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      Grand Rapids plans sculpture of Venerable Bishop Baraga

      A Grand Rapids sculpture is planned of a 19th century bishop known for his work in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

      The Grand Rapids Press reports the seven-foot sculpture of Frederic Baraga will be dedicated July 24 outside St. Andrew's Cathedral.

      The Peter F. Secchia Family Foundation commissioned it as part of a series honoring figures in area history. In 1833, Baraga established a mission in what's now Grand Rapids.

      In May, Roman Catholic leaders said the Vatican declared Baraga "venerable," meaning he's recognized for a life of heroic virtue. It's the first step in the process toward sainthood.

      Baraga is known as the "snowshoe priest." He spent 23 years among Indians and settlers and became the Marquette Diocese's first bishop in 1857. He died in 1868.