Bard, John Peter (1846–1920)

By: Agnes G. Grimm

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 1, 1994

John Peter (Pierre, Padre Pedro) Bard, a priest of the San Diego parish and mission churches in the Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi, was born on the island of Martinique in 1846. He was educated in France and became the head of a private school for French boys. He had been seriously ill as a baby, and his mother had promised to offer him to the church if God spared his life. In 1866 he and four parents chaperoned a group of his students on a tour of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. The natural beauty of the port of Corpus Christi so entranced Pierre that he determined to return as a priest, though he had had no desire to become a priest until that time. Upon his return to France, he began study for the priesthood.

Bard returned to Texas in 1876 and remained in Galveston for several months studying English, German, and Spanish, since he spoke only French. He was ordained at the age of thirty by Bishop Dominic Manucy of Brownsville, then returned to Corpus Christi and was sent to assist Father Claude C. Jaillet with his visitation. Bard arrived in San Diego, Texas, on April 14, 1877.

The San Diego parish and mission area consisted of 200 ranches and missions spread from the Nueces River southward 100 miles, and from Banquete westward sixty miles. The area included a Spanish-speaking population of 5,000 to 6,000, about a dozen English-speaking families, and several immigrant German families. Bard's English, French, German, and Spanish library books were frequently used. On his visitations he usually rode in a buggy pulled by two horses. Comanche Indians and American and Mexican outlaws were a danger, and parishioners insisted that Father Bard carry a gun in his buggy with his polyglot Bibles. Though he knew how to use a gun, he accidently killed one of his horses in 1883 and thereafter rode unarmed.

Bard built chapels at ConcepciĆ³n in 1879 and at Collins in 1885; he helped build the chapel at Falfurrias in 1903. The chapel at Collins was moved to Alice in 1889. In 1884 Father Jaillet was sent to Corpus Christi, and Bard was the only priest in San Diego until 1911. He served as the master of ceremonies at the dedication of St. Francis de Paula Church in San Diego on April 18, 1909. Soon after the church was dedicated, he built an underground adobe vault for the safekeeping of church papers, Communion wine, books, and other valuables. Bard died of influenza on March 4, 1920, and was buried in his vault in the churchyard. When St. Francis de Paula Church was enlarged in 1933, his remains were buried under the floor of the vestibule, and an inscription in Spanish was placed over his grave.

Sister Mary Xavier Holworthy Papers, Chancery, Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi.
  • Peoples
  • French
  • Religion
  • Catholic

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Agnes G. Grimm, “Bard, John Peter,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 21, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994