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Bishop Chatard Dies

On this day, September 7, 1918, Bishop Francis Silas Chatard died at Indianapolis. He had been the bishop for 40 years. He began as the fifth Bishop of Vincennes and within days he moved his residence to Indianapolis. For twenty years the Bishop of Vincennes lived in the capitol city. In 1898 the move to Indianapolis became “official” so to speak. The Diocese of Indianapolis was established and Chatard became it’s first bishop.

Just as later bishops seemed to have a relationship with Saint Louis (Ritter, Schulte, O’Meara), the early bishops had a relationship to Maryland. The Chatards were and remain residents of Baltimore. They knew Elizabeth Ann Seton and Emmitsburg. Chatard was a medical doctor, just as Bishop Bruté was.

As far as his Church “career” goes, Chatard was always destined for the hierarchy, spending the first 15 years of his priesthood in Rome as a “favorite” of Pius IX. It is interesting to note that although Bishop Chatard and Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore were “friends” (See story below), they were on opposite sides of the Church politics fence with Chatard being a supporter of the more conservative faction headed by Archbishop Michael Corrigan of New York, and an opponent of labor unions and other social progressives.

One could probably surmise that it was for this reason that Corrigan never became a Cardinal and Chatard never became Archbishop of Philadelphia, as was rumored. All of this should be covered in a separate posting.

Here is the story of Chatard’s death from the New York Times, September 7, 1918:

BISHOP CHATARD DIES IN INDIANAPOLIS — Roman Catholic Prelate Had Served as Head of Indiana Diocese for Forty Years.
INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 7.—The Right Rev Francis Silas Marean Chatard, bishop of the Indianapolis Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, died here today after a lingering illness.
Bishop Chatard was born In Baltimore, Md., Dec. 13, 1834, and was graduated from Mount St. Mary’s. Emmitsburg, Md., and received the M.D. degree from the University of Maryland. He entered the Urban College of the Propaganda at Rome, where he received the D.D. degree in 1863. He was made vice rector of the American College in Rome and assumed charge of the institution In 1868, remaining at its head for ten years. He received a gold medal from Pius IX., who, a short time later, appointed him to the position in the Papal Court of Private Supernumerary Chamberlain to the Pope.
He was named an American Bishop In 1878 by Pope Leo XIII., and assigned the diocese of Vincennes, now the Indianapolis Diocese. He established his episcopal residence at Indianapolis. In June, 1903, he celebrated his silver jubilee as Bishop. Cardinal Gibbons, a lifelong friend of the Bishop, forty Archbishops and Bishops, and more than 300 priests from all parts of the country attended the ceremonies. Bishop Chatard was the author of “Christian Truths and other books.

The New York Times — Published: September 8, 1918
Copyright © The New York Times


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