Today we remember a sensitive, dedicated man who struggled, suffered and ultimately gave himself completely in his ministry to the people whom he loved and served. Father Anthony Ravalli was a Jesuit Missionary with exceptional talents and accomplishments as he served as a physician, pharmacist, architect, builder, farmer, artist, sculptor, and missionary priest in the wilderness.
Fr. Ravalli truly deserves this honor. He has been memorialized several times since his death in 1884. In 1893, Ravalli County was given his name, then in 1943 the World War II Liberty Ship, Anthony Ravalli was launched out of Portland, Oregon.
Today, standing at his gravesite at St. Mary’s, it is difficult to get a sense of what the Bitter Root Valley was like when Fr. Ravalli was alive. Much of the dangers and hardships he endured and helped others live through have passed.
In 1926, 42 years after his death, a bronze plaque was dedicated to Fr. Ravalli and Fr. DeSmet at the Mission. These Jesuit Missionaries are known as “the Pioneers of Montana Pioneers.” Please allow me to quote Arthur Stone, former Dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Montana, “The finest memorial to the services of Fr. Ravalli and his associates is found in the commonwealth which has grown out of the wilderness which they penetrated. Their armor was the cassock, their lance was the cross, but no crusader ever rode forth to more splendid conquest than that which they won.”
Fr. Ravalli was revered and loved by the Salish Indians and the white settlers alike, whom he faithfully served. This honor is befitting a man who has had such a profound influence on what was to become Montana.
Now it is with great pleasure that I bring sincere greetings from Carlo Ravalli in Ferrara, Italy, a third cousin of Father Anthony Ravalli."
Esteemed Members of the Montana Historical Society,
Dear Delegates from Ravalli County,
Dignitaries, Ladies and Gentlemen:
On behalf of my family, I am glad to extend to you warm and affectionate greetings from Ferrara, the city of origin of Padre Antonio Ravalli, who left here many years ago, never to return. His free choice to journey forth appears so difficult and heroic to us today, who do not have his extraordinary intellectual and moral talents, a choice that leaves us amazed. We, the latest links in a long family chain that has grown for centuries in Ferrara, as is verified in the book “Good Samaritan of the Northwest” by Lucylle Evans, look with admiration and fascination at the detour Fr. Ravalli wanted and was able to achieve. He joined himself to the inhabitants of the North West of the United States of America and in particular to those in present-day Montana, with Native American Indians and with white settlers, with his contemporaries and their descendents, to the extent that I am sure he is present to your attending this ceremony today. Unfortunately, many links in the chain of the Ravalli Family as well as the branches connected with Fr. Antonio’s American life are not with us today; my uncle whose name I share, and who met with Mrs. Lucylle Evans and allowed her to complete the wonderful saga entitled, “Good Samaritan of the Northwest”, the same author of the book, my father, recently deceased, and many others. But our memory and meetings like this keep the bonds strong and durable, protecting them into the future. And so, I, one small leaf of our Ravalli Family tree, with the good fortune of having interpreted conversations between my Uncle Carlo and Mrs. Evans, together with my relatives wish to thank first of all the Montana Historical Society for the honor conferred upon the memory of our ancestor, then to thank Mrs. Colleen Meyer, who has graciously involved me in this event, and finally my friends James and Sondra Sieg, for their continued contact with me, and their work in helping with the restoration of St. Mary’s Mission. Last of all, I send my best wishes to your communities, hoping in the near future to have the longed-for chance to meet you personally.
Director of Historic St. Mary's Mission
Father Ravalli Induction Ceremony into the
“Gallery of Outstanding Montanans”
March 16, 2005
Speech given by
Colleen Meyer, Director
Historic St. Mary’s Mission
"What an honor it is to be here today accepting this most appropriate recognition of Fr. Ravalli. On behalf of Historic St. Mary’s Mission and the Ravalli Family, we thank you for selecting Fr. Anthony Ravalli as an inductee into the Gallery of Outstanding Montanans, and truly what an outstanding Montanan he was. St. Mary’s Mission feels his presence and we are reminded daily of the incredible talents of this gifted man.
** In August of 2005 Carlo Ravalli and his wife Cristina visited Historic St. Mary's Mission.**
Click HERE for more on their historic visit.
Last Update: 8/24/2016
Historic St. Mary's Mission, Inc. * All Rights Reserved
P.O. Box 211
315 Charlo Street
Stevensville, MT 59870