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Accolti, Michael


Jesuit missionary; b. Conversano, Italy, Jan. 29, 1807; d. San Francisco, Calif., Nov. 7, 1878. Both of his parents were of ancient and noble families. In 1830 he was appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Noble Ecclesiastics in Rome and enrolled for two years. He then entered the Jesuit novitiate of Sant' Andrea in Rome, and was ordained on Sept. 24, 1842, in the Basilica of St. John Lateran. A year later he was assigned to accompany a group of Jesuits led by Pierre de smet to work among the Flathead Indians in the Northwest of North America.

Accolti spent several years working in Jesuit missionary stations in Oregon. With the discovery of gold in California by James Marshall on Jan. 24, 1848, the rapid increase in population there made the need for priests imperative. Accordingly, Accolti and a companion, John nobili, arrived in San Francisco on Dec. 8, 1849, marking the first return of the Society of Jesus (SJ) to California since its expulsion in 1768 from the lower, or Mexican, part of the area.

Within a few months Accolti was recalled to Oregon as superior of the Jesuits of the Northwest. Because he was convinced of the need to establish the Jesuits permanently in California, he went to Rome in 1853 and secured from the father general, Peter Beckx, a decree (1854) assigning the Jesuit effort in the Oregon country and California to the care of the Italian Jesuit province of Turin. This arrangement ensured a flow of manpower to the missions confided to Accolti. In 1855 he was relieved of his office of superior in Oregon and returned to San Francisco, where he assisted Anthony Maraschi, SJ, to found St. Ignatius College (later University of San Francisco). From 1860 until his death he served alternately in San Francisco and at Santa Clara College (later University).

Bibliography: g. j. garraghan, Jesuits in the Middle United States, 3 v. (New York 1938). j. w. riordan, The First Half Century of St. Ignatius Church and College (San Francisco 1905).

[j. b. mcgloin]

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