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History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Mathias Loras

MATHIAS LORAS, the first Catholic Bishop of Iowa, was born at Lyons, France, August 30, 1792. His father, who was a loyalist at the time of the French Revolution, fell a victim to the “reign of terror.” Young Loras studied at Lyons several years and became a priest in 1817. He came to America in 1829. His fine ability attracted attention and in a few years he became Vicar-General. When the Diocese of Dubuque was established Father Loras was made bishop. He returned to France and procured six missionaries for the new diocese and reached Dubuque in April, 1839. The diocese embraced all of the territory north of Missouri between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in which were more than 30,000 Indians who were in his charge. Throughout this region he established schools. He sat in the Fourth Council of Baltimore in 1840, in the Fifth in 1843, the Sixth in 1846 and again in 1849. After many ineffectual efforts in 1843 he succeeded in obtaining a religious community for the girls' school of his diocese. In 1854 he had established thirty-one Catholic churches in the State of Iowa with a membership of more than 15,000. During nearly twenty years of devoted work for the church he won the esteem of thousands of its best citizens. He died on the 19th of February, 1858, at Dubuque.