Chapelle, Placide Louis
CHAPELLE, PLACIDE LOUIS
Diplomat, archbishop;. b. Runes, France, Aug. 28, 1842; d. New Orleans, Louisiana, Aug. 9, 1905. He was educated at Mende, department of Lozère, and at Enghien, Belgium. At age 17 he immigrated to the United States and entered St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, Maryland. Before his ordination in June of 1865, he taught at St. Charles College, Catonsville, Maryland. His first years as a priest were spent as assistant at St. John's Church, then pastor of St. Joseph's, both in Baltimore; in 1882, he became pastor of St. Matthew's, Washington, D.C. In November of 1891, he was consecrated titular bishop of Arabissus and coadjutor with right of succession to Archbishop J. B. Salpointe of santa fe, New Mexico. When Salpointe resigned, Chapelle became archbishop in 1894 and ruled Santa Fe until 1897.
On Dec. 1, 1897, shortly before the outbreak of the Spanish–American War, Chapelle was transferred to the
Archdiocese of new orleans as its sixth archbishop. In 1898 he was appointed apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico and Cuba and chargé d'affaires of the Philippine Islands. Early in 1899, he visited the Caribbean area, returning to his see in April to receive the pallium from Bishop Edward Fitzgerald of Little Rock, Arkansas. Later that year, he went to the Philippines and while in Manila secured the release of priests and religious taken prisoner by Aguinaldo. He later helped in solving the many problems pertaining to Church properties and parochial rights of the Spanish clergy in the islands. Leo XIII, in a pontifical brief, praised the archbishop's work; he was named an assistant to the pontifical throne and count of the Roman Court. Although Chapelle asked to be relieved of diplomatic duties in order to devote his energies to New Orleans, he continued temporarily as apostolic delegate to Cuba and Puerto Rico, directing the redistribution of dioceses and parishes there.
Despite frequent and lengthy absences from New Orleans, Chapelle founded 12 parishes and missions, brought the Dominican fathers to the archdiocese, and opened the St. Louis theological seminary in Faubourg Bouligny. One of his main concerns throughout his tenure in New Orleans was the reduction of the diocesan debt that had burdened three of his predecessors. He succeeded in liquidating the debt but not without alienating some of his priests, who claimed that the tax imposed by the archbishop, in addition to the normal assessments, was excessive. Another cause of complaint was the number and length of his absences from the archdiocese on diplomatic missions. As if to answer his critics, the archbishop scheduled a series of parish visitations in 1905, reaching the farthermost parish, Lake Charles, in July. There he learned that an epidemic of yellow fever had broken out in New Orleans. He hastened back to the city, but a few days later he died, a victim of the disease.
Bibliography: f. j. tschan, Dictionary of American Biography, ed. a. johnson and d. malone, 20 v. (New York 1928–36) 4:11–12.
[h. c. bezou]