Missioner, educator, second bishop of Monterey (California) diocese, now the Archdiocese of los angeles; b. Barcelona, Dec. 31, 1811; d. Los Angeles, May 12, 1878. Son of Pedro and Maria (Brusi) Amat, he entered the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) in Barcelona on Dec. 30, 1831 where he pronounced his vows on Jan. 16, 1834, and after further training in Barcelona and at Saint Lazare in Paris, was ordained on Dec. 23, 1837. Upon arriving in the United States in 1838, he did missionary work in Louisiana for three years. From 1841 to 1847 he was superior at St. Mary's Seminary in Perryville, Missouri, and St. Vincent's College, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, also serving briefly (1842–43) as pastor of Holy Trinity Church and administrator of the diocesan seminary in St. Louis. In 1848 he became superior of St. Charles Seminary, Philadelphia.
When on July 29, 1853, Bishop Joseph Alemany was transferred to the new See of San Francisco, Amat was named bishop of Monterey, where his familiarity with Spanish and American cultures was useful. He was consecrated in Rome on March 12, 1854. After stopping in Spain to enlist clergy and religious and in San Francisco (November 1855) to deliver the pallium to Archbishop Alemany, he hastened to his own diocese with the personnel he had recruited. Amat had headquarters at Santa Barbara, but soon perceived that rapidly growing Los Angeles would become the population nucleus of his area. In 1856 he sent Blasius Raho, CM, there as his vicar–general. While in Rome in 1859, he obtained authorization to entitle his diocese Monterey–Los Angeles and to reside in Los Angeles. He secured legal recognition of diocesan claims to mission properties in 1856, and later, to the pious fund of the Californias. In 1862, 1869, and 1876 he held synods to cope with the problems of the growing diocese. He attended the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore (1866) and Vatican Council I (1869–70).
There he participated actively in discussions on the constitutions "On Catholic Faith" and "On Primacy." When a spinal injury restricted his activity, he asked for a coadjutor, and his vicar–general, Francis Mora, was appointed and consecrated on Aug. 3, 1873. Amat was buried in St. Vibiana Cathedral, whose cornerstone he had laid and whose dedication he had witnessed on April 30, 1876.
Bibliography: r. baudier, The Catholic Church in Louisiana (New Orleans 1939). g. e. o'donnell, Saint Charles Seminary, Overbrook, 2 v. (Philadelphia 1943–53). r. bayard, Lone–Star Vanguard: The Catholic Reoccupation of Texas, 1838–1848 (St. Louis 1945).
[n. c. eberhardt]