John J. Chanche

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The Right Reverend
John Joseph Chanche, S.S.
Bishop of Natchez
Daguerreotype of Bishop Chanche
See Diocese of Natchez
In office March 14, 1841—July 22, 1852
Predecessor None
Successor James Oliver Van de Velde, S.J.
Ordination June 5, 1819
Consecration March 14, 1841
by Samuel Eccleston, S.S.
Personal details
Born October 4, 1795
Baltimore, Maryland
Died July 22, 1852
Frederick, Maryland
Signature John Joseph Chanche, S.S.'s signature

The Right Reverend John Joseph Mary Benedict Chanche, S.S., (October 4, 1795 – July 22, 1852) was the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Natchez from 1841 to 1852.

Early Life and Family[edit]

Chanche was born October 4, 1795, in Baltimore, Maryland. He was born to parents who had fled to Baltimore from the French colony of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti), during the Haitian Revolution (which itself occurred at about the same time as the French Revolution).

Chanche entered St. Mary's Seminary, where he joined the Sulpicians, and was ordained a priest on June 5, 1819. He was then appointed a professor at the school. In 1833, he was chosen as Master of Ceremonies for the Second Provincial Council of Baltimore, a major step by the bishops of the nation in organizing its structure. Chanche was named Vice President of the seminary, and in 1834 succeeded Samuel Eccleston, S.S., as its President.

Chanche was offered the post of coadjutor first to the Archbishop of Baltimore and then to the Bishop of Boston successively, but declined both. He was still President of St. Mary's when he was appointed Bishop of Natchez in 1841.

Bishop of Natchez[edit]

Styles of
John Joseph Chanche, S.S.
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Right Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style His Excellency
Posthumous style none

The Diocese of Natchez was created on July 28, 1837, and although it encompassed the entire state of Mississippi, a large geographic region, nearly three years passed before Chanche was appointed as its first bishop on December 15, 1840.

Chanche was consecrated March 14, 1841 by Archbishop Eccleston at the Baltimore Basilica. Arriving at Natchez in May 1841,[1] he met there the only priest in the state, Father Brogard, who was only there temporarily. Taking up the role of a simple missionary, Bishop Chanche began to collect the Catholics and organize a diocese. Chanche set to work building a diocesan infrastructure.

In 1842 Bishop Chanche laid the cornerstone of St. Mary Cathedral, dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. In 1847 he invited the Sisters of Charity to Natchez.

At the First Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1852, Chanche served the role of "chief promoter." He died in Baltimore shortly after the sessions of the Council, at Frederick, Maryland, leaving his diocese with 11 priests, 11 churches erected, and 13 attendant missions. He was buried in the Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore.

In 2007 the body of Bishop Chanche was exhumed and returned Natchez to be reinterred in a special garden near the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the grounds of the original cathedral of his diocese at Natchez, now the Basilica of St. Mary.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gandy, Joan. "St. Mary exhibit tells history of first bishop". The Natchez Democrat. Archived from the original on 2007-07-30. Retrieved 2007-09-04.  alternate URL
  2. ^ Muth, Chaz. "Body of first bishop of Mississippi exhumed in Baltimore". The Catholic Review. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2007-09-04. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "article name needed". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. 

External links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Natchez
Succeeded by
James Oliver Van de Velde