Fr. Anthony Ravalli, S. J. 1812-1884
A True Renaissance Man
Father Antonio Ravalli, S.J. was recruited to serve at St. Mary's Mission by
Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet, S.J.
and sailed from Europe in 1843, never to return to his beloved homeland. Born in the magnificent renaissance city of Ferrara, Italy in 1812, Antonio Ravalli grew up surrounded by beauty and culture. Ferrara’s powerful Este family dynasty was as well known as the Medici family of Florence. Complete with a castle, moat and a cathedral dating back to the 12th century, Ferrara, Italy stood as a staggering contrast to the rugged untamed wilds of Montana in the young priest's eyes.
A world away from his roots, Father Ravalli became the beloved priest, physician, pharmacist, sculptor, architect, machinist and friend to Native Americans of the Northwest from 1845 to 1884.
Longtime Stevensville resident, Lucylle Evans, traveled to Ferrara in the 1980s and became Father Ravalli’s biographer. In her book, Good Samaritan of the Northwest, Evans says that Father Ravalli worked with Italian gusto and European tradition. She comments that he always attempted to transform and “brighten” the world toward a cultured ideal. Evans notes that Father Ravalli believed, ”Beauty is something we yearn for.” The memory of the magnificent interior of his Italian parish church, Santa Maria in Vado, seems reflected in many of the details found in Historic St. Mary’s Chapel. The simple log exterior belies the beauty of the interior that reflects elements of a miniature Italian Renaissance cathedral.
Today we witness the indelible mark this kind Jesuit priest left on the history of Montana and the Northwest. In September of 1943 the Liberty Ship S.S. Anthony Ravalli was launched and remained in service until 1961. Fr. Ravalli was inducted into the Gallery of Outstanding Montanan's in March of 2005. This honor is bestowed upon those who made significant contributions either on a state or national level which represented the spirit or character which defines Montana. The dedication ceremony for the Father Anthony Ravalli Research Library, held April 20, 2007, is in honor of the memory of Lucylle H. Evans. Many of the books in the library are from the private collection of Mrs. Evans.
Historic St. Mary's has been honored by
visits from Ravalli family members
. In 2005 Carlo Ravalli ( a descendant of Fr. Anthony Ravalli) and his wife Cristina from Ferrara, Italy visited the area once traveled by Fr. Ravalli. In 2016 Carlo's son, Guglielmo Ravalli visited from New York to join in the
of the founding of St. Mary's.
In beautiful Ravalli County named for the well-loved Italian priest, one senses the greatness of this man as his name is viewed on businesses throughout the valley. His strong personal magnetism, the fruits of his many talents, and his undying faith live on at dear old St. Mary's Mission.
A fascinating biography of Fr. Anthony Ravalli, S.J. and his many contributions to what was to become Montana.
by: Lucylle H. Evans
S.S. ANTHONY RAVALLI
The United States Maritime Commission used broad guidelines in naming the Liberty ships built by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation in Portland, Oregon during World War II. The ships were generally named for eminent Americans from all walks of life who had made notable contributions to the history or to the culture of the United States of America - some famous, some forgotten, yet others heroic or even mythical.
The S.S. Anthony Ravalli was launched September 16, 1943 and scrapped in Philadelphia in 1961.
FR. ANTHONY RAVALLI RESEARCH LIBRARY
The library houses an extensive collection of historical reference material that contain interesting and valuable information about the late 1700’s through the 1900’s in the Rocky Mountains, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. There is also a large collection of books about the Indians of the Rocky Mountain region, the Pacific Northwest, and the Plains, many of which focus in particular on the Flathead, Salish, Nez Perce, and Blackfoot tribes in Montana and Idaho. These range from novels, edited oral transcriptions, historical texts, and pictorial depictions of cultures, legends, reports, and important events.
GALLERY OF OUTSTANDING MONTANANS
In 1979 the State Legislature established the Gallery of Outstanding Montanans to pay homage to citizens of the Treasure State who made contributions of state or national significance in their fields of endeavor while epitomizing the unique spirit and character that defines Montana. Fr. Anthony Ravalli was inducted into the Gallery March 16, 2005.