Our Lady of Victory Church
San Francisco, CA Biographies





OUR LADY OF VICTORY CHURCH
It is an historical fact that the first Catholic Church in what was then San Francisco was French. Father Langlois, who administered to the spiritual needs of the hunters and trappers of Oregon and Canada, came to San Francisco in 1849, and in this small community a room in which to say mass was offered to him by Lieutenant Hardy of the United States Army. Later, a small church building was constructed, and named St. Francis. It was opened July 19, 1849, and the register of the first year indicates that the communicants were nearly all of French blood. The names of the priests, and of the persons baptized and married, are of French character. Later, when the priests acquired sufficient knowledge of the English language, they went into the outlying districts on missionary work. In 1852, Father Langlois became the first regular parish priest in San Francisco, having been in charge of St. Francis Church, of which he was the founder. Later he became vicar general, and died in May, 1892, after a life of magnificent achievement in his holy work.

In April, 1856, a Baptist Church building was purchased by Gustav Touchard. This structure stood on the site of the present Our Lady of Victory Church at 566 Bush street. A few necessary changes were made in the interior, and it was then ready for the Catholic services. Father Blaive was the first pastor of the new church, and was succeeded by Father John Molinier, who came here from Mariposa county, California. Father Blaive died in the year 1861, and Father Molinier passed away in 1863. Then came Father H. J. de Clerg, a native of Belgium, while his successor, Father Robert, served in the pastorate from 1875 until 1885. The Marist fathers, who now conduct the affairs of Our Lady of Victory parish, came to California, and to San Francisco, in 1882. Archbishop Riordan of San Francisco, desiring to retain the Marist fathers in the diocese, conveyed to their charge the French Church. Father Renaudier was the first Marist pastor of Notre Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victory) Church, and assumed his position in November, 1885. He was followed in 1892 by Father Audiffred, and then came Fathers Gente; Loude; Hamet; Guibert; Joseph F. Solier; H. M. Thiery, who built the present church building in 1915, the old one having been destroyed in the great fire of 1906; and Father H. L. Gerard, who founded the French school on Pine street. This school, where the French language is spoken and is taught as a specialty, is in charge of the Sisters of St. Joseph, coming from Orange, California. Finally, in 1927, Rev. Louis Le Bihan became pastor of the church. A biography of Father Le Bihan is presented elsewhere in this history.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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