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Catholics commemorate 200th anniversary of Bishop DuBourg’s arrival to Missouri

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Bishop Louis William Valentine DuBourg

Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church will hold a Mass on Jan. 1, to commemorate the arrival of one of the first Catholic bishops to the region — in what was then the Louisiana Territory.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Bishop Louis William Valentine DuBourg in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

Joining the discussion was Msgr. Michael Witt, pastor at All Saints Parish and professor of church history at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

After living in New Orleans, DuBourg traveled to St. Louis to establish his bishop religious authority in the region to continue the spread of Catholic influence.

Following his arrival in 1818 was the start of various religious orders, including Saint Louis University, Christian Brothers, Religious of the Sacred Heart and Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne.

“[DuBourg’s] coming is very important, not just to Catholic history, but to the regional history itself,” Witt said.

Witt described DuBourg as a bright man who had 8,000 books, was president of Georgetown University for a year and fled the French Revolution.

“But there was another streak about him that was just very strange, he would turn his back on people at a strange moment,” Witt said.

DuBourg later returned to New Orleans when the Vatican divided Louisiana into two dioceses, split between St. Louis and New Orleans.

The Pontifical High Mass (celebrated by a bishop using certain prescribed ceremonies) on Jan. 1 at Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church will be conducted in Latin.

“The people who come to it are going to have the experience that the people of Ste. Genevieve did 200 years ago to the date,” Witt said. “It’s quite extraordinary.” Witt will deliver the homily.

Listen for the full discussion and more details on what Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis were like in 1818:


Related Event:

What: Mass to celebrate 200th anniversary of arrival of Bishop William DuBourg in Ste. Genevieve

When: 3 p.m., Jan. 1

Where: Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church, 49 DuBourg Place, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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