Biography of Rt.-Rev. J. P. Machebeuf of Denver Colorado

Rt.-Rev. J. P. Machebeuf is remembered by all who knew him as a talented bishop, a tireless worker and a genial friend. He was born in Rione, France, August 11, 1812, and was ordained to the priesthood on Christmas of 1836. For three years he was in charge of a parish near Clermont, after which, in 1839, he came to America. He spent a short time in Cincinnati, where he made a study of the English language and became familiar with its use. January 1, 1840, he was ordered to Sandusky, Ohio, where he built the first church in the place, it being a fine stone edifice, and he also founded an academy in the same city. In 1844 he visited his old home in France and on his return to the United States brought with him ten sisters of the Ursuline order, introducing into this country one of its finest body of teachers.

In January, 1851, Father Machebeuf left Sandusky and joined Bishop Lamy at New Orleans, from which place they went to San Antonio, and thence traversed the entire breadth of the state of Texas, accompanied by a guard of soldiers. On their arrival at their destination, Santa Fe, the people of that place gave them a brilliant reception, showing every courtesy to their new bishop, Lamy and his vicar-general, Machebeuf. The frequent absences of the bishop on missionary tours left the charge of the diocese almost wholly upon his vicar-general, who faithfully discharged every duty. Afterward, for six years, he was pastor of the Albuquerque parish, and besides his duties there, he visited all the military posts on the frontier of New Mexico. In 1858, when there was a partial organization of Arizona, Bishop Lamy was made ecclesiastical administrator of Arizona, and Father Machebeuf was sent to take possession of the missions established by the former missionaries at different points. These missions had been under the bishop of Sonora, Mexico, whom Father Machebeuf was obliged to interview. After considerable delay he reached the Villa de Alamos, where he met the bishop and conferred with him in regard to the matter. On his return to Santa Fe he was enabled to report to Bishop Lamy that his mission had been most successful. In 1859 he was again sent to Arizona, this time to take charge of all its missions. After a short time Bishop Lamy ordered him to return to Santa Fe, and on doing so he learned that the bishop had been granted by the Pope jurisdiction over what is now the state of Colorado. He was asked to come to Colorado, and, in company with Father J. B. Raverdy, in September, 1860, left Santa Fe for Denver, where they arrived the last of October. In 1866 he was made vicar-apostolic, and in 1868 he was consecrated a bishop in the Cincinnati Cathedral. He remained a resident of Denver until his death, August 10, 1889.

Of the results of the bishop’s work in Denver, too much cannot be said in praise. Without doubt he was a man, not only of great piety and deep faith in God, but also of unusual executive ability and determination of will. His church, on Stout street, in Denver, was the first brick house of worship built in the state. In his diocese there are eighty or more priests, ninety churches, one hundred and twenty or more stations, a large number of academics and parochial schools, many hospitals, an immense Catholic population; and all this largely due to the pioneer work of the great-hearted Bishop Machebeuf.


Source: Portrait and biographical record of Denver and vicinity, Colorado : containing portraits and biographies of many well known citizens of the past and present : together with biographies and portraits of all the presidents of the United States.. Chicago: Chapman Pub. Co., 1898.


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