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Francis Matignon

MATIGNON, Francis (mah-teen-yong), clergyman, born in Paris, France, in 1753; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 19 September, 1818. He was ordained in 1778, and received the degree of D. D. at the Sorbonne in 1785. He was for several years professor of divinity in the College of Navarre, but fled to England during the reign of terror, and then he resolved to go to the United States. He landed in Baltimore, 26 June, 1792, and was appointed by Bishop Carroll to take charge of the church in Boston. The entire Roman Catholic population of the city was less than 300, nearly all French and Irish of the poorer classes. For four years he was the only priest in Boston, and his mission also embraced the whole of New England. There were no churches, and he had to visit the Roman Catholics that were scattered over this territory at their homes. He was so poor that he had to make his journeys on foot. In 1796 he was assisted by the Abbe de Cheverus, who had been his pupil in Prance. In 1803 the congregation of the Abbe Matignon had increased so much that a new church became necessary. Subscriptions flowed in rapidly, to a great extent from Protestants, the name of the president of the United States, John Adams, standing at the head of the list. In 1808 the see of Boston was created, and Dr. Matignon was proposed as bishop, but he declined. He is considered the pioneer of the Roman Catholic church in New England. Dr. Matignon was an eloquent preacher and profound scholar, and the rapid advance of his church in numbers and consideration in Boston was mainly due to his efforts. Dr. Matignon wrote " Rules of the Confraternity, or Association of the Holy Cross " (Boston, 1817).

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