Silas Chatard

Silas Francis Marean Chatard (13 December 1834 – 7 September 1918) was a Roman Catholic Bishop of Indianapolis in the United States.

Silas Francis Marean Chatard
Bishop of Indianapolis
Bishop Silas Francis Marean Chatard.jpg
Other postsBishop of Vincennes, Indiana (1878–1898)
Rector of the American College, Rome (1868–1878)
OrdinationJune 14, 1862
ConsecrationMay 12, 1878
by Alessandro Cardinal Franchi
Personal details
Born(1834-12-13)December 13, 1834
Baltimore, Maryland
DiedSeptember 7, 1918(1918-09-07) (aged 83)


He was born Silas Francis Marean Chatard in Baltimore, Maryland on December 13, 1834 to Ferdinand E. Chatard and Eliza Marean. Both his father, Ferdinand, and his paternal grandfather, Pierre, an emigrant from Santo Domingo, West Indies, were physicians in Baltimore. His paternal grandmother, Eliza Anna Chatard, was a financial supporter of the Oblate Sisters of Providence.[1]

Raised in a prominent family, he attended Mount Saint Mary's College in Emmitsburg (now Mount Saint Mary's University), and the Maryland University School of Medicine, receiving a doctorate in medicine.[2] He served his residency at the Baltimore Alms House.

Soon afterward, he felt the call to priesthood and in 1857 began studying at the Pontificio Collegio Urbano de Propaganda Fide in Rome. He was ordained on June 14, 1862, and received a Doctor of Divinity degree the next year. Following his ordination, he served as Vice-Rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome. In 1868, he became Rector of the college. During his time as Rector, the First Vatican Council was held, and was able to meet many American Bishops who stayed at the College while in Rome.[2] Chatard was apparently a favorite of Pope Pius IX.[2]

On March 26, 1878 he was named Bishop of the Diocese of Vincennes, in Indiana. At his consecration in Rome on June 14, 1878, he switched his first and middle name, taking the name of Francis Silas. He was installed in the cathedral at Vincennes on August 11, 1878 and he went almost immediately to Indianapolis, arriving there on August 17, 1878.

Said to be "the most scholarly clergyman in America",[3] in 1883, Chatard was rumored as the new Archbishop of Philadelphia,[3] That appointment never took place for reasons unknown. Chatard did have some impact on the American Church, however. He aligned himself with the more conservative wing of the Church, led by Michael Corrigan of New York and others. The more progressive wing was led by the likes of Cardinal Gibbons and Archbishop Ireland.

Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral, Indianapolis

While bishop, he oversaw the movement of the Episcopal see of the diocese of Vincennes to Indianapolis in 1898.[4] He established his see at Saint John the Evangelist Church, which served as the proto-cathedral for the diocese in Indianapolis from 1878 to 1906, when Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral was built.[5][6] Following the move, he was named as the first bishop of the newly renamed Diocese of Indianapolis.

In January 1899, he suffered a stroke, from which he never fully recovered.[4] By the time of his death on September 7, 1918, at the age of 83, he had enormously changed the face of the Catholic Church in Indiana. During his tenure the Catholic population of the diocese increased from 80,000 to 130,000.[4] His body was interred in the crypt of the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Indianapolis. On June 8, 1976, Bishop Chatard’s remains were transferred from the cathedral to the Calvary Cemetery, Chapel Mausoleum, Indianapolis.

The diocese of Indianapolis was split in 1944. The old see city of Vincennes became part of the new diocese of Evansville with Indianapolis being raised to the status of Archdiocese.[7]

In the 1960s, establishment of Bishop Chatard High School began.[8] The high school is located in Indianapolis, Indiana.


  1. ^ Herbermann, Charles George. The Sulpicians in the United States, Encyclopedia Press, 1916, p. 232  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b c "Francis Silas Marean Chatard", Indiana Catholic History
  3. ^ a b "Bishop Francis s. Chatard", The New York Times, December 18, 1883
  4. ^ a b c Woods, Marcus Eugene II, "Chatard, Francis Silas Marean", The Encyclopedia of Indiana
  5. ^ "Our History". St. John the Evangelist Church. Archived from the original on 2012-01-16. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
  6. ^ Thomas C. Widner (1984). Our Family Album, A Journey of Faith: Sketches of the People and Parishes of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis: In Celebration of her 150th Anniversary. Indianapolis, IN: Criterion Press.
  7. ^ David M. Cheney. "Year 1944, Diocese Events". Retrieved 2015-03-08.
  8. ^ Bishop Chatard High School

External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
See established
Bishop of Indianapolis
Succeeded by
Joseph Chartrand
Preceded by
Jacques-Maurice De Saint Palais
Bishop of Vincennes
Succeeded by
See suppressed
Academic offices
Preceded by
William G. McCloskey
Rector of the Pontifical North American College
Succeeded by
Louis Hostlot