Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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LERAY, Francis Xavier, archbishop, born in Chateau Giron, near Rennes, France, 20 April, 1825; died there, 23 September, 1887. He studied in the lyceum of Rennes in 1833-'43, and in the latter year came to the United States, where he taught for several months in Spring Hill college, near Mobile, Alabama, and then entered the Sulpitian college of Baltimore, where he finished his theological studies. He was next appointed prefect of St. Mary's college, near Baltimore, afterward travelled in the west as a missionary, and in 1852 was ordained priest and attached to the diocese of Natchez. At the end of six months he was sent to Jackson, Mississippi, where during the yellow-fever epidemic of 1853 and 1855 he was unceasing in his efforts to minister to the sick and dying. In 1857 he was sent to Vicksburg, where he formed parish, and in 1860 established the Sisters of Mercy, whom he had obtained from Baltimore. In 1861, when the civil war began, he placed them in the hospitals of Mississippi Springs, Jackson, and Shelby Springs, while he went to the front as chaplain in the Confederate army. After the war he returned to Vicksburg, where he established many institutions for the general good. In 1867 Vicksburg was visited by the cholera, during which he showed the same fearlessness that he had exhibited during the yellow-fever epidemics. In 1877 he was nominated bishop of Natchitoches, and was consecrated in the cathedral of Rennes, France, on 23 April. He was rapidly restoring this diocese to prosperity when he was made coadjutor archbishop of New Orleans, 23 October, 1879, and administrator of the temporalities of the diocese. The losses that had been occasioned by the war had sunk the church of New Orleans in debt, but its finances prospered under his management. He succeeded Archbishop Berche in December, 1883, and was invested with the pallium in the cathedral of St. Louis in January, 1885, with imposing ceremonies. Most of the cities of the south sent deputations to congratulate him on the occasion. Archbishop Leray attended the third plenary council of Baltimore, in November, 1884, where his ability for organization and his knowledge of men and affairs gave him commanding influence. He went to Rome early in 1887, in connection with the appointment of a coadjutor, and fell sick while visiting his birthplace in Brittany.
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