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John Bapst

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Jesuit missionary and educator, b. at La Roche, Fribourg, Switzerland, 17 December, 1815; d. at Mount Hope, Maryland, U.S.A. 2 November, 1887. At twelve he began his studies at the college of Fribourg, and on 30 September, 1835, entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus. He was ordained priest, 31 December, 1846, after the usual course of studies and teaching. He arrived in New York in 1848 and, though ignorant of both English and Indian, was sent to minister to the Indians at Old Town, Maine. The inhabitants received him with every demonstration of joy, but he found them in a very degraded moral condition. They had been without a priest for twenty years, and he laboured zealously for their reformation. He founded several temperance societies in Maine. In 1850 he left Old Town for Eastport. His work immediately began to attract attention, both for its results among Catholics and the number of converts who were brought into the Church. As his missions covered a large extent of territory, he became generally known through the State. When the Know-Nothing excitement broke out he was at Ellsworth. Besides being disliked as a Catholic priest, he was particularly obnoxious because of his efforts to establish a Catholic school there. On 3 June his house was attacked, and on 5 June, 1851, in pursuance of an order of the Town Council, which was directed to be published in the papers, he was dragged out of the residence of one of his people, was tarred and feathered, and ridden on a rail to the woods outside the town, and ordered to leave the neighbourhood. Some acounts have it that there was an attempt to burn him to death, which, for some reason or other, was prevented. He recovered from his injuries and continued his work. The outrage at Ellsworth met with general condemnation. Father Bapst built the first church at Bangor, which was dedicated in 1856. He remained there for three years and was then sent to Boston as rector of the college which was at that time the house of higher studies for the Jesuit scholastics. He was afterwards superior of all the houses of Canada and New York, and subsequently superior of a Residence in Providence, R.I. In 1879 his mind began to fail, a result, it was thought, of the Ellsworth occurrence. His remains were interred at Woodstock, Maryland.

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