Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Rappe, Louis Amadeus

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RAPPE, Louis Amadeus, R. C. bishop, b. in Andrehem, France, 2 Feb., 1801; d. in St. Alban's, Vt., 9 Sept., 1877. His parents were peasants, and up to his twentieth year he labored in the fields. Believing that he was called to the priesthood, he applied for admission to the college at Boulogne, and, after a classical course, entered the seminary of Arras, and was ordained a priest, 14 March, 1829. He was appointed pastor of Wisme, and subsequently chaplain of the Ursuline convent in Boulogne. With the permission of his superiors, he sailed for the United States in 1840, and in 1841 was appointed to minister to the laborers on the Miami and Erie canal and the settlers along Maumee river. He established a branch of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Toledo, and prepared a convent and school for them. In 1847 the northern part of Ohio was erected into the see of Cleveland, and Father Rappe was nominated its first bishop, and consecrated at Cincinnati by Bishop Purcell on 10 Oct., 1847. He set about building a cathedral in Cleveland in the following year, and consecrated it in 1852. In 1851 he opened St. Mary's orphan asylum for girls, and founded the order of Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, gave them charge of St. Vincent's asylum for boys in 1853, and introduced many other religious organizations. The want of a hospital was felt severely in Cleveland during the civil war. Bishop Rappe offered to build one in 1863 and provide nurses, on condition that the public would aid him. His offer was accepted, and the hospital was completed in 1865 at a cost of $75,000, and placed in charge of the Sisters of Charity. He attended the Vatican council in 1869, although in feeble health. He had met with bitter opposition from some members of his flock, who made unwarranted attacks on his character, and he tendered his resignation, which was accepted, on 22 Aug., 1870. He was offered another diocese several years afterward, but declined it, and spent the remainder of his life in the diocese of Burlington, engaged in the duties of a missionary priest. When Bishop Rappe took possession of the diocese of Cleveland it contained about 25,000 Roman Catholics, with 28 priests and 34 churches. He left it with more than 100,000 Roman Catholics, 107 priests, 160 churches, and 90 schools.