Jean Marie (John Mary) Odin, first Catholic bishop of Galveston and second archbishop of New Orleans, Louisiana, the seventh of ten children of Jean and Claudine Marie Odin, was born at Hauteville, dependency of the parish of Ambierle, department of Haute-Loire, France, on February 25, 1800. His parents were comfortable economically and were highly respected in the community. Jean Marie, baptized on the day of his birth, showed an early strong inclination toward religion. He was confirmed at age thirteen by the cardinal-archbishop of Lyon and soon thereafter began preparations for the priesthood. While a student at the famous Sulpician seminary of St. Irenaeus at Lyon in 1822, he responded to a plea from Father Angelo Inglesi, who represented Bishop Louis William DuBourg of the American Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas, for French missionaries to volunteer for his diocese. After arriving at New Orleans on July 11, 1822, Odin was sent on to continue his religious preparation and formation at the Vincentian St. Mary of the Barrens Seminary in Perryville, Missouri. Bishop DuBourg ordained him at the Barrens on May 4, 1823. Odin thrust himself into his ministerial duties with great enthusiasm. Then on January 12, 1825, he took vows as a priest of the Congregation of the Mission (see Vincentian Fathers). Between 1825 and 1840 he served the church in Missouri in several ways: as a pastor (briefly at the parish of St. Vincent De Paul at Cape Girardeau), as professor of theology at the seminary at Perryville, and as a missionary.
Odin's greatest contribution to the development of the church in the United States, however, was the effort that he made toward the revival of Catholicism in Texas during the period 1840–1861. In order to rebuild the church in Texas after its decline with the secularization of the missions (1794–1830) and the Texas Revolution, the Holy See, on October 24, 1839, established the Prefecture Apostolic of Texas and placed it under the care of the Vincentians. The newly named apostolic prefect, Father John Timon, appointed Odin as vice prefect apostolic and charged him with the church's future in Texas. After leaving St. Mary of the Barrens Seminary for Texas on May 2, 1840, Odin and three fellow Vincentians (Miguel Calvo, Eudald Estany, and Brother Raimondo Sala, all Spaniards) arrived at the Texas port of Linnville on July 12. For the next two decades the French churchman worked tirelessly; his efforts produced such outstanding results that he has been acclaimed the founder of the modern Catholic Church in Texas.
In December 1840 Pope Gregory XVI named Odin coadjutor bishop of Detroit. Odin, however, refused that honor, with the ultimate result that on July 16, 1841, the pope raised Texas to the status of a vicariate apostolic and made Odin the Lone Star republic's new vicar apostolic and titular bishop of Claudiopolis. Almost six years later, on May 4, 1847, Pope Pius IX established the Diocese of Galveston, which encompassed all of Texas, and named Odin the new diocese's first ordinary. Odin's notable career in Texas came to an end in 1861, when the Vatican nominated him to succeed Archbishop Anthony Blanc as the ordinary of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Odin died in the French parish of his birth, Ambierle, on May 25, 1870, after becoming ill at the First Vatican Council.
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Archives of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Archives of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Southern United States Province, San Antonio. Archives of the University of Notre Dame. Ralph Francis Bayard, Lone-Star Vanguard: The Catholic Re-Occupation of Texas, 1838–1848 (St. Louis: Vincentian Press, 1945). Catholic Archives of Texas, Files, Austin. Bernard Doyon, The Cavalry of Christ on the Rio Grande, 1849–1883 (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1956). John J. Linn, Reminiscences of Fifty Years in Texas (New York: Sadlier, 1883; 2d ed., Austin: Steck, 1935; rpt., Austin: State House, 1986). Andrew Forest Muir, Texas in 1837 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958). Pierre F. Parisot, The Reminiscences of a Texas Missionary (San Antonio, 1899).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Odin, Jean Marie,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 11, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
February 7, 2020