F-----, BISHOP. The unnamed priest who promised to absolve young Joseph Vaillant if the young priest's father objected to his going to America ( Death Comes for the Archbishop) was probably Benedict Joseph Flaget, the first Catholic bishop of Bardstown, Kentucky, born at Contournat, France, November 7, 1763, and died at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1850. On the recommendation of Archbishop John Carroll, he was named bishop of Bardstown in 1808 and did missionary work throughout a large see. In 1835 he went to Europe and spent two years on a papal commission for the Propagation of the Faith. While in Europe he lived at Clermont and there told Father Joseph Machebeuf (q.v.) and Father Jean Baptiste Lamy (q.v.), the prototypes of Vaillant and Latour, of his work in America. Flaget reawakened and stimulated their desire to go to America and he accompanied them when they first came in 1839. In Life of the Right Reverend Joseph Machebeuf ( Pueblo, CO: Franklin Press, 1908), by W. J. Howlett, there is no mention that Father Machebeuf contemplated remaining in Europe if his father refused to give him permission to come to America, so it is likely that Willa Cather invented this detail. N:DC IX, 5
FAGON. Gui Crescent Fagon, the French physician and botanist, born in Paris May 11, 1638, and died there March 11, 1718. In Shadows on the Rock, Euclide Auclair pronounces him a "bigoted and heartless quack." Reared by a great-uncle, Guy de La Brosse, who was founder and director of the Jardin du roi, Fagon learned botany very early from his great-uncle and then went to the Collège Ste.-Barbe where he proved an outstanding student. He became a doctor in 1664; his thesis was on the circulation of the blood, a daring subject for that time. Fagon traveled over France collecting plants for the Jardin, and in recognition for this service, he was made professor of botany at the Jardin.
His career as a court doctor began in 1680 when he was chosen physician to the Grand Dauphin and his wife, Marie-Christine de Bavière, and a few months later he became physician to Queen Marie-Thérèse. Eventually, Louis XIV appointed him to care for his children and, in 1693, for himself. Fagon never let anything draw his attention from his profession although there were many opportunities for distraction at court. Any time not actually spent with the king was given to attending the sick.