Native American Baseball Pioneer had Jesuit Connections

Louis Francis Sockalexis (1871-1913), known as “Chief,” wasn’t the first Native American to play in the major leagues (that honor goes to James Madison Toy in 1887), but he was the most famous in the game’s early years. Raised Catholic on the Penobscot Indian Reservation in Maine, a Jesuit working at the reservation put him [Read More...]

Louis Armstrong’s Catholic Roots

Suppose you were born Catholic and never knew it? That seems to have been the case with Louis Armstrong. In his biography of the Jazz great, Lawrence Bergreen talks about Louis’ baptism (which Louis himself apparently never knew about): According to his own, cherished tradition, Louis Armstrong was an all-American jazz baby, born in New [Read More...]

Polish Catholics in Brooklyn

Since today is the Feast of St. John Cantius (1412-1473), Polish priest and theologian, this is as good a time as any to focus on a local parish named in his honor. St. John Cantius Church was founded in 1902 for Polish Catholics in Brooklyn’s East New York section. The Poles have long moved out [Read More...]

1960′s Catholic Comic Book Predicts African-American President

A comic book housed in The Catholic University of America Archives has attracted a lot of attention for a 1964 issue depicting an African-American presidential candidate who looks a lot like President-elect Barack Obama. It’s really amazing! The Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact was published by George A. Pflaum of Dayton, Ohio, and provided [Read More...]

Peter Pan and the Nuns

One of the most interesting websites I’ve seen in a long time is Find a Grave, which lists the famous (and some not so famous) people buried near you. There I discovered a fascinating (and touching) entry on actress Maude Adams (1872-1953), who’s buried at the Cenacle Convent in Ronkonkoma. But she wasn’t a nun, [Read More...]

From Russian Prince to Frontier Priest

Today marks the birth of Demetrius Gallitzin (1770-1840), a Russian aristocrat who became a missionary in Pennsylvania during the nation’s early years. As a young man he converted to Catholicism. While he was visiting America he decided to stay and become a priest. In 1795 he became the first priest ordained in the U.S. who [Read More...]

St. Paul in Nineteenth Century America

Today marks the death of Isaac Hecker (1819-1888), the Thomas Merton of his era: a youth whose spiritual journey led him to Catholicism and the priesthood, and became a bestselling author on religious topics. Born in Manhattan, he was looking for a church that offered “the full range of the Christian experience.” Baptized a Catholic [Read More...]

A Nasty Cartoon!

Thomas Nast (1849-1902) is the father of the American political cartoon. He’s also the creator of the Republican elephant and Democratic donkey. A hater of injustice, his cartoons advocated the rights of Native Americans and African-Americans. But there was one group he had no tolerance for: the Catholic Church, which he considered a fomentor of [Read More...]

New Dominican History Blog

The Dominican Fathers in Washington, D.C., have created a great blog devoted to the order’s history. Check it out here. It’s a magnifcent resource on all things Dominican, national and international, replete with video and audio resources. I’m looking forward to reading more of it, because I’m sorry to say I don’t know as much [Read More...]

“The Second Apostle of Germany”

Today is the Feast of St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597), who is best known for his work in sixteenth century Germany. He was the first Dutch Jesuit (former Jesuit General Peter Hans Kolvenbach is among the more recent). Ordained in 1546, he taught in the first-ever Jesuit school, started in Messina in 1548. In 1549, Pope [Read More...]