Frederic Baraga was born in Slovenia to a very pious family of the lower nobility when George Washington was president of a newly founded republic in the New World. The ‘Northwest Territories,’ where this newly born child was destined to spend thirty years of his life as a missionary to the Indian Nations of the western Great Lakes, had just been ceded to the new nation upon her independence from England and would soon be incorporated into the United States.
After being counselled by his friend and confessor in Vienna, St. Clement Mary Hofbauer, he was ordained and after a few years service in Slovenia he decided to become a missionary in the new world and was accepted by Bishop Fenwick for work in the diocese of Cincinnatti.
Bishop Baraga was well known and loved during his lifetime, and his letters about his missionary work among the Chippewa and other Indian Nations were published widely in Europe, inspiring Saint John Neumann and Father Francis Xavier Pierz, among many others, to emigrate to the United States. He spent his life working for the conversion of the native inhabitants of this new young nation, and most certainly wished that the Faith would be more widely accepted here by all men, natives and immigrants alike.
Venerable Irenaeus Frederic Baraga (June 29, 1797–January 19, 1868), Pray for us!