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Mgr. Émile Legal, OMI, [1897-1920]. (OB3272 - Oblate Collection at the PAA)Legal, Émile (1897-1920)

LEGAL, Émile, was born on October 9th, 1849, at Saint-Jean-de-Boiseau (Loire-Atlantique), the son of Julien Legal, miller, and of Perrine David. He died in Edmonton, Alberta, March 10th, 1920.

Mgr Legal studied at the small and large seminaries at Nantes, at Machecoul College and he also studied at the University of France. He was ordained a priest at Nantes on June 29th, 1874 by Mgr Félix Fournier, Bishop of Nantes. The young priest was named supervisor at the small seminary at Nantes and a professor at the Saint-Stanislas College in the same city (1875-1878). Then, he did this at the seminary at Guérande (1878-1879), after which he entered the novitiate at Nancy on August 19th, 1879. He finished his probationary year at Lachine, where he made his perpetual vows on September 24th,  1880.

Waiting for his departure for the Canadian West, Fr Legal worked in the parish at Plattsburgh, New York, and at Saint-Pierre-Apôtre in Montréal. He then went to improve his English at the Parish of Holy Angels in Buffalo, New York.

He departed for the Diocese of Saint-Albert, Alberta (1881), and lived in Edmonton (1881);  Calgary [Bow River] (1881-1886), where he visited Fort MacLeod (1882-1884); then, founded a mission among the Peigan  [Brocket] (1883-1889) and visited Pincher Creek (1884-1889). He next served the Blood Peoples [Blood Reserve, Cardston, Stand Off] (1889-1897), where he established a school and hospital.

Named Bishop of Poglia and Coadjutor of  Saint-Albert, March 29th, 1897, he was consecrated in Saint-Albert June 17th, 1897 by Mgr Vital-Justin Grandin, o.m.i., Bishop of Saint-Albert. He became Vicar of the missions [provincial] (1897-1906) and Bishop of Saint-Albert, June 3rd, 1902, and Archbishop of Edmonton, November 30, 1912.

Mgr Legal received an honorary doctorate in law from the University of  Alberta in 1915. He worked on behalf of the Ruthenian Rite. He published a number of works, including the History of the Catholic Church in Alberta and Recueil de légendes Pieds-Noirs [A Gatherine of Blackfoot Legends]. His Episcopal motto was Pauperes evangelizantur. In verbo autem laxabo rete.

A town in Alberta bears his name. The Bishop was buried in the Oblate cemetery in Saint-Albert.1


1. Léonidas PRlMEAU, Mgr E. Legal, 1849-1920, dans Soldats conquérants du Christ, [Winnipeg, s:é., 1945], p 39-41; A la Mémoire de Mgr Emile Legal, O.M.I. Notes biographiques et funerailles, in Les Cloches de Saint-Boniface 19 (1920), p. 76-78; Les Canadiens Français, III (3) Edmonton mars 1920 8 p;  Archbishop Legal, in  Missionary Record... , 19  (1920), p. 171-174; Emile J. Legal, in John J. DELANEY-James Edward Tobin, Dictionary of Catholic Biography, p. 685; Valerio VETTI, Legal Emilio Giuseppe, dans Dizionario cattolico, vol. 2, p. 623-624; Legal, Emile, in Enciclopedia canadiana, vol. 6, p. 111-112, Legal, Emile, in LOUIS LE JEUNE, o.m.i., Dictionnaire général ... du Canada, vol. 2, p. 128-129; Legal, Emile, in Henry James MORGAN The Canadian Men and Women of the Time... , Toronto William Briggs, 1898 p 573

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