Skip to content

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

Help Now >


Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

Archdiocese of Dubuque (Dubuquensis), established, 28 July, 1837, created an archbishopric, 1893, comprises that part of Iowa, U.S.A. north of Polk, Jasper, Poweshiek, Iowa, Johnson, Cedar, and Scott, and east of Kossuth, Humboldt, Webster, and Boone Counties; an area of 18,084 sq. miles. The city is picturesquely situated on the Mississippi, at the base of noble bluffs that rise 300 feet above the river; many of these eminences are crowned with Catholic institutions and fine residences. The city is named after Julien Dubuque, a Canadian who lived there from 1788 to 1811, mining lead and trading with the Indians. His grave was marked by a cross and recently has been adorned with a rugged round tower of native limestone.

The first white men to visit Iowa were Jesuit Marquette and the Franciscan Hennepin. Later missionaries sent from Quebec laboured among the Indians of Wisconsin and Iowa, and kept alive the Faith among the scattered pioneers. Iowa became United States territory by the Louisiana Purchase, and in 1883, after treaty with the Indians, was opened to settlement. The lead mines at Dubuque attracted many, and the fertile prairies many more, and the population increased rapidly. The earliest Catholic settlers were French, German, and Irish, coming directly from their native lands or from the Eastern States; soon the whole state was dotted with thriving villages and prosperous farms. The attitude of non-Catholics has been uniformly friendly; the coming of a priest and the building of a church were generally met with favor and even with generous contributions. At present the Catholic people of the Archdiocese of Dubuque are about equally divided between agriculture and urban pursuits, and hold a prominent position in social, business, and professional life. The principal parishes outside the city of Dubuque presided over by irremovable rectors are Clinton, Cedar Rapids, Independence, Marshalltown, Waterloo, Dyersville, Mason City, Lansing, Ackley, Cascade, New Vienna, and Waukon.

The diocese of Dubuque was created in 1837 by a division of that of St. Louis, and embraced the area north of Missouri to Canada, and east of the Mississippi to the Missouri. One priest, a zealous Dominican, Samuel Mazzuchelli, ministered to a scattered population of less than 3000; three churches had been built; St. Raphael's at Dubuque, one in Davenport, and one at Sugar Creek, Lee County. Today in that same territory the church numbers 1,000,000 souls with two archbishops, a score of bishops, and thousands of priests and religious workers.


(1) Pierre-Jean-Mathias Loras, the first bishop, was born in Lyons, France, 30 August, 1792; his father and uncle were guillotined during the Revolution. Mathias, who had as a schoolmate the Blessed Curé d'Ars , was ordained priest 12 November 1815, and for years was superior of the seminary of Largentiere. His zeal led him in 1829 to Mobile, Alabama, U.S.A. where he labored as pastor of Sand Spring Hill until 1837. Consecrated Bishop of Dubuque, at Mobile, 10 December, 1837, by Bishop Portier of Mobile, he familiarized himself by letters with the needs of his diocese, and went to France for priests ; he returned 21 April, 1839, with six men of heroic mould, whose names are inseparably linked with the Catholic North-West: Joseph Cretin, who in 1851 was consecrated first Bishop of St. Paul, A. Ravoux, a noted Indian missionary, J.A.M.Pelamourgues, the patriarch-priest of Davenport, L. Galtier, R. Petiot, and J. Causse, pioneer priests of Minnesota. At Dubuque the bishop was received, 19 April, 1839, with great joy by all classes. His administration was marked by piety, zeal, and providential prudence. He multiplied his priests, encouraged immigration from the crowded cities of the East, welcomed the Trappists and various orders of sisters, chose and purchased tracts of land in the wilderness, that are now flourishing parishes. He was constantly engaged in visitations and preaching missions. By personal example and formation of societies, he advanced the cause of temperance. In his work the generosity of the people was supplemented by contributions from France. In a letter of 1839 to the Society of the Propagation of the Faith of Lyons, he acknowledged a gift of $10,500 for his diocese. In 1850 St. Bernard's diocesan seminary was opened, which flourished for five years; among its students was Henry Cosgrove, who became Bishop of Davenport. In 1854 Bishop Loras visited Ireland and France in quest of priests. In 1855 he requested and obtained as coadjutor the Rev. Clement Smyth, superior of the Trappist community at New Melleray. Bishop Loras died at Dubuque, 20 February, 1858. Where he found one priest and a scattered little flock, he left 48 priests with 60 churches and 54,000 Catholics.

(2) Clement Smyth was b. 24 February, 1810, at Finlea, County Clare, Ireland ; educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he entered the Cistercian Order and was ordained, 29 May, 1841. He was sent to the United States and founded New Melleray monastery, twelve miles from Dubuque, on land donated by Bishop Loras. He was consecrated, 3 May, 1857, by Archbishop Kenrick of St. Louis. Bishop Smyth was a man whose deep piety and boundless charity won the devotion of priests and people. He held a synod whose canons remained unaltered till 1902. Under him immigration continued, but owing to hard times and the Civil War, not much progress was made in church-building, but the spiritual edifice was strengthened. At his death, 22 September 1865, there were 90,000 Catholics in Iowa.

(3) Bishop Smyth was succeeded in 1866 by the Rt. Rev. John Hennessy, b. 20 August, 1825, in the County Limerick, Ireland. He entered Carondelet seminary near St. Louis, and was ordained in 1850. He became president of the seminary, and in 1858 was sent to Rome as representative Archbishop Kenrick. From 1860 to 1866 he was pastor of St. Joseph, Missouri. As a priest he manifested extraordinary prudence, learning, and eloquence. He was consecrated by Archbishop Kenrick, at Dubuque, 30 Sept., 1866. Bishop Hennessy received many priests from Germany and Ireland, and in 1873 founded St. Joseph's College and Theological Seminary in Dubuque. Existing parishes were systematically divided and he directed his energies especially to Christian education. Wherever possible schools were built and heroic sacrifices were made that every Catholic child should be educated by Catholic teachers. Considerable and continued opposition was offered by some Catholics, not only for economic reasons, but also because they considered the programme an attack on the public schools. The wisdom of the bishop was shown by the prosperous condition of the parochial schools, which at the time of his silver Jubilee, showed 12,257 pupils enrolled. Bishop Hennessy assisted at the Vatican Council, and was prominent in the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore. In 1893 he was made first Archbishop of Dubuque, with Davenport, Omaha, Wichita, and Sioux Falls as suffragan sees. His death occurred 4 March, 1900.

(4) The Most Rev. John J. Keane, titular Archbishop of Damascus and formerly Bishop of Richmond, Virginia, and Rector of Catholic University of America, was named to succeed Archbishop Hennessy, 24 July, 1900. Archbishop Keane was b. 12 Sept., 1839, at Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, Ireland ; ordained 2 July, 1866, at Baltimore ; consecrated bishop at Baltimore, 25 August, 1878. Synods in 1902, 1905, and 1908 applied the Baltimore decrees to local conditions. Conferences of the clergy were held semi-annualy in every deanery. Complete annual reports from every parish were made through the chancery. His zeal for total abstinence founded an archdiocesan union, and in the field of education he encouraged postgraduate courses for priests, doubled the faculty and buildings of St. Joseph's College, the preparatory seminary of the archdiocese, which now enrolls 200 classical students, established a missionary band of diocesan priests, welcomed the Sisters of the Good Shepherd and the Sisters of the Order of St. Dominic , and the Brothers of Mary. Thus with indefatigable zeal he continued the work of his predecessors. In 1902 the western portion of the archdiocese was erected into the new Diocese of Sioux City.

Among the early missionaries and priests were Rev. John McMahon, C.P. Fitzmaurice, Daniel Maloney, Maurice Flavin, John Shields, James O'Gorman, who became vicar Apostolic at Omaha, M. Flannery, A.Hattneberger, H. Meis, Charles McGauran, John Brazil, T.M. Lenihan, later bishop of Cheyenne, C. Johannes, Patrick McCabe, and T. Donahue. Prominent among Catholic laymen were: Charles Corkery, Postmaster under President Buchanan, Patrick Quigley, Gen. Geo. W. Jones, United States Senator, 1848-1859, and Minister to New Granada, Dennis A. Mahoney, Eugene Shine, Maurice Brown, Thomas Connolly, Cornelius Mullen, Patrick Clark, Gen. John Lawler, of Prairie-du-Chen, who gave many church sites in Iowa, Senas Huegal, Anton Heeb, Gerard Becker, Charles Gregoire, John Mullaney,Wm. Ryan, Wm. Neuman, and David Hennessey.

The Sisters of Charity of the B.V M. went to Dubuque in 1844 from Philadelphia. The mother-house is now located there and they conduct two academies and eleven schools in various centres, besides having sent communities to four other states. The Sisters of Mercy located in 1868 in Davenport, and now have independent houses in Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, and Independence. The Presentation Nuns arrived from Ireland in 1875, and have 65 members. The Visitation Nuns conduct an academy in Dubuque; they number 31 members. The Sisters of St. Francis came from Westphalia, Germany, and 320 of them are employed in schools throughout Iowa. Other sisterhoods represented in the archdiocese are Third Order of St. Dominic, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, M.C., School Sisters of St. Francis, Sisters of the Holy Ghost, Sisters of the Holy Humility of Mary, and the School Sisters of Notre Dame.


Official reports for 1908 give these figures: 222 diocesan and 9 regular priests, 165 parish churches, 63 mission churches, 50 chapels (in religious institutions); 1 college for men with 380 students; 25 academies for higher education of young women, attended by 4,000; 96 parochial schools, with 25,000 pupils; 1 orphanage with 225 inmates; 7 hospitals each accommodating 30-150 patients; one industrial home with 50 inmates; one home of the Good Shepherd. Catholic population, 111,112 in a total of 693,400. About 650 sisters of religious communities are engaged in teaching, and about 130 are in hospitals and other charitable work.

Join the Movement
When you sign up below, you don't just join an email list - you're joining an entire movement for Free world class Catholic education.

Saint of the Day logo
Prayer of the Day logo

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2024 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2024 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.