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MICHINGAN / MINNESOTA / ONTARIO MISSIONARY HISTORY: Franc Pirec, oče umne sadjereje na Kranjskem in apostolski misijonar med Indijani v severni Ameriki [Franc Pirec, A Father of Smart Cultivation of Fruit-Trees in Crain and A Missionary among Indians in N



The first biography of a Slovenian Roman Catholic priest Francis Xavier Pierz (Franc Pirc), a  missionary of 36 years to the Ottawa and Ojibwe Indians in present-day Michigan, Minnesota and Ontario.


This is the first separately published biography of Francis Xavier Pierz (Franc Pirc or archaically written Pirec), a Slovenian Catholic missionary in Michigan, Ontario, and Minnesota. The book includes Pietz’s biography as well as his personal notes.

Pierz came to North America in 1835, following the other Slovenian missionary Father Frederic Baraga, who worked in present-day Upper Michigan and Wisconsin. In the summer of 1836 Pierz was transferred to the mission of Sault Ste. Marie, where he also sailed to other missions around the shores of Lake Superior. Two years later, in 1838, he reached Father Baraga at La Pointe, Wisconsin, who convinced Pierz to re-establish the mission at Grand Portage, Minnesota.

At Grand Portage Pierz revived the mission, he arranged for the clearing of a plot of farmland which, as well as the sale of Indians’ surplus produce to nearby European-American miners. He also founded a school for the children of the mission. Only a year later he was ordered to move to take over the missions at Harbor Springs, Michigan, where remained there for 12 years. In Spring 1852, Pierz was recruited for the newly organized Minnesota Territory, where he was assigned a mission field, comprising the whole of Minnesota north of the Twin Cities.

A city Pierz in Morrison County, Minnesota, originally the predominantly Germanparish of Rich Prairie, was named after Franc Pirc, who retired there in 1871. Pierz died in his native country Slovenia in 1880.

The book was published seven years after Pierz’s death in Slovenian language in the Catholic publishing house in Klagenfurt in Austria. We could only trace two examples in institutions outside Slovenia (University of Notre Dame and Newberry Library).


References: OCLC 439374542. Grace McDonald, “Father Francis Pierz Missionary,” Minnesota History, vol. 10, 107-125; Drnovšek, Marjan. 1998. Usodna privlačnost Amerike: pričevanja izseljencev o prvih stikih z novim svetom. Ljubljana: Nova revija, p. 54.

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