This Day in Brooklyn Catholic History

On December 19, 1875, Transfiguration Church in Williamsburg was dedicated. Founded in an area originally known as Wheat Hill, Father John Fagan celebrated the first Mass in a carpenter’s shop on Hooper Street in 1874. (He wanted to name the parish St. Sylvester after his friend and old boss Father Sylvester Malone, but the Bishop [Read More...]

Two Great New Books on Hopkins

The last few months have seen two great books on the English Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins: a fictionalized account by Ron Hansen, and a biography by Paul Mariani. I’ve always found Hansen’s books a pleasure to read, and this is no exception. I knew of Paul Mariani as a poet and literary biographer, and [Read More...]

Cardinal Newman on the Classics

Many years ago, I came across this quote from Cardinal Newman from A Grammar of Assent. He talks here about how the Classics take on a deeper meaning as we get older: Let us consider, too, how differently young and old are affected by the words of some classic author, such as Homer or Horace. [Read More...]

Why You Have to Be Careful With Wikipedia

You have to be careful what you read on Wikipedia. It’s a great resource in a lot of ways, if you know what you’re looking for. Not too long ago I found a Wikipedia entry on Edmund A. Walsh (seen here with Douglas MacArthur), who was the subject of my dissertation and my first book. [Read More...]

The Pope’s Army

Most people don’t realize that for over a thousand years, the Pope was a political (temporal) ruler as well as a spiritual one, complete with his own army. The Papal States covered a fairly sizeable chunk of central Italy. Temporal rule ended in 1870 as Italy was united into one nation. But the Papal States [Read More...]

Pius XII and the Nazis

Since Rolf Hocchuth’s 1963 play The Deputy, there’s been an ongoing debate regarding the alleged silence of Pope Pius XII with regard to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. On the one side, Pius is castigated for not speaking out strongly enough. Some even go so far as to suggest that he was secretly pro-Nazi, a [Read More...]

How Important is Catholic Church History?

Whenever I teach a course on Church History, I like to begin with the following quote from one of the all-time great historians, Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859). In an 1840 review of Leopold Von Ranke’s History of the Popes, he said this to say about the Catholic Church’s impact on human history. Coming from a [Read More...]

Great American Catholic History Resource for Teachers

The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., has an Archives that is one of the best resources for any student of American Catholic History. The Archives has recently created an online resource for teachers to use in the classroom. They sum it up rather nicely in their website: The American Catholic History Classroom is [Read More...]

Native American Nuns

Thanks to Deacon Greg Kandra for alerting me to an interesting new book. It’s about a short-lived order of Native American nuns founded in the late 1800′s by a Jesuit who worked among the Sioux. They were called the Congregation of American Sisters. I thought I knew a lot about American Catholic history, but it [Read More...]

This Day in Brooklyn Catholic History

Bushwick got its name from the Dutch, but like most New York neighborhoods, it’s had quite a few makeovers since then. Long a center of Hispanic life, in recent years it’s become home to a growing Hipster population fleeing Manhattan rent. Before either of them, Bushwick was a center of German-American life in New York [Read More...]


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