Maréchal, Ambrose

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Third archbishop of baltimore, Md.; b. Ingres, near Orléans, France, Aug. 28, 1764; d. Baltimore, Jan. 29, 1828. After early classical studies at Orléans, he yielded to his parents' desires and chose the law as his profession. Shortly thereafter, however, he entered the priesthood, and began his theological studies at the diocesan seminary of Orléans. He joined the Sulpicians, and was ordained at Bordeaux in 1792. Then, accompanied by fellow Sulpicians Gabriel Richard and François Ciquard, he sailed for America and arrived at Baltimore on June 24, 1792. He first ministered to the Maryland Catholics in St. Mary's County (179293) and then went to Bohemia on the Eastern Shore of maryland, where he served as pastor and administrator of the manor until 1799. He returned to St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, to teach theology (17991801), and then he taught philosophy at Georgetown College, Washington, D.C. (180102). In 1803 he was recalled to France because his superior general was discouraged with the Baltimore attempt and needed Sulpicians for the diocesan seminaries of France, where Napoleon's government had recently allowed them to return. Between 1803 and 1811 Maréchal taught in the diocesan seminaries of Saint-Flour, Lyons, Aix, and Marseilles. In 1811 the Sulpicians were again expelled from the French seminaries; Maréchal returned to the U.S. in 1812 as professor of theology in the Baltimore seminary; he later acted as temporary president of St. Mary's College (1815).

Although he had previously declined episcopal nomination to New York and Philadelphia, Maréchal was named coadjutor with right of succession to Abp. Leonard Neale of Baltimore (1817). However, the bulls did not arrive until November 10, more than five months after Neale's death. Hence on Dec. 14, 1817, Maréchal was consecrated archbishop of Baltimore by Bp. Jean Cheverus of Boston, Mass. The new archbishop immediately visited his extensive diocese, which included 100,000 Catholics in Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and the territory west of Georgia to the Mississippi. He restored order where both clerical and lay insurgents were causing trouble; and he advanced the work on the Baltimore cathedral, begun under Abp. John carroll in 1806, and dedicated it on May 31, 1821. During his ad limina visit to Rome later that year, he suggested to the Holy See that nominations for American bishoprics should come from the provincial bishops of the U.S., a policy still followed. He also succeeded in securing advice on the government of lay trustees and managed, temporarily, to quiet the problems of trusteeism. Finally, he persuaded Pius VII to raise his diocesan seminary of St. Mary to the rank of a pontifical university by letters dated April 18, 1822.

To secure the uniform development of the Church in the U.S. and plan for its future growth, Maréchal envisioned a provincial council, but ill health and eventually death intervened. After a journey to Canada in 1826 he was taken ill while confirming at Emmitsburg, Md.; he never recovered fully. His writings consist almost entirely of letters and documents, called "scholarly in style," which may be found in T. A. Hughes's History of the Society of Jesus in North America.

Bibliography: r. h. clarke, Lives of the Deceased Bishops of the Catholic Church in the U.S., 4 v. (New York 188789). c.g. herbermann, The Sulpicians in the United States (New York 1916). t. a. hughes, History of the Society of Jesus in North America: Colonial and Federal, 3 v. in 4 (New York 190717). Memorial Volume of the Centenary of St. Mary's Seminary of St. Sulpice (Baltimore 1891). j. w. ruane, The Beginnings of the Society of St. Sulpice in the United States, 17911829 (Catholic University of America, Studies in American Church History 22; Washington 1935).

[c. m. cuyler]