Charles de La Croix
Missionary, b. at Hoorbeke-St-Corneille, Belgium, Oct. 28, 1792; d. at Ghent, Aug. 20, 1869
De La Croix, CHARLES, missionary, b. at Hoorbeke-St-Corneille, Belgium, October 28, 1792; d. at Ghent, August 20, 1869. He was educated at the seminary in Ghent. With his fellow-students he resisted the bishop forced upon the diocese by Napoleon I and was imprisoned with his brother Joseph in the fortress of Wesel, where the latter died. After the fall of the empire, De La Croix resumed his studies, was ordained in Ghent by Bishop Dubourg of Louisiana and, with several other seminarians and some Flemish workmen, followed the bishop to the United States. In May, 1818, he was sent to Barrens, Perry County, Missouri, where, beside his missionary duties, he was to superintend the building of a seminary for the Louisiana diocese. After the arrival of Father Rosati, president of the new seminary, Father De La Croix went to Florissant, also called St. Ferdinand, near St. Louis (December 3, 1818). Here, with the help of the newly arrived colony of Religious of the Sacred Heart, he labored zealously and successfully, not only among the Catholic families of the district, but also among the Osage Indians of the Missouri plains. He prepared the way for De Smet and the other Jesuit missionaries, who came to Florissant in 1823. When Father Van Quickenborne, S.J., arrived with his eight companions, all Belgians like himself, De La Croix had almost completed and paid for the brick church, started a farm, and opened a missionary field for the work of the young Jesuits. Having been appointed to St. Michael’s parish in Lower Louisiana, Father De La Croix prepared for the Religious of the Sacred Heart the convent in which they opened a boarding-school in 1828. The following year he went to Belgium, broken in health, but returned to his mission with funds collected in Belgium to build a substantial church which was completed in 1832. In 1833 he went back to Belgium, where he became a canon of the cathedral of Ghent, a position which he held until his death.