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Right Rev. John Baptiste Miège, S.J.
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Senior posting
See Kansas
Title Vicar Apostolic of Kansas
Period in office March 25, 1851—November 18, 1874
Consecration March 25, 1851
Predecessor none
Successor Louis Mary Fink, O.S.B.
Religious career
Priestly ordination September 7, 1847
Date of birth September 18, 1815(1815-09-18)
Place of birth La Forêt, Upper Savoy, Italy
Date of death July 21, 1884 (aged 68)
Place of death Woodstock, Maryland, United States

John Baptiste Miège, S.J. (September 18, 1815—July 21, 1884) was an Italian Savoyard prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Vicar Apostolic of Kansas from 1851 to 1874.


Early life

Miège was born in La Forêt, Upper Savoy, the youngest son of a wealthy and pious family.[1] At a young age he was committed to the care of his brother Urban, who was director of the diocesan seminary of Montiers.[2] After completing his literary course at age 19, he was dissuaded from a career in the army and remained at Montiers for two years, studying philosophy.[1] On October 23, 1836, Miège entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus (more commonly known as the Jesuits) at Milan[3]; he made his first vows on October 15, 1838.[1] In 1840 he became chief disciplinarian at the Jesuit boarding school in Milan.[2] He was briefly stationed at Chambéry from 1843 until 1844, when he was sent to further his studies in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University.[2]


While in Rome, Miège was ordained to the priesthood on September 7, 1847.[4] He then resumed his theological studies in 1848, but was soon forced to seek refuge in France following the Revolutions of 1848.[1] In 1849 he was sent by his superiors to work in the Indian missions in the United States, where he served as pastor of St. Charles's Church in St. Charles, Missouri.[3] He later taught moral theology at the Jesuit house of probation in Florissant, and became prefect of discipline and professor at St. Louis University in 1851.[2]

Episcopal ministry

On July 23, 1850, Miège was appointed the first Vicar Apostolic for the Indian Territory east of the Rocky Mountains, as well as Titular Bishop of Messene, by Pope Pius IX.[4] He initially declined the honor, but was then sent a formal mandate from the Holy See.[2] He received his episcopal consecration on March 25, 1851 from Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick, with Bishops James Oliver Van de Velde, S.J., and Jacques-Maurice De Saint Palais serving as co-consecrators, at St. Xavier's Church in St. Louis.[4] Miège departed from St. Louis in May 1851, and later arrived among the Potawatomi on the Kansas River.[3] At that time, his vicariate (which comprised the greater part of what is now Colorado, the Dakotas, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming) contained five churches, eight priests, and 5,000 Catholics.[3] In 1851 he erected the first Catholic church in Kansas, St. Mary's of the Immaculate Conception in Leavenworth, which he also designated as his cathedral.[1]

Miège conducted extensive pastoral visitations throughout the wild and remote regions over which his congregation was scattered, visiting the Indian villages, forts, trading posts, and growing towns and celebrating Mass on the rear end of his wagon.[3] [2] He also founded a girls' school for the Osages, placing it under the care of the Sisters of Loretto.[2] In August 1855, he established his episcopal see at the prosperous city of Leavenworth in order to better minister to the growing number of white settlers there.[1] As the number of churches and schools increased, Nebraska was formed into a separate vicariate in 1857 and the Kansas Territory was left under Miège's jurisdiction.[5]

He erected an episcopal residence in 1863, and laid the cornerstone of Immaculate Conception Cathedral in September 1864 and dedicated it in December 1868.[1] The cathedral left the vicariate in a debt of $100,000, which he reduced by about half after a trip to South America.[1] He then attended the First Vatican Council from 1869 to 1870.[4] In 1871, desiring a return to the private ranks of the Jesuits, Miège sent his petition to be relieved of his office to the Holy See, which instead gave him Louis Mary Fink, O.S.B., as a coadjutor.[3] His resignation as Vicar Apostolic was later accepted on November 18, 1874.[4] He left 48 priests and 71 churches.[2]

Later life

In January 1874, Miège briefly resumed his duties at St. Louis University.[2] He was then assigned to the Jesuit seminary at Woodstock, Maryland, there serving as a spiritual director.[3] From there he was sent in 1877 to Detroit, Michigan, where he founded the University of Detroit and served as its first president.[1]

He returned to Woodstock in 1880, and was stricken with paralysis in 1883.[2] He later died at Woodstock, aged 68.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society". Kansas State Historical Society.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Clarke, Richard Henry. "RIGHT REV. JOHN BAPTISTE MIEGE, D.D.". Lives of the Deceased Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Leavenworth". Catholic Encyclopedia.  
  4. ^ a b c d e "Bishop John Baptiste Miège, S.J.".  
  5. ^ "Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas".  
Preceded by
Vicar Apostolic of Kansas
Succeeded by
Louis Mary Fink, O.S.B.


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