Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Heiss, Michael

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HEISS, Michael, archbishop, b. in Pfahldorf, Bavaria, 12 April, 1818; d. in La Crosse, Wis., 26 March, 1890. He was a student in the University of Munich from 1835 till 1839, in the law and afterward in theology. He then entered the theological seminary in Eichstadt and was ordained priest by Cardinal Reisach, 18 Oct., 1840, although he had not yet attained the canonical age. A visit of Archbishop Purcell, of Cincinnati, first suggested to him the idea of laboring in the United States. He arrived in New York, 17 Dec., 1842, and in 1843 became pastor of the Church of the Mother of God, in Covington, Ky. In 1844 his friend, Dr. Henni, was appointed bishop of Milwaukee, and on the invitation of this prelate he went to Wisconsin, where, besides acting as secretary to the bishop, he engaged in missionary work. In 1846 he founded the Church of St. Mary in Milwaukee, the first Roman Catholic parochial church and the first church built of brick in that city. He was in Europe for his health in 1850-'2, and on his return opened an ecclesiastical school in his own house. Afterward the Seminary of St. Francis de Sales was founded on the shores of Lake Michigan, and Father Heiss was appointed its first rector. About this time he became noted as a theological writer. When the diocese of La Crosse, on the Mississippi, was founded, he was named for the new see, and was consecrated bishop, 6 Sept., 1868. The diocese of Bishop Heiss extended over that part of Wisconsin north and west of Wisconsin river as far as the Mississippi. Under his administration several Roman Catholic churches were erected, the new cathedral was built, the Sisters of St. Francis were established in La Crosse, and an episcopal residence was built at his own expense. Twenty-five parochial schools and two asylums were opened. St. John's college was founded at Prairie du Chien, and other schools were built. During the twelve years when he had charge of the diocese, the number of churches had increased from forty to eighty-six. In 1880 he was nominated coadjutor to Archbishop Henni, of Milwaukee, with right of succession, and he was created Archbishop of Adrianople in partibus infidelium, 14 March of that year. He became metropolitan of Milwaukee in September, 1881. Archbishop Heiss took an active part as theologian in the Baltimore council of 1849, in that of St. Louis in 1855, and in the plenary council of Baltimore of 1866. He was one of the chief members of the Vatican council of 1869-'70, and also a member of one of the four great commissions, each of which consisted of twelve bishops, who represented all parts of the world. His theological works, which include “Ueber die vier Evangelien,” and “Ueber die Ehe,” were published in Milwaukee.