A young Fr. Mazzuchelli

Father Samuel Charles Mazzuchelli, O.P. ( November 4, 1806 - February 23, 1864 ) was a pioneer Italian Catholic missionary who helped bring the church to the Iowa-Illinois-Wisconsin tri-state area. He founded a number of parishes in the area, and was the architect for a number of parish buildings.



Fr. Mazzuchelli historical marker

Father Mazzuchelli was born in Milan, Italy on November 4, 1806. In 1828 he left Italy for the United States, spending a year in the Cincinnati area. There he was ordained a Dominican priest in 1830.[1] After about five years serving the church in upper Michigan and northern Wisconsin, Mazzuchelli arrived in the Dubuque area. During his time in Wisconsin, he faced a number of challenges, such as hostility from other Christian denominations.

Mazzuchelli arrived in the mid 1830s to what would later become Dubuque, Iowa. While there, he reorganized the parish and named it Saint Raphael's, which later became the Cathedral parish when the Dubuque Diocese was formed in 1837. He assisted Bishop Mathias Loras during the first few years after the founding of the Diocese and worked extensively in what would eventually become the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin. There he founded over 30 parishes and designed and built over 20 church buildings, along with a number of civic buildings.[1] Three of those parishes were named after the three Archangels: Saint Raphael's in Dubuque, Saint Michael's in Galena, Illinois, and Saint Gabriel's in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. In 1848, he founded St. Clara Academy ( now Dominican University of Illinois), a frontier school for young women. In 1849, he founded the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters.

Many remembered Mazzuchelli as a kind and gentlemanly priest. He was able to break down the cultural barriers that existed at the time and appeal to many different ethnic groups. The Irish he ministered to called him "Father Matthew Kelly".[2] He died on February 23, 1864 after contracting an illness from a sick parishioner.[3]



Fr. Mazzuchelli's grave in Benton, Wisconsin

Father Mazzuchelli is buried at Saint Patrick's Cemetery in Benton, Wisconsin. Over the years a case for elevating him to Sainthood has been pending with the church. In 1993, Pope John Paul II declared Father Mazzuchelli Venerable, the first step in the process of elevating an individual to sainthood. In preparation for the 200th anniversary of Mazzuchelli's birth in November 2006, those campaigning for Mazzuchelli to be elevated to sainthood began a number of activities to draw attention to that particular cause. The Sinsinawa Dominican sisters have been particularly active in this campaign.

In August 2008, an official inquiry into a presumed miracle performed through the intercession of Mazzuchelli was completed in the Diocese of Madison. Robert Uselmann, a resident of Monona, Wisconsin had gone to Sinsinawa Mound with his family in 2001 to pray to Mazzuchelli for his intercession in curing him of cancer. While there he prayed with the sisters, using Mazzuchelli's penance chain. Uselmann later discovered that a cancerous tumor had disappeared from his lung.[1]

Bishop Robert C. Morlino of the Diocese of Madison opened a diocesan tribunal at the request of the Sinsinawa Dominican sisters, which concluded its non-judgmental investigation and sent the results to Rome. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints is expected to make a ruling on the "presumed miracle" sometime in the near future. If Uselmann's healing is judged miraculous, Mazzuchelli would be eligible for beatification, the next step in the process of naming a saint within the church.

In 2006 a new middle school built by the Holy Family Catholic School System in Dubuque was named after Mazzuchelli. The school opened for the 2006-2007 academic year.[4]

Parishes founded by Fr. Mazzuchelli


A stained glass image of Fr. Mazzuchelli at St. Raphael's Cathedral, Dubuque, Iowa.

This list is incomplete. You can help by adding to it.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Uhler, Mary C. (August 28, 2008). "Cause for sainthood moves forward". Catholic Herald. Retrieved February 26, 2009. 
  2. "Term: Father Samuel Mazzuchelli" Dictionary of Wisconsin History
  3. Mazzuchelli, Samuel Charles 1806 - 1864
  4. Middle School Named in Honor of Fr. Mazzuchelli Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters website

External links


  • Furste, Madelin. "1 Step Closer to Being A Saint," Telegraph Herald, Dubuque, Iowa.
Stages of Canonization in the Roman Catholic Church
  Servant of God   →   Venerable   →   Blessed   →   Saint  

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