Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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CHEVERUS, Jean Louis Anne Magdeleine Lefebvre de, R. C. prelate, born in Mayenne, France, 28 January, 1768; died in Bordeaux, 19 July, 1836. He received his preparatory education in Mayenne, entered the College Louis le Grand in 1780, and was ordained in 1790. After suffering imprisonment and narrowly escaping death, he went to England in 1792. In 1796 he offered himself for the American mission, and, having previously surrendered his patrimony in France to his brother and sisters, sailed for Boston. Here he became so noted for his eloquent preaching that he attracted audiences mainly composed of those who did not accept his religious views. During an epidemic of yellow fever in the City, he was constantly employed in nursing the sick, without distinction of rank or creed. The legislature of Massachusetts, having prepared the form of an oath to be taken by all citizens before voting at elections, submitted it to Father Cheverus for revision, and enacted it into a law with the changes he suggested. He founded the Church of the Holy Cross in 1803, being enabled to do so principally through the subscriptions of Protestant citizens, among whom the most liberal was President Adams. He was frequently invited to preach in the Protestant churches of the state, and lecture before the learned societies of Boston, and was one of the principal founders of the Athenaeum. In 1810 he was consecrated first bishop of Boston, and soon after his consecration he founded the Ursuline convent at Charlestown. Nearly all the early Roman Catholic churches in New England were to some extent his work. On the accession of Louis XVIII., repeated efforts were made by that monarch to persuade him to accept a bishopric in France. At this time he had become enfeebled by attacks of asthma, and his physicians assured him that he could not live much longer if he remained in Massachusetts. Thereupon he distributed all he possessed among the clergy and the poor, and sailed from Boston in 1823. He was promoted to the see of Montauban by Louis XVIII., was afterward archbishop of Bordeaux and peer of France under Charles X., and made a cardinal at the request of Louis Philippe, 1 February, 1836. See Huen Du Bourg's "Vie du Cardinal Cheverus" (English translations, Philadelphia, 1842, and Boston, 1846).
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