

Heiss served as a curate in Raitenbuch and afterwards in Pleinfeld.[3] In December 1842, he immigrated to the United States, where he became pastor of Mother of God Church in Covington, Kentucky.[5] He remained in Covington until 1844, when he was made secretary to John Henni, the newly appointed Archbishop of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[6] He erected St. Mary's Church in Milwaukee, and served as its first pastor with his charge extending over an area of 52 square miles.[5] In 1856, he was named the first rector of St. Francis Seminary, serving for 12 years.[2]

Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin[edit]

Heiss was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse on March 3, 1868, and was ordained a bishop on September 6, 1868.

Archbishop of Milwaukee, Wisconsin[edit]

On March 14, 1880, Bishop Heiss was appointed coadjutor Archbishop of Milwaukee. On September 7, 1881, he succeeded Archbishop John Henni on his death as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He was an opponent of the Americanist heresy.

Archbishop Heiss died in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and was buried in St. Francis, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, in a chapel at St. Francis de Sales Seminary.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Blied, Benjamin Joseph (1955). Three Archbishops of Milwaukee. 
  2. ^ a b c Shea, John Gilmary (1886). The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the United States. New York: Catholic Publications. 
  3. ^ a b The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography XII. New York: James T. White & Company. 1904. 
  4. ^ "Archbishop Michael Heiss". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. 
  5. ^ a b "Milwaukee". Catholic Encyclopedia. 
  6. ^ "Archbishop Michael Heiss". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee. 

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Henni
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Succeeded by
Frederick Katzer
Preceded by
Coadjutor Bishop of Milwaukee
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Bishop of La Crosse
Succeeded by
Kilan Caspar Flasch