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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PERCHE, Napoleon Joseph, archbishop, born in Angers, France, 10 January, 1805; died in New Orleans, Louisiana, 27 December, 1883. He gave evidence of remarkable precocity in his childhood, and at eighteen years of age was appointed a professor of philosophy. The treatises on that subject written at this period are said to be masterpieces of pure Latinity. About two years later he entered the Seminary of Beaupreau, and on the completion of his theological studies was ordained priest, 19 September, 1829. After holding several pastorates he asked permission in 1836 to accompany Bishop Flaget to Kentucky, and arrived in the United States in the following year. His life during the next four years was that of a pioneer. He built a church in Portland, Kentucky, and went to Louisiana in 1841 to collect money to free it from debt. The people of New Orleans were so impressed by his eloquence that Archbishop Blanc asked him to return to that city, and he was appointed almoner to the Ursuline convent there. His preaching gave him great influence, and the young creole poet, Adrian Roquette (q. v.), was so moved by it that he became a priest. There was a schism in New Orleans at the time, owing to an attempt to force the archbishop to appoint certain priests. The Abbe Perche, in order to support the archbishop, established "Le propagateur Catholique." Although it was stated at the head of its columns that it was " published by a society of literary men," it was for several years edited by the abbe without aid of any kind. Peace was restored by its influence, and it is still the chief organ of the French population of the south. He also founded a Roman Catholic society for mutual support. He was nominated coadjutor to Archbishop Odin in 1870, and consecrated bishop of Abdera in partibus, on 1 May, in the cathedral of St. Louis. He succeeded to the archbishopric on 25 May. The same difficulties that he had struggled with as a priest encountered him on his accession to the episcopate. Questions as to the management of church property and cemeteries led to frequent litigation, but Archbishop Perche finally triumphed without exciting the ill-will of his opponents, and after a time the wardens of the cathedral consented to invest its ownership and that of other ecclesiastical property in him and his successors. He established a community of Carmelite nuns in his archdiocese. During his administration twenty new churches and chapels were built, and the number of priests was largely increased. Thibodeaux college and St. Mary's commercial college were founded, four academies for girls and thirteen parochial schools were opened, and an asylum for aged colored women was established and placed under the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Archbishop Perche was styled by Pope Leo XIII. the "Bossuet of the American church."
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