Bishop of Quebec, born at Montreal, 3 March, 1763; died at Quebec, 4 Dec., 1822. He studied classics at Montreal and philosophy at Quebec, was appointed in 1783 secretary to Bishop Briand , and was ordained priest in 1786. In 1797 he was named vicar-general and chosen for coadjutor. The bulls having been delayed by the imprisonment and death of Pius VII, Plessis was only consecrated in 1801. He assumed the greater part of the administration, his superior remaining at Longueuil; by the latter's death in 1806 he became Bishop of Quebec. The programme of the oligarchy then in power comprised the organization of an exclusively Protestant school system; and the subjection of ecclesiastical influence to the royal supremacy and the governor's good pleasure, in the erection of parishes and the nomination of pastors. Plessis's aim was to obtain the civil recognition of bishop and clergy, without forfeiting any right or privilege of the Church. His title of Bishop of Quebec, assumed by all his predecessors before and since the Conquest, was odious to the officials and to the Anglican bishop. Plessis, by his firm yet deferential attitude, his prudence and moderation, and his loyalty to the Crown, removed all opposition. He wisely resisted every offer of temporal betterment to maintain the fulness of his spiritual jurisdiction. When the American Congress in 1812 declared war with England, Plessis aroused the loyalty of the French Canadians, who by remarkable victories, notably at Châteauguay, saved Canada to Great Britain. The bishop was honoured with a seat in the Legislative Council, his title and dignity officially recognized, and the creation of vicariates Apostolic in Upper Canada, Nova Scotia , and Prince Edward Island approved of. He succeeded in preventing the application of the odious monopolizing educational law called the "Royal Institution". An energetic and enlightened patron of education, he redeemed Nicolet College, generously contributing to reorganize, enlarge, and endow it; he likewise favoured the foundation of St-Hyacinthe College, whose regulations he wrote, and established a Latin school at St-Roch to prepare students for seminary or college.
Three times after his consecration he visited every parish in Lower Canada ; in 1811 and 1812 he travelled through the Maritime Provinces, and in 1816 to Upper Canada. Long since convinced of the necessity of dividing his immense diocese, he strove to create new sees. Nova Scotia was separated in 1817. To realize the formation of other dioceses in Upper Canada, in the North-West, in Prince Edward Island, and at Montreal, Plessis crossed the Atlantic in 1819 to negotiate with Rome and England. Anticipating the conclusion of the case pending before the British Government, Rome had made Quebec a metropolitan see, with two of the above-named for suffragans. The new archbishop successfully counteracted English susceptibilities, alarmed at his promotion, and obtained the other two dioceses he had in view. He likewise succeeded in preventing the Sulpicians from losing by expropriation their seigniory of the Island of Montreal. Public opinion had improved since Brand's time. On his return voyage, Plessis, at the request of Propaganda, visited Philadelphia and Baltimore. When in 1822 the House of Commons proposed a bill for the legislative Union of the two Canadas, whereby the French Catholic province would have been the sufferer, Plessis, though stricken with the disease that was to end his life, undertook an active campaign by letter to avert the disaster. His advice and influence strengthened the delegates who had been sent to England to prevent the passing of the bill.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online