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Placidus Louis Chappelle
Archbishop of the diocese of Santa Fe, is a native of France, his birth having occurred at Mende, in the department of Lozere, on the 28th of August, 1842. He descended from a French family of land-owners, which also numbered many members who found entrance into professional life, especially the ministry. They belonged to the higher middle class of that country and were very prominent in the church. An uncle of Archbishop Chapelle was sent on a special mission by the Holy See to Hayti, where he succeeded in negotiating a concordat between the republic and the Holy See in the year 1861.
Archbishop Chapelle pursued a classical course of study in his native town and afterward attended the College of Enghien, in Belgium. In 1859, in company with his uncle before mentioned, he came to America and in St. Mary's Seminary of Baltimore, Maryland, he pursued his philosophical and theological course, which he completed in 1863. He was then too young to be ordained, so he began teaching the classics in St. Charles' College, Maryland, where he continued for two years. On the 29th of June, 1865, he was ordained for the priesthood by the Most Rev. M. J. Spalding, Archbishop of Baltimore, and through the succeeding five years was engaged in missionary work in Montgomery county, Maryland. In 1868, after due examination, he received from St. Mary's University the title of Doctor of Divinity, and in 1869 he accompanied Archbishop Spalding to the Vatican Council as his secretary. In 1870 he was appointed to take charge of St. Joseph's Church, of Baltimore, and continued as pastor of that church until 1882, at which time he was made rector of St. Matthew's Church in Washington, D. C., one of the most important churches of his denomination in the country. While he was serving there, among the communicants of his church were General Sheridan, General Rosecrans, the family of General Sherman, General Vincent and many others of high standing.
In 1891 Archbishop Chapelle was appointed coadjutor of the venerable Archbishop Salpointe, of Santa Fe, who resigned on account of old age and infirmity in January, 1894, at which time he was succeeded by the gentleman whose name heads this review. He is now discharging the duties of his high and responsible office, and the work in his diocese is progressing at a rapid rate. Archbishop Chapelle was one of the seven theologians to prepare the work for the Plenary Council held in Baltimore in 1884, and for several years he was vice-president of the Catholic Indian Bureau, and has taken a deep interest in the moral as well as material welfare of that race to whom the people of the United States owe so much; indeed, since he was called to his holy work in New Mexico it has been his chief desire to use his best endeavors for the benefit of all the races that reside within the bounds of the Territory.
Archbishop Chapelle is the owner of a fine library of rare and valuable works. He is genial and social in character, and, notwithstanding his exalted position, is as approachable as a little child. He is a fluent, earnest and eloquent speaker, and as a church dignitary has a very wide acquaintance throughout the United States and enjoys the love and esteem of all who know him. His ripe scholarship and broad general information and his devotion to his work well fit him for his holy calling, and Archbishop Chapelle is recognized as a power in the Catholic community.