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David, John Baptist Mary


Frontier missionary, bishop of Bardstown, Ky., diocese (now louisville Archdiocese); b. Couëron, France, June 4, 1761; d. Nazareth, Ky., July 12, 1841. He received his early education at the Oratorian college in Nantes, France, and prepared for the priesthood at the Nantes seminary. After two years in the Sulpician novitiate at Issy, he was ordained on Sept. 24, 1785, and was admitted to the Society of the Priests of St. Sulpice. Under Benedict Flaget, he taught philosophy, theology, and Scripture, and served as économe (bursar) of the Angers seminary until it was attacked by revolutionaries in 1790. He sailed for America in November 1791 with Flaget, Jean Baptiste Chicoisneau, and seminarians Stephen Badin and N. Barrett, and reached the U.S. in March 1792. He was first sent by Bp. John Carroll to serve the Catholics of southern Maryland in Bryantown and its missions in Charles County. From 1803 to 1804 he taught philosophy at Georgetown College, Washington, D.C. At the request of Jacques André Émery, the Sulpician superior, he was transferred to St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore and was temporary president (181011) and chaplain to Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Md. After a short term as superior and spiritual director of the Sisters of Charity at Emmitsburg, Md., he accompanied the newly consecrated Bishop Flaget to Kentucky, arriving at Louisville on June 4, 1811. He served at St. Thomas Seminary, Bardstown, for years as superior and professor as well as missionary to the surrounding territory. In 1812 he founded the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and later gave them the rule of St. Vincent de Paul. On Aug. 15, 1819, he was consecrated by Flaget as titular bishop of Mauricastro and coadjutor of Bardstown. Although he had been suggested for the sees of Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, he was appointed the second bishop of Bardstown in 1832. He resigned, however, in 1833 to allow Flaget to resume the administration. A retiring, bookish, prayerful man, David served as pastor, organist, choirmaster, composer of church music, superior of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, pastor of the cathedral, rector of the seminary, and confessor and advisor to Flaget. He attended the Second Provincial Council of Baltimore in 1833.

Bibliography: c. fox, The Life of the Right Reverend John Baptist Mary David, 17611841 (U.S. Catholic Historical Society 9; New York 1925). m. r. mattingly, The Catholic Church on the Kentucky Frontier, 17851812 (Catholic University of America, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Latin, Language and Literature 25; Washington 1936). j. h. schauinger, Cathedrals in the Wilderness (Milwaukee 1952). m. j. spalding, Sketches of the Early Catholic Missions of Kentucky, 17871827 (Louisville, Ky.1844); Sketches of the Life, Times, and Character of the Rt. Rev. Benedict Joseph Flaget, First Bishop of Louisville (Louisville, Ky.1852). b. j. webb, The Centenary of Catholicity in Kentucky (Louisville, 1884). r. j. purcell, Dictionary of American Biography, ed. a. johnson and d. malone (New York, 192836) 5:8991.

[v. mc murry]

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