The UP Catholic photo by John FeeIn 2012, Bishop Sample holds a button with Venerable Frederic Baraga presented to him by Fr. Ben Paris and Len McKeen.
                                                                           The UP Catholic photo by John Fee
In 2012, Bishop Sample holds a button with Venerable Frederic Baraga presented to him by Fr. Ben Paris and Len McKeen.


The first bishop in the Upper Peninsula was known to rise at 3 a.m. in summer and 4 a.m. in winter and spend three hours in prayer.

Archbishop Alexander Sample considers Venerable Frederic Baraga a hero. He prays for the pioneer bishop each morning and lately has been asking the old missionary for help in his Portland ministry. Archbishop Sample said he is sad to leave behind a years-long project to have Bishop Baraga recognized as a saint.

Though orphaned at 14, Frederic Baraga went on to study law at the University of Vienna. Inspired by a meeting with St. Clement Hofbauer, Baraga joined the priesthood and arrived in America in 1830. He would spend the next 37 years traveling the Great Lakes region ministering to people from the Odawa and Ojibwe tribes. He established missions throughout the area, traveling on foot and by canoe during summer months and snowshoes in the winter. He was called “Apostle of the Lakelands” and the “Snowshoe Priest.”

From 1840 to his death, he ministered to Native Americans and immigrants who moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to work in iron and copper mines. He wrote long accounts of his missionary activities and prayer books and catechisms in Indian languages. He was named bishop in 1853.

Weakened by a stroke, Bishop Baraga died on Jan. 19, 1868. The day of his funeral was declared a civic day of mourning in the city of Marquette.
The Diocese of Marquette has just broken ground on a new tomb for the pioneer bishop.

— History from the Bishop Baraga Association and Archives