“The Great Hunger”: The Irish Famine (1845-1849)

The potato blight that struck Ireland in 1845 was a fungus known as Phytophthera infestans. It may have been introduced from North America. It’s still the largest destroyer of potatoes today, but it’s kept under control by chemicals. Potatoes putrified and decayed almost immediately upon contact. About 30-40% of the crop was destroyed in 1845, [Read More...]

“A Cross between a businessman and a nightclub entertainer”

Today marks the death of Robert I. Gannon (1892-1978), Jesuit educator and university president. From 1936 to 1949, he presided over what some consider the golden age of Fordham University. During this perios many considered Fordham to be America’s premier Jesuit university in America. Certainly it had the most colorful president. The son of a [Read More...]

General William S. Rosecrans (1819-1898)

Today marks the death of General William Starke Rosecrans (1819-1898), Civil War general and Catholic convert. An 1842 graduate of West Point, the Ohio-born Rosecrans converted to Catholicism while teaching at his alma mater. Rosecrans became an extremely devout Catholic who, in the years before the Civil War, even considered editing a Catholic newspaper. As [Read More...]

Pius Parsch and the Liturgical Movement

Today in 1954 marks the death of Pius Parsch, Czech priest and liturgist. Born in 1884 in northern Moravia, he joined the Augustinian Canons in 1904. He became a leading figure in the Liturgical Movement, the purpose of which was to make the treasures of Scriture and the Liturgy more accessible to the laity. His [Read More...]

Catholic Near East Welfare Association Founded Today

Today in 1926 marks the founding of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), a pontifical agency designed to aid the Church’s pastoral mission in the Middle East and to provide material assistance to the needy in that region. Its jurisdiction also covers Northeast Africa, India, Eastern Europe, and Eastern Rite Catholics everywhere. Prior to [Read More...]

J.V. Huntington (1815-1862), Pioneer Catholic Novelist

This day in 1862 marks the death of Jedediah V. Huntington: medical doctor, teacher, Episcopal priest, Catholic convert, novelist, and newspaper editor. Born to a blue-blood family whose ancestors included a Revolutionary War general, he studied at Yale and earned a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1843, he was ordained an Epsicopal [Read More...]

St. Marie-Eugénie de Jésus (1817-1898)

Today marks the Feast of St. Marie-Eugénie de Jésus (1817-1898), foundress of the Sisters of the Assumption. Growing up in a French family with no religious observance, she had a conversion exerience as a young girl. Later, after hearing the great Dominican preacher Lacordaire, she acted on the call to religious life. After joining the [Read More...]

Triple Consecration at Old St. Pat’s

On this day in 1844, in Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manahattan, three priests working in the New York area were ordained Bishops for three different dioceses. Father John McCloskey (1810-1885) had been named Coadjutor Bishop of New York with the right of succession. Thirty-one years later he would become the first American cardinal. Father [Read More...]

Leo XIII First Pope Filmed

Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) was a pontiff of many accomplishments, not the least of which was being the first pope captured on film, during the 1890′s. For a look at the first papal blessing captured on screen click here. It’s said that when this short film clip was shown in the largely Protestant sections of [Read More...]

Mary Julia Workman (1871-1964)

Women’s History Month makes this a good time to mention the life and work of social reformer Mary Julia Workman (1871-1964). The daughter of Los Angeles Mayor Henry Workman, she attended Catholic schools and became a public school teacher. In 1901 she founded the Brownson House Settlement Association to meet the needs of L.A.’s urban [Read More...]