Romagné, James René

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Missionary; b. Mayenne, France, July 10, 1762; d. Sacé, France, Nov. 19, 1836. During the French Revolution, Romagné refused to take the oath required by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, and in August 1792 he fled to England, where he spent six years, partly on the Isle of Wight. Summoned to Boston in 1799 by Rev. John Cheverus, he devoted 18 years to serving the Abenaki people and Catholics of Maine.

As an Indian agent, he secured land from the Massachusetts legislature in 1801 for the tribes on Passamaquoddy Bay, and later he was granted $300 for a permanent church at Point Pleasant. Hoping to stabilize the Native American population, he taught the women to spin and weave, and the men to enclose fields for agriculture. In 1804, he completed a prayer book in tribal language for the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes (The Indian Prayer Book, 1834). He also introduced vaccination among the Native Americans. In 1811 he and William Jenks headed a Massachusetts government commission to encourage the Penobscots to settle on and cultivate their lands. During the War of 1812, he persuaded the tribes to remain neutral and was treated considerately by the invading British.

In addition to his Native American missions, Romagné served the Catholics of Newcastle, Whitefield, Hallowell, Gardner, Bath, Waldoboro, Portland, and Boston. On Aug. 13, 1818, he exercised his ministry for the last time in Boston and sailed for France. Appointed parish priest of Sacé, France, he died there in 1836, leaving the church of Boston 4,000 francs.

Bibliography: Archives, Archdiocese of Baltimore, Letters of James Romagné to Bishop John Carroll. r. h. lord et al., History of the Archdiocese of Boston 16041943, 3 v. (New York 1944) v. 1. e. de l'epine, Bulletin de la Comm. Hist. de la Mayenne, 2e série, 10 (1895): 223.

[a. m. melville]