Father Anthony Ravall, S.J.
Father Antonio Ravalli, S.J. was recruited to serve at St. Mary's Mission by Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet, S.J. and sailed from Europe in 1843, never to return to his beloved homeland.  Born in the magnificent renaissance city of Ferrara, Italy in 1812, Antonio Ravalli grew up surrounded by beauty and culture.  Ferrara’s powerful Este family dynasty was as well known as the Medici family of Florence.  Complete with a castle, moat and a cathedral dating back to the 12th century, Ferrara, Italy stood as a staggering contrast to the rugged untamed wilds of Montana in the young priest's eyes.  A world away from his roots, Father Ravalli became the beloved priest, physician, pharmacist, sculptor, architect, machinist and friend to Native Americans of the Northwest from 1845 to 1884.  The memory of the magnificent interior of his Italian parish church, Santa Maria in Vado,   seems reflected in many of the details found in Historic St. Mary’s Chapel. Unlike the simple rustic log exterior, the church interior has elements of a miniature Italian Renaissance cathedral.
Longtime Stevensville resident, Lucylle Evans, traveled to Ferrara in the 1980s and became Father Ravalli’s biographer.  In her book, Good Samaritan of the Northwest, Evans says that Father Ravalli worked with Italian gusto and European tradition.  She comments that he always attempted to transform and “brighten” the world toward a cultured ideal.  Evans notes that Father Ravalli believed, ”Beauty is something we yearn for.” 

Today we witness the indelible mark this kind Jesuit priest left on the history of Montana and the Northwest. In September of  1943 the Liberty Ship S.S. Anthony Ravalli was launched and remained in service until 1961. Fr. Ravalli was inducted into the Gallery of Outstanding Montanan's in March of 2005.  This honor is bestowed upon those who made significant contributions either on a state or national level which represented the spirit or character which defines Montana.

August of 2005 saw the arrival of another Ravalli to Historic St. Mary's Mission. Carlo Ravalli ( a descendant of Fr. Anthony Ravalli) and his wife Cristina from Ferrara, Italy visited the area once traveled by Fr. Ravalli.

In beautiful Ravalli County named for the well-loved Italian priest, one senses the greatness of this man as his name is viewed on businesses throughout the valley.  His strong personal magnetism, the fruits of his many talents, and his undying faith live on at dear old St. Mary's Mission.
Liberty Ship S.S. Anthony Ravalli
Between September 27,1941 and September 2, 1945, 2710 Liberty ships were built. The Liberty was 441 feet long and 56 feet wide. Her three-cylinder, reciprocating steam engine, fed by two oil-burning boilers produced 2,500 hp and a speed of 11 knots. Her 5 holds could carry over 9,000 tons of cargo, plus airplanes, tanks, and locomotives lashed to its deck. A Liberty could carry 2,840 jeeps, 440 tanks, or 230 million rounds of rifle ammunition.
The United States Maritime Commission used broad guidelines in naming the Liberty ships built by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation in Portland, Oregon during World War II. The ships were generally named for eminent Americans from all walks of life who had made notable contributions to the history or to the culture of the United States of America - some famous, some forgotten, yet others heroic or even mythical.
The S.S. Anthony Ravalli was launched September 16, 1943 and scrapped in Philadelphia in 1961.
Many Liberty ships survived the war, and made up a large percentage of the postwar cargo fleet. The term "Liberty-size cargo" for 10,000 tons may still be heard in the shipping business. As of 2005, two Liberty ships survive: the SS John W. Brown and the Jeremiah O'Brien. Both museum ships, they still put out to sea regularly.
Fr. Anthony Ravalli, S.J. 1812-1884
The Book Shop
Visit The Book Shop for more history of Fr. Ravalli and his contributions to what was to become the State of Mont.ana
Fr. Ravalli's Cabin
Research library named for Fr. Anthony Ravalli - dedicated in 2007
Mission Complex, Cross on a Hill brand at St. Mary's Mission
Stevensville, Montana site of Historic St. Mary's Mission
Where Montana Began
Email: stmary@cybernet1.com
Fr. Ravalli's cabin in the 1960's
Painting by Fr. Ravalli
By Father Anthony Ravalli

The date is unknown of the painting by Fr. Ravalli depicting the Blessed Virgin’s apparition, on Christmas Eve 1841, to the Flathead Indian boy, Little Paul.

The painting was removed from St. Mary's Mission and taken to the St. Francis Xavier Church when the residence of St. Mary’s
was moved to Missoula in 1888.

We are indebted to Fr. Rich Perry of the St. Francis Xavier Parish for the loan of the oil painting.

Click picture for larger view
Last Update: 8/24/2016
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