Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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McGILL, John, R. C. bishop, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 4 November, 1809; died in Richmond, Virginia, 14 January, 1872. His parents, who had come from Ireland when they were children, settled in Philadelphia before their marriage, but removed to Bardstown, Kentucky, in 1818. John was graduated at the College of St. Joseph in 1828, studied law, and practised with success, but afterward abandoned his profession and entered the seminary of Bardstown as a candidate for the priesthood. Here he spent two years, and was then sent to St. Mary's, Baltimore, for the completion of his theological studies. He returned to Bardstown in 1835 and was ordained priest by Bishop David on 13 June. He was placed in charge of the congregation of St. Peter's church, Lexington, and toward the end of 1836 appointed assistant pastor of the Church of St. Louis, Louisville. In the summer of 1838 he was despatched to Europe on a special mission by Bishop Chabrat. On his return to Louisville in October, in addition to his ministerial work he edited the "Catholic Advocate," in which his articles in defence of the dogmas of his church made his name known to all Roman Catholics in the United States. He also gave a series of lectures on the same subjects, which were listened to by members of every denomination. In 1848 he was appointed vicar-general by Bishop Spalding, and in October, 1850, he was nominated for the see of Richmond, and consecrated bishop on 10 November. He devoted himself zealously to the administration of his diocese. There were but ten churches and eight priests in it, with two orphan asylums. Bishop McGill built churches in Norfolk, Fortress Monroe, Richmond, Fredericksburg, Warrenton, and Fairfax Station. He visited Rome in 1852 in order to take part in the definition of the immaculate conception, and in 1869 to join in the deliberations of the Vatican council. His diocese suffered severely during the civil war, and several of his churches were destroyed, but he gave himself up to the care of the wounded, and established an infirmary in Richmond for their benefit. After the war he built the convent of Monte Maria, and introduced various sisterhoods, who established academies. He also established fourteen parochial schools for a Roman Catholic population of about 17,000. His health failed in 1871. While bishop of Richmond, Dr. McGill published a series of letters on controversial subjects addressed to Robert Ridgway, besides two compendiums of Catholic doctrine, entitled "The True Church" and "Faith the Victory." He was also author of a work criticising Macaulay's "History of England," and translated Audin's "Life of John Calvin " (Louisville, 1847).
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