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Mary Ann Acosta

CHATAIGNON, MARIUS STEPHEN (1886–1957). Marius Stephen Chataignon, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Galveston and United States Army chaplain, was born on September 17, 1886, in Cellieu, Loire, France, the son of Étienne and Benoîte (Cancade) Chataignon. He served in the French army and had an outstanding military career. He traveled to America in 1906 and studied for the priesthood at St. Joseph Seminary in Baltimore and then St. Mary's Seminary in La Porte, Texas. He was ordained on December 24, 1911, at St. Mary's Cathedral, Galveston, and was assigned as an assistant there the next day. He left the cathedral in 1917 and entered the army as a chaplain, then returned 1919 and became rector in 1924.

He again served as chaplain overseas from 1930 until 1945 and emerged at the end of the conflict as a full colonel, a rank infrequently bestowed on chaplains. Francis Joseph Cardinal Spellman of New York wrote of him in 1945, "I regard him as perhaps the best Chaplain in the whole Army." Chataignon was awarded the Legion of Merit by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower for services as corps chaplain in North Africa and Sicily. He also held the Cross of Merit from the Italian government, the Distinguished Service cross, and the Bronze Star. He was affectionately called "Father Chat."

Father Chat was the first American to say Mass in St. Peter's Basilica after the occupation and led so many Americans to papal audiences that the pope began to recognize him and single him out in later visits. When the Bronze Star was awarded him in 1944, he was commended for performing "a highly important liaison mission with Vatican officials with a high degree of tact, integrity and wisdom." After the war Chataignon returned to Sacred Heart parish in Galveston, where he died on November 18, 1957. He is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Dickinson. He was survived by a sister, Mary Louise.


Catholic Archives of Texas, Files, Austin.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Mary Ann Acosta, "CHATAIGNON, MARIUS STEPHEN," accessed May 26, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fch47.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on April 13, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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