“Happy would I be if I could sacrifice for God what Custer threw away to the world.”
Bishop Martin Marty
During his approximately 59 years on this Earth it is probable that the Sioux chieftan Sitting Bull met only one white man he trusted implicitly: Martin Marty.
Marty was born on January 12, 1834 in Schwyz, Switzerland to a shoemaker and his wife. Gifted scholastically, he attended the Benedictine school attached to Einseideln Abbey. Upon graduation he entered the novitiate, taking his final vows in 1855 and being ordained a priest a year later. It is quite likely he would have remained at the abbey for the remainder of his life, “of the world forgetting, and by the world forgot”, except that in 1860 his abbot ordered him to take over a disobedient and debt-ridden daughter house of the abbey in Saint Meinrad, Indiana. He performed a minor miracle in restoring the morale and faith of the monks at the abbey at Saint Meinrad and brought it back to fiscal solvency. The abbot decided that he was doing such a good job that he should stay where he was in America. In 1870, the Saint Meinrad Abbey achieved independent status by a Papal decree of Pius IX with Father Marty as the first abbot. It continues in existence to this day as an abbey and a seminary.
In 1875 Abbot Marty got into hot water by attempting to substitute the Roman breviary for the Benedictine breviary. This caused an uproar throughout the Benedictine Order and in 1876 the Sacred Congregation of Rites ruled against Marty and ordered him to restore the traditional Benedictine breviary. After this incident Father Marty relinquished his abbotship, after receiving a request from the Bureau for Catholic Indian Missions for two priests to serve as missionaries in the Dakota territory, and set out for the Dakota territory in 1876 with a dream of building a Benedictine abbey there. Father Marty had read about the deeds of the famous mission priest Father DeSmet and had wished to become a mission priest for years. (more…)