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James Gillis

Scottish bishop, b. 1802, d. 1864

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Gillis, JAMES, Scottish bishop; b. at Montreal, Canada, April 7, 1802; d. at Edinburgh, February 24, 1864. he was the only son of a native Banffshire, who had emigrated to Canada and married there. Educated in the Sulpician college at Montreal, where he acquired a perfect knowledge of French, he came to Scotland in 1816, and next year entered the seminary at Aquhorties, studying afterwards at St. Nicholass College in Paris, and at Issy. He was ordained priest on June 9, 1827, and was stationed at Edinburgh, where his preaching soon attracted attention. He visited France in 1829 to collect money for his church, and again in 1831 to raise funds for the foundation of an Ursuline convent—the first religious house established in Scotland since the sixteenth century—which was opened in 1835. In July, 1838, he was consecrated at Edinburgh as Bishop of Limyra and Coadjutor of the Eastern District. A subsequent visit to Paris, where he was much esteemed, resulted in the acquisition of what remained of the library of the Scotch College, and in the promise of an annual grant to Scotland from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. In 1852 Bishop Gillis succeeded Bishop Carruthers as Vicar Apostolic of the Eastern District. During his twelve years’ tenure of this office he did much for the advancement of Catholicism, founding many new missions, introducing several religious orders (including Jesuits, Oblates of Mary, and Sisters of Mercy) into his district, and receiving into the Church many converts, among them Viscount and Viscountess Feilding, afterwards Earl and Countess of Denbigh. In 1857 he preached in Orleans cathedral an eloquent panegyric, in French, of Joan of Arc (published in London in the same year), receiving in return from the Mayor of Orleans the heart of King Henry II of England, who had died at Chinon, on the Loire, in 1189. Bishop Gillis was buried in St. Margaret’s convent, his own foundation, on February 26, 1864. The nuns of St. Margaret’s are in possession of his library.


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