Dubourg, Louis William Valentine

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DUBOURG, LOUIS WILLIAM VALENTINE

Bishop; b. Cap Français, Santo Domingo, Feb. 14, 1766; d. Besançon, France, Dec. 12, 1833. He was taken to France as an infant, made his classical studies at the Collège de Guyenne, and entered the Seminary of St. Sulpice in Paris in 1786. He was ordained probably in 1788, but records were destroyed in the French Revolution, which also forced his flight to Baltimore, Md., where he became a member of the Society of St. Sulpice in 1795. Bishop John carroll appointed him third president of Georgetown College (now University), Washington, D.C., in 1796, and he served until 1798, when he left to direct the Sulpician College in Cuba. Upon his return to Baltimore, he founded St. Mary's College (1803; University since 1805) and aided (Bl.) Elizabeth Bayley seton's early endeavors in Maryland.

In 1812 Dubourg was appointed administrator of the Diocese of Louisiana, which had been without a bishop since 1801. The diocese was crippled by lack of staff and by the intrigues of Anthony de Sedella, a Capuchin angered by the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Despite these troubles, Dubourg, with the aid of Ursuline nuns, assisted in the defense of New Orleans, La., against the British in 1815. On Sept. 24, 1815, Dubourg was consecrated bishop of Louisiana by Cardinal Joseph Doria-Pamfili in Rome. There he obtained recruits for his diocese, notably the Lazarist Fathers Felix de Andreis and Joseph Rosati. Sedella's machinations in New Orleans continued, however, and Dubourg settled in St. Louis, Mo., after his return to the U.S. on Jan. 5, 1818. During the next three years he undertook the construction of a cathedral in St. Louis and sought to promote education. A seminary was opened under Rosati, a girls' school was established at Florissant, Mo., under (Bl.) Philippine Duchesne, and St. Louis College (later University) was operated by the diocesan clergy. Once hostility waned in the South, however, Dubourg returned to New Orleans (1820), where even Sedella welcomed his arrival. There, in addition to founding new schools, he promoted northern Native American missions. During a visit to Washington, D.C., in 1822, he persuaded the U.S. War Department to support schools for the natives. At the same time he convinced the Maryland Jesuits, among whom was Rev. Pierre de Smet, to undertake mission work in Missouri, where they established the first school for Native American boys and later took over St. Louis College.

On March 25, 1824, Dubourg consecrated the Lazarist, Rosati, as coadjutor, but this followed a long period of dissension induced by Dubourg's recommendation of such alternate choices as Rev. Angelo Inglesi, a gifted adventurer who was but recently ordained. The rift caused by these events led to Dubourg's resignation, which was accepted in 1826. Leo XII then nominated Dubourg for the Diocese of Montauban, France. In France the bishop resumed writing, publishing his Concordance for the Four Gospels (1830). In 1833 he was promoted to the archbishopric of Besançon. Dubourg officiated but once in his new see; he died after a month in office.

Bibliography: Archives, Archdiocese of St. Louis. Archives, Congregation de Propaganda Fide.

[p. j. rahill]

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