“La Signora”: Ella B. Edes, Roman Agent (1832-1916)

Today marks the death of Ella B. Edes (1832-1916), convert, journalist and Vatican lobbyist. Born in Massachusetts, she inherited a considerable estate from her merchant father. In 1852, she converted to Catholicism. After her mother died, she moved permanently to Rome, where she got a job as secretary to Cardinal Alessandro Barnabo, Prefect of the [Read More...]

Looking Across the Mountains

Since the time of Constantine, state control of the Church has always been an issue. In France this problem was known as Gallicanism, the term being derived from the Latin for “French Church” (ecclesia gallicana). Basically, it meant that the King was the unofficial head of the Church in France, controlling all appointments and overseeing [Read More...]

Cardinal Rafael Merry Del Val (1965-1930)

Today marks the death of Cardinal Rafael Merry Del Val (1865-1930), papal diplomat and cardinal. Born Rafael María José Pedro Francisco Borja Domingo Gerardo de la Santísma Trinidad Merry del Val y Zulueta in London to a Spanish diplomat father and an English mother, he lived in England until he was thirteen. Ordained in 1888, [Read More...]

This Day in Brooklyn Catholic History

This day in 1922 marks the dedication of St. Peter Claver Church, the Diocese of Brooklyn’s first African-American parish. The parish was (and is) located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a growing center of African-American life in New York City since the First World War. Many of the first parishioners were migrants from the Jim Crow South looking [Read More...]

Angelo Secchi, Jesuit Scientist

Today marks the death of Father Angelo Secchi (1818-1878), Jesuit scientist and inventor. Born in northern Italy, he joined the Jesuits at age sixteen. Ordained in 1847, he was soon assigned to direct the observatory at the Gregorian University, a position he held until his death. His contributions to science were numerous. He was active [Read More...]

Catholic Cemetery Home to Early Baseball Players

Because so many of the early professional baseball players were Irish Catholics, looking at old Catholic cemeteries is like going through a Who’s Who of Baseball history. Today in 1934 marks the death of Baseball Hall of Fame player and manager John J. McGraw (1873-1934) (seen here on the left), who is buried in a [Read More...]

Which Bishop Kearney?

Today in 1935 marks the day that Raymond A. Kearney (1902-1956) was consecrated an Auxiliary Bishop for the Brooklyn Diocese. Born in Jersey City, his family moved to Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant section when he was a child. He was a parishioner at Nativity of Our Blessed Lord Church, where he attended the parochial school. He then [Read More...]

Felix Varela: Cuban Patriot and Priest

Today marks the death of Father Felix Varela (1788-1853), priest, scholar, and Cuban patriot. Orphaned at three, he was raised by his grandfather in Florida. He returned to Cuba at fourteen to study for the priesthood. Ordained at age 23, he became a seminary professor. He would eventually publish seven books on philosophy and social [Read More...]

Lithuanian Parish Founded in Queens, 1908

Today marks the day in 1908 that the First Mass was celebrated by Father Nicodemus Petjus at Transfiguration Church in the Maspeth section of Queens. The parish was founded as Queens’ first (and only) Lithuanian Catholic parish. By the turn of the century Lithuanians were moving into western Queens in large numbers, and they wanted [Read More...]

Mother Mary Augustine Giesen (1860-1950)

Today marks the death of Mary Augustine Giesen (1860-1950), foundress of the Sisters of St. Francis of Maryville. Born in Minnesota, she joined the Sisters of St. Mary in St. Louis as a young woman. In 1894 she and six sisters founded a separate community, the Sisters of St. Francis of Maryville. That year they [Read More...]