Historic St. Mary's
Mission & Museum
est. 1841

Historic Brand of St. Mary's Mission - Cross on a Hill

406-777-5734
Email: stmary@cybernet1.com
P.O. Box 211
315 Charlo Street
Stevensville, MT 59870

 Ravallis at St. Mary' s
Carlo, Fr. Anthony and Guglielmo Ravalli
Carlo                 Fr. Anthony               Guglielmo
Father Anthony Ravalli, S.J.

Fr. Anthony Ravalli, S.J.

Arrived in 1845

Fr. Anthony Ravalli S.J., of Ferrara Italy, arrived at St. Mary's Mission in 1845.   He was never to return to his homeland.  During his 39 year tenure he left an indelible mark on  the history of the Bitterroot Valley,  territories of the northwest and what was to become the State of Montana.  His remarkable skills as an artist, carpenter and sculptor are still visible  today as one visits the buildings at St. Mary's Mission.  His  soft-spoken manner and  loving heart endeared him to  whites and  Indians alike.  As physician he treated the ills of those for miles around and dispensed medicine from the "ride up window" in his pharmacy/cabin. More about Fr. Ravalli
Cabin-Pharmacy of Fr. Ravalli
Father Anthony Ravalli, S.J.

Carlo & Cristina Ravalli

Arrived in 2005


August 20, 2005 witnessed the arrival of yet another Ravalli to Montana. Carlo  Ravalli and his wife Cristina traveled from Ferrara, Italy to visit the place where  Fr. Anthony Ravalli had traveled 160 years before. Five generations down the  genealogical chart, Carlo, whose family has roots back to the 15th century feels  lineage is important and he says, "Fr. Antonio Ravalli was an important branch,"  in the Ravalli family tree, "and I am one of the smallest leaves."

The journey for Carlo and Cristina was enlightening as well as emotional. Seeing the  Ravalli name emblazoned on businesses and the  "Entering Ravalli County" sign gave them insight into the important role  their ancestor had played in the history of the area. They were deeply touched to stand in the  cabin where Fr. Ravalli treated the ill, studied, prayed and died.  The couple were in awe at the magnificent 8-foot cross handmade by Father Ravalli, the furniture, shaped by simple hand tools and the incredible statues carved and painted by their ancestor.  Strolling the lush green Mission grounds Carlo said, "There is a spirit present at St. Mary's, like none I have felt before." 

On Sunday, August 21, 2005 Historic St. Mary's Mission held a dinner to welcome the Ravalli's.  Presentations, speeches, laughter and good food were shared by the many who attended the dinner.  Having a Ravalli once again on the grounds of "dear Old St. Mary's" was truly a memorable and historic moment.  None who were fortunate enough to meet Carlo and Cristina were left untouched by their warm and genuine spirits. Colleen Meyer, Executive Director of Historic St. Mary's Mission said of their visit, "It is a highlight of my career to have met and shared incredible moments with family members of the beloved Fr. Anthony Ravalli."

Mass was celebrated in the Old Mission Chapel in honor of Carlo and Cristina's visit.  It was an emotional moment as Carlo rang the 1879 bell in the bell tower that was designed and built by his ancestor. The historic pump organ in the choir loft softly played "Amazing Grace" for a standing room only group who were deeply moved as another man named Ravalli approached the elegantly hand carved Altar, lovingly crafted by Fr. Anthony Ravalli.

It is with heartfelt gratitude that we say "Thank You", to Carlo and Cristina, for having made this journey and shared of themselves with our Community whose history is so deeply tied to their ancestor, Fr. Anthony Ravalli.

Cabin-Pharmacy of Fr. Ravalli

Guglielmo Ravalli

Arrived in 2016

On September 23, 2016 yet another Ravalli family member stepped foot on the grounds at Historic St. Mary's Mission. Guglielmo Ravalli, Carlo's son and also originally from Ferrara, Italy, traveled from New York City where he currently lives with his wife and children. He was the featured guest and speaker at the 175th Anniversary Commemoration of the founding of what was to become  Stevensville in the future state of Montana and was also a special guest at the Montana Historical Society Conference.

Following is an excerpt of the speech he gave at the Commemoration in honor of his relative, Fr. Ravalli:

"Visiting St. Mary's mission yesterday was for me a very special and touching experience. I immediately felt the hardship and the challenges of those early days, but I also felt how significant was the contribution of those extraordinary individuals who dedicated their lives to the people living in this region.

"I wish I could have come here telling you that in the Ravalli family we are all like Father Anthony. That it is all in the genes... "Don't get me wrong, we are good people, some intelligent, many highly educated; engineers, doctors, architects, artists. The difference is that Antonio Ravalli combined all those skill and competences in only one man.

"He arrived in this place when he was more or less my age. He came from Italy, from Ferrara, my hometown, with only a trunk, his brains and an enormous heart.

"He built his own tools, he designed and erected this church, he healed suffering people, he contributed to deploy agriculture in the region. And am I forgetting many more of his achievements. What else can one accomplish in a lifetime?

"Even more remarkably, Father Anthony dedicated himself, he gave himself, to the physical and mental well-being of complete strangers.

"This was his choice, his real purpose in life. And I am delighted to be here today to honor his memory as one of the founding fathers.

"Tomorrow morning I will travel back to my wife and my children and besides showing them pictures of the tepee tents (for which they will get extremely excited), I will tell them what a great man Antonio Ravalli was and what fantastic friends he managed to connect us with here in Montana, almost two centuries later."

Our sincere thanks go out to Guglielmo for having taken the time to join in the Founder's Day festivities. His visit, though brief, was the highlight of the Celebration of the Founding of Stevensville 175 years ago.