Jaillet, Claude (1843–1929)

By: Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S.

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: February 1, 1995

Claude Jaillet, priest, the son of Claude François and Marguerite (Dubois) Jaillet of Lyons, France, was born on September 8, 1843. In 1862 he entered the Séminaire d'Alix, where he studied philosophy. He later studied theology at the Grand Séminaire de St. Irenée in Lyons. In 1886 he was ordained a priest by Claude Marie Dubuis, the second bishop of Galveston, who had traveled to France to recruit priests for Texas. After his ordination Jaillet left France for the United States on September 25, 1866. Several other priests sailed with him, as well as twelve nuns going to New Orleans or Galveston.

Jaillet landed in New York and proceeded to Galveston, then to Indianola, and at last to Corpus Christi. From there he left for San Diego, Texas, where he built a chapel and his own residence. He served as the first priest in San Diego before he was assigned to the Fort Stockton-Fort Davis area in West Texas in 1871. He was subsequently assigned to the San Antonio River missions between Medina and Panna Maria, then sent to Laredo for eight months. Afterward, he moved to Corpus Christi, where he served the outlying ranches from 1873 to 1875. The people of San Diego petitioned Bishop Dominic Manucy to get him back, so in 1875 he returned and rebuilt the church. He remained in San Diego until 1884, having served there for a total of fourteen years. He returned to Corpus Christi, where he was assigned to St. Patrick Church (later St. Patrick Cathedral) as pastor and vicar general of the diocese. In addition, Father Jaillet acted as chaplain for the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament from 1884 to 1913. In 1914 Bishop Paul J. Nussbaum gave him the title pastor emeritus of the cathedral. Father Jaillet chose Spohn Hospital for his retirement residence and served as its chaplain. He offered Mass for the sisters until two years before his death.

Jaillet twice refused the office of bishop and would have refused the titles of monsignor and prothonotary apostolic, but he was too busy at the time to decline. He spent so much time on horseback that he became known as the "saddlebag priest of the Nueces." He died at Spohn Hospital on November 30, 1929.

Archives of the Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi. Sister Mary Xavier Holworthy, I.W.B.S., Father Jaillet: Saddlebag Priest of the Nueces (Corpus Christi: Incarnate Word Academy, 1948).
  • Peoples
  • French
  • Religion
  • Catholic

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

Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S., “Jaillet, Claude,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 17, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/jaillet-claude.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995