1833
Samuel Mazzuchelli, extraordinary missionary and philologist.


Samuel Mazzuchelli (1806-1864) holds a foremost place as an outstanding missionary and translator of Indian languages. The son of a wealthy banker, he was born in Milan in 1806, came to the United States in 1827, learned English, and was ordained a Dominican priest in Ohio in 1830. For the next thirty-four years his was a labor of love to minister and bring the word of God in an amiable manner to his white and Indian flock throughout the upper mid-west. He carried on his vocation under the most trying primitive conditions, often alone and confronted with numerous perils. He served admirably both his white parishioners, many of which were Irish and to whom he was known as "Fr. Kelly," and to the Chippewa people. His 1833 publication of an almanac in the Chippewa language was regarded as perhaps the first to be printed in that language and the first book published in Wisconsin. For years he was the only priest between Lake Huron and the Mississippi region of Wisconsin and Iowa that was essentially frontier country. He appropriated the culture of the local natives and whites: French fur trappers, Irish and German miners and farmers. He got along well with the Menominee and Winnebago natives, joined in hunting and fishing for food, demonstrated respect for their culture, and spoke in their behalf against government removal policies. In addition to the Chippewa almanac, he published a Winnebago prayer book.

A man of learning as well as a man of faith, Fr. Mazzuchelli's designing talents were noteworthy. The old state Capitol in Iowa City is attributed to him as well as over two dozen churches. He founded a college in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin, and is considered the founder of the Order of Dominican Sisters of the Holy Rosary. His death in 1864 as a result of exposure to extreme cold weather while on a sick call affirms his determination to extend himself in behalf of his people. A true hero of the American West, in 1993 the Catholic Church accorded Fr. Mazzuchelli's the title of Venerable, the beginning step toward canonization.






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