Benedict Joseph Flaget

Benedict Joseph Flaget (1763 - 1850) was a U.S. bishop. He served as the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Bardstown between 1808 and 1839, then as bishop of the Diocese of Louisville between 1839 and 1850 when the See was transferred to Louisville in 1839.

Early life

Benedict Joseph Flaget was born at Contournat, France on November 7, 1763. His father died before he was born, and his mother died when he was only two years old. He and his two older brothers were raised in the care of an aunt and uncle, Canon Benoît Flaget.

Education and Call to Ministry

At the age of 17 Flaget entered The Society of Saint-Sulpice, at Clermont, France. He was ordained a priest June 1, 1788. Flaget taught theology for two years at Nantes, and later was chairman of the seminary at Angers until the institution was closed by the French Revolution.

Early Church work in America

In 1792 he determined to devote his life to the American mission and arrived at Baltimore March 29, 1792. After spending but two months in America, the Bishop of Baltimore, John Carroll, sent him on his missionary work to Fort Vincennes in the Indiana Territory. His journey west on horseback was a route that took him through the Allegheny Mountains to Fort Pitt, the area now known as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A letter of introduction from bishop Carrol provided an introduction to General "Mad" Anthony Wayne. Travel was to be by flatboat down the Ohio River. Due to low water conditions he stayed at Fort Pitt for a few months, learning the English language and tending to persons afflicted by an outbreak of smallpox in the area. Flaget left Pittsburgh in November and travelled down the Ohio River to the Falls of the Ohio (Louisville), where he continued on his journey to Fort Vincennes with George Rogers Clark. They reached the fort on December 21.

At Vincennes he founded the Old Cathedral Library (now a Museum), the oldest library in Indiana. At Vincennes he ministered to the Catholics at the small parish located there and also tended to the Native Americans, especially nursing the Miamis and other Indian tribes, and baptized many of them.

On April 23, 1795 Flaget was recalled to Baltimore, returning by travelling down the river to New Orleans and returning to Baltimore by ship. He taught at Georgetown College for three years.

Flaget left Baltimore in 1798 bound for Cuba with other Sulpicians. They were not permitted to celebrate Mass in Havana. He contracted yellow fever and was left behind when the other Sulpicians returned to America. He recovered and acted as a tutor to the son of a wealthy Spaniard. Later he was permitted to celebrate Mass at the church of the Capuchin friars. He returned to Baltimore in November 1801.


He was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Bardstown April 8, 1808 and ordained November 4, 1810. This was the largest diocese ever formed in the United States and comprised the area equivalent to 10 states, including Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana and others. Today this area comprises 35 dioceses.

Returning from Bordeaux, France after his appointment, he brought other early missionaries to America: Simon Bruté, Guy Chabrat, Anthony Deydier, James Derigaud and Julian Romeuf. The first two became bishops in America.

He built St. Joseph Cathedral in Bardstown as the center of the diocese. He was the first and only bishop of Bardstown, since the diocese was removed to Louisville, though Bardstown remains a Titular See.

Eventually the diocese was subdivided, the first being the Diocese of Cincinnati. Flaget was the principal consecrator of the new diocese's first bishop, Bishop Edward Dominic Fenwick, O.P.

Though he resigned May 7, 1832 as bishop he was appointed again March 17, 1833. The Bardstown See was transferred to Louisville, Kentucky on February 13, 1841, becoming the Diocese of Louisville.

Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget died February 12, 1850.


Several Institions have been named for Benedict Joseph Flaget:
* Bishop Flaget School - Chillicothe, Ohio
* Flaget Memorial Hospital - Bardstown, Kentucky
* Flaget Elementary School - Vincennes, Indiana
* Flaget Center (Senior Center) - Louisville, Kentucky
* Flaget Community Center - Louisville, Kentucky
* Knights of Columbus, Flaget Council - Chillicothe, Ohio
* Bishop Flaget High School - Louisville, Kentucky (now closed)


* [ Succession of Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget, P.S.S.]
* "Cathedrals in the Wilderness", J. Herman Schauinger, The Bruce Publishing Company (1952).

External links

* [ Biography of Benedict Joseph Flaget]
* [ Bishop Flaget School]
* [ Flaget Memorial Hospital]
* [ Flaget Elementary School]
* [ The French Sulpicians]
* [ Knights of Columbus, Flaget Council 1071]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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