In the vast tracts of Upper Michigan, in thick-drifted midwinter, in wind or flake or stillness, the bent and burdened figure of a man could be seen trudging across the scudded snow.
He carried bundles on his back—medicines, linens, precious Viaticum—and tramped on worn snowshoes. He had no companions, no beast of burden, no means of communication, but angels watched his steps.
This is how Venerable Bishop Frederic Baraga administered to his vast diocese of Michigan for fifteen years.
He would travel as far as 250 miles on his snowshoes, just because he’d heard rumors of stranded settlers in need of Holy Communion or of a child at death’s door. He always brought as many gifts as he could carry.
Bishop Baraga had originally come from Carniola, present-day Slovenia. He lost both parents by the time he was fifteen years old, but before their deaths he had witnessed their strong example of virtue and piety.
At first Baraga studied law, but upon graduation he entered the seminary. He was ordained just two years later, in 1823.
After seven years among his native parishes, he was sent to the United States as a missionary. His work among Germans and Indians bore great fruit. (Fun fact: Baraga wrote the first rules of grammar and a dictionary for the Chippewa language! He is holding his Chippewa dictionary in the image above.)
1853 saw him appointed the first bishop of Upper Michigan. Here he toiled among his loving flock until his death fifteen years later.
Bishop Baraga was joined in his missionary work by countless others. They established hundreds of Catholic churches and communities throughout the United States. Travel in the footsteps of these Catholic pioneers when you open up Monuments, Marvels, And Miracles: A Traveler’s Guide To America. Telling the intriguing tales of over 500 American holy sites, these engaging and riveting pages will be hard to put down! A perfect gift for the adventurer in your life. Available today at The Catholic Company!