Baraga Unveiling, Sep. 1935

Baraga Unveiling, Sep. 1935
Bishop James A. McFadden of Cleveland and Archbishop Gregory Rozuran of Ljubljana place a memorial wreath on the bust of Bishop Baraga on September 22, 1935.

Bishop Frederic Baraga was one of the first, and perhaps also one of the most fascinating, Slovenians to come to America. Born in 1897 near the village of Dobrnic in what was then the Habsburg Monarchy, Baraga attended law school in Vienna before being ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1823.

He traveled to America in 1830 at the request of Bishop Edward Fenwick of Cincinnati, Ohio. Baraga was sent to an Indian mission in Michigan and eventually went on to publish the first book ever written in the Ottowa language. His work also took him further north to Wisconsin, where he led a mission of Chippewa Indians.

The "snowshoe priest", so called for the hundreds of miles of snowy American wilderness he traversed on these, was elevated to bishop in 1853 and became the first bishop of the diocese of Marquette, Michigan. By this time, he spoke 8 languages and had published a Chippewa language dictionary and grammar book. He dedicated much of his time in Marquette trying to ease tensions among the diverse Michigan population, which included Indians, French settlers, and German and Irish immigrants arriving to work in the growing mining industry. He died in Marqueete in 1868.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
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