John Baptist Purcell, an American archbishop, born in Mallow, Ireland, Feb. 26, 1800. He came to the United States at an early age, began his theological studies in Mount St. Mary's college, Emmettsburg, Md., completed them in St. Sulpice, Paris, and was ordained priest in that city in 1826. After his return to the United States he taught theology at Mount St. Mary's, and became president of the college in 1829. He was appointed bishop of Cincinnati in 1833, when there was but one Roman Catholic church there, while the dio-cese comprised the entire state of Ohio; but the numbers of his flock rapidly increased, and he founded many important institutions. The diocese was divided in 1847 by the erection of Cleveland into an independent see, and the diocese of Columbus was separated in 1868. In 1860 he was made an archbishop. In 1869 he attended the council of the Vatican, and voted against the opportuneness of defining the doctrine of pontifical infallibility. After his return to Cincinnati in 1870, he was involved in a public discussion with the freethinker Vickers. Previously, in 1837, he had a seven days' discussion with the Rev. Alexander Campbell, which excited great interest, and an account of which was afterward printed in a volume.
Archbishop Purcell has published a volume of "Lectures and Pastoral Letters," and edited Kenelm Digby's "Ages of Faith" and Donald Macleod's "History of the Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in North America" (New York, 1866).