Happy Summer! (Well, the date says that it is almost summer; here by the lake, the weather and temperature are saying something different) However, plans are made on the basis of what the temperature should be, and that is how I was on the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota at the end of May. Absolutely beautiful, even with the torrential rain on several days and chunks of ice still floating in the lake.

Something we saw driving back on the last day, has me starting my blog off with a summer vacation story. My wife and I were just starting our drive home when I saw a sign for Fr. Baraga’s Cross Road. A rather peculiar name for a road, and so at the last moment we turned down it.

There were several houses and such as we drove toward the lake, but at the bottom of the drive, right at the lake, was a small parking spot and a cross with a plaque. It was a beautiful setting on this sunny morning, but as you can read, the cross was placed there as a sign of thanks by Fr. Baraga for helping him and his guide shelter from a storm on Lake Superior. The cross you see is not the original cross, which was wooden, but is placed on the same site of that cross.

For those who do not recognize the name, the Venerable Frederic Irenaeus Baraga was a Slovenian Roman Catholic missionary who later in his life became the first bishop of the Diocese of Marquette. Through his missionary work, Fr. Baraga came into contact with many different Native American tribes that lived throughout the Lake Superior region, especially the Ottawa tribes. He mastered their language, and published what is believed to be the first book in the Ottawa language in 1837. 

Among his many other literary works were both transliterating the bible into Ottawa, one of the Algonquin family of languages, as well as publishing dictionaries and grammars of the language. He died Jan. 19, 1868. He was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI on May 10, 2012, and is in the middle of a formal canonization process.

We have several books about Fr. Baraga, including “Shepherd of the Wilderness: a biography of Bishop Frederic Baraga,” and “The Diary of Bishop Frederic Baraga.” One of the great values to our collection, however, is that we have many of his published works, including his Bible and grammar books, many signed by Bishop Baraga himself. For much of the time of his missionary work he would have been in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which for a time stretched upwards around Duluth and Superior. These historical works are being kept for us at Marquette University, along with many of our other rare books.

It is amazing what one discovers when driving, paying attention to the journey itself rather than just the destination.

As always, if you have any ideas and comments for things I could change, please let me know. If you have any books that you have read or have read the books I mention, please leave a comment. We here at Salzmann also want to know what people are reading. Comments are always appreciated – anything I can do to make this better I will strive my best to accomplish.

Here is some basic information about the library:
• Our standard hours are Tuesdays, Thursdays, 12 to 8 p.m.; Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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