Jesuit missionary and educator; b. LaRoche, Switzerland, Dec. 7, 1815; d. Baltimore, Md., Nov. 2, 1887. A prosperous farmer's son, Bapst attended St. Michael's College, Fribourg, Switzerland, entered the Society of Jesus in 1835, and was ordained in 1846. As one of a group of exiled Swiss Jesuits assigned to the United States, he arrived in New York in May of 1848. Although highly qualified for the classroom and disinclined to the missions, Bapst was immediately assigned to reside with the Indians on Indian Island in the newly established mission in north central Maine. He and a few companions organized a circuit covering 33 towns and serving, until recalled in 1859, about 9,000 people—Irish, Canadians, and the Indians on two reservations. The opposition of know-nothingism in Ellsworth, Maine, ended in a brutal attack on him on Oct. 14, 1853, when he was tarred and feathered. Horrified Protestants of Bangor, Maine, honored him after his recovery. He was rector of the Boston, Mass., Jesuit seminary (1860–63), the first president of Boston College (1864–69), and superior of the New York/Canadian Mission (1869–73). His health had failed by 1881, and during the last years of his life his mind was haunted by the Ellsworth outrage.
Bibliography: Archives, Woodstock College, Md., J. Bapst correspondence. "Fr. J. B., a Sketch," Woodstock Letters 17(1888); 18 (1889); 20 (1891), contains many letters from the preceding reference. w. l. lucey, The Catholic Church in Maine (Francestown, N.H. 1957). d. r. dunigan, A History of Boston College (Milwaukee 1947).
[w. l. lucey]