Ledvina, Emmanuel Boleslaus (1868–1952)

By: Sister M. Claude Lane, O.P.

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: March 1, 1995

Emmanuel Boleslaus Ledvina, second bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi, son of George Emmanuel and Mary (Kiefer) Ledvina, was born on October 28, 1868, in Evansville, Indiana, and attended parochial schools in Evansville and St. Louis. In 1883 he enrolled in St. Meinrad College, Indiana, and in 1888 entered St. Meinrad Seminary to complete his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by the bishop of Indianapolis on March 18, 1893. After assignments in Evansville, Indianapolis, and Princeton, he became secretary in 1907 of the Catholic Church Extension Society, an organization devoted to financing churches and missions in the United States. In 1908 he was named first vice president as well as general secretary of the society, a post he held until his appointment as bishop of Corpus Christi in 1921. Through his work with the society, he gained a basic background on the condition of the Catholic Church in Texas, and especially in the lower Rio Grande valley area, where missionary work was concentrated.

In 1918 Ledvina was raised to monsignor; in 1919 he was made an honorary canon of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, near Mexico City. Upon the resignation of Paul Joseph Nussbaum, first bishop of Corpus Christi, Ledvina was appointed to the see. He was consecrated in Indianapolis on June 14, 1921, and installed as bishop on July 12. During the twenty-eight years of his administration, the number of priests increased from thirty-two to 160; more than fifty new churches, fifty-three mission chapels, and forty-seven rectories were built. With aid obtained by his own personal appeals to New Subiaco Abbey, Arkansas, he founded the Benedictine-run Corpus Christi College-Academy. Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi and St. Joseph Home and St. Joseph's Academy, Laredo, were also constructed. Under his direction Corpus Christi Cathedral was built in 1940, and in 1947–48 a combined rectory and chancery office was added. Ledvina was particularly noted for his apostolate among Mexican-American Catholics in South Texas, and for his efforts to counteract the influence of the Ku Klux Klan in Corpus Christi. He resigned in 1949 because of failing health and was succeeded by his coadjutor bishop, Mariano Simon Garriga. Ledvina died on December 15, 1952, and was buried in a crypt under the main altar of Corpus Christi Cathedral.

Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Gilberto Rafael and Martha Oppert Cruz, A Century of Service: The History of the Catholic Church in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (Harlingen, Texas: United, 1979). Albert M. Schreiber, When the Bishop Blesses (San Antonio: Standard, 1943).
  • Religion
  • Catholic

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

Sister M. Claude Lane, O.P., “Ledvina, Emmanuel Boleslaus,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/ledvina-emmanuel-boleslaus.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995