Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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LORAS, Mathias, R. C. bishop, born in Lyons, France, in 1792; died in Dubuque, Iowa, 19 February, 1858. He was descended from a noble family, and his father perished on the scaffold during the reign of terror. He studied for the priesthood, was ordained about 1817, and soon afterward appointed superior of the ecclesiastical seminary of Largentiere. In 1830 he accompanied Bishop Portier, who was seeking priests in France for his diocese, of Mobile, Alabama, to the United States. Father Loras was appointed vicar-general on his arrival, and made president of the College of Spring Hill, near Mobile. In 1887 the diocese of Dubuque was created, comprising Iowa and Ninnesota, and Father Loras became its bishop. After a visit to France to obtain missionaries he went to his diocese in April, 1889, and in June following he made his first visitation, also founding missions at Fort Snelling and Prairie du Chien. On 15 August of the same year he consecrated the cathedral of Dubuque, and shortly afterward built a church in Davenport He also established missions among the Sioux, Foxes, and Winnebagoes, built churches and schools in every part of his diocese, and expended large sums of money in employing teachers, as well as boarding and educating many poor children at his own expense. He introduced the Sisters of Charity into his diocese, established a seminary at Nount St. Bernard, and founded a convent of Trappist monks and another of visitation nuns. In 1851 Minnesota was erected into a separate see. He built a hospital in 1857, and during the same year was compelled to apply for a coadjutor, owing to failing health. Bishop Loras paid much attention to the question of emigration, and under his encouragement and guidance Roman Catholic settlers came to Iowa in large numbers after 1850.
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