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...]

L.A.’s First Bishop

During the 1800’s, the Vincentians made some significant contributions to the American hierarchy: Joseph Rosati in St. Louis, Leo De Neckere in New Orleans, Jean Marie Odin in Texas, John Timon and Stephen Vincent Ryan in Buffalo. Today marks the birth of Thaddeus Amat (1811-1878), second Bishop of Monterey, which was created in 1850 as [Read More...]

Quite a Woman

An interesting if little known figure in Church History is a French Ursuline named Marie of the Incarnation (1599-1672), a mystic and an activist who worked as a missionary in Canada. A widow at an early age, she got interested in the missions after reading about the work of the Jesuits. After raising a son, [Read More...]

The Civil War General Who Became a Priest

Along with Church History, the Civil War has been a big interest of mine ever since I can remember. So I try to wrap the topics together whenever I get the chance. I knew that a number of Civil War veterans had joined the priesthood, but I never heard of any generals taking this route. [Read More...]

New History of Vatican II

Father John W. O’Malley is a Jesuit historian teaching at Georgetown University. He’s one of the best Church historians around (and he’s also a really nice person). If you’re interested in the history of the Jesuits and what makes them tick, I can’t do better than recommend his 1993 book The First Jesuits. Over at [Read More...]

The Man Who Would Be Cardinal

December 20 marks the birth of Bishop Thomas A. Becker (1832-1898), first Bishop of Willmington (1868-1886) and sixth Bishop of Savannah (1886-1899). Unlike most of his fellow bishops, Becker was not a “cradle Catholic.” Born Thomas Baker in Pittsburgh, he became a Catholic while studying at the University of Virginia. (His parents were so mad [Read More...]

No Way to Treat a Bishop

December 20 marks the death of Bishop John DuBois (1764-1842), New York’s third (and the only non-Irish) ordinary. A friend of the Marquis de Lafayette, he fled the French Revolution. Coming to America, he stayed with Patrick Henry, who taught him English. At that time Catholicism was a largely English and French community. When he [Read More...]