Edward Warren.

One hundred years of progress : a graphic, historical, and pictorial account of the Catholic Church of New England, Archdiocese of Boston. online

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Online LibraryEdward WarrenOne hundred years of progress : a graphic, historical, and pictorial account of the Catholic Church of New England, Archdiocese of Boston. → online text (page 1 of 86)
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James S« Sullivan, M. D,, ed.


Boston & Portland
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Henry O'Brien




BOSTON puinc immm


contents upon him. His Grace may be deeply moved and yet not give outward expression to his emotion. On
this occasion, however, he yielded to it in a way that revealed an intenseness of feeling not generally expected.
It was characteristic of his unselfish nature that, joyful though the occasion was, the expression should take the
form of indignation for hurt inflicted upon the most defenseless of his assistants. This was manifested in his
speech made at the reception given him by the Boston Catholic Union, and which next day thrilled the city.
Referring to the anti-Catholic demonstrations evoked by the protest of a priest against the teaching of false
history in the public schools, he said among other things: "It is not the accusations that were made against
us, not the revilings even, not even the insults that I find fault with, but the attacks which were made on the
virtue of our ladies in religious societies. The revilers attacked the clergy, but to that we were less sensiti\^,
because we are men. But when they attacked women who had devoted their lives to virginity, spouses of
Christ, and kept up the attack ; when placards were placed on our walls and not torn down- by the authorities of
the city — then it was almost time to resent the injuries. And yet, you remained quiet. F<5r 'tliis I gi\-e you
credit, and for this I am proud to-day. It was a time, indeed, for every one to mutter..arfcl gnash Ijis teeth as he
went through the streets. For myself I knew that the trouble came not from the l^etter part of , the coramimity.
It was only a storm that was passing over. What affected'me most- — and I will give- vent to jt to-night^ was
not the insults, nor the accusations, nor the revilings, but I was ashamed for Bosto'ri that air this did not com-
mence with those who expressed them openly, but came in cold blood from hidden leaders for political effect."
"In the twenty-five years preceding this celebration, missions of more or less importance were established
by the Redemptorists, Marists, Franciscan, Oblate, and Augustinian Fathers. There were introduced, for the
teaching of schools and the care of asylums and hospitals, the Xaverian Brothers, the Sisters of the Sacred
Heart, Sisters (If St. Joseph, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth,
the Gray Nuns of Montreal, Halifax Sisters of Charity, Madison Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Providence, Sisters
of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Sisters of St. Anne, School Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and the Montreal
Brothers of Charity.. Immediately after the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, parochial schools began to
multiply at a ratithat gave a phenomenal increase. Perhaps the most important institution established w.is that
of St. John's Tl5i::,ological Seminary at Brighton, founded in 1884. According to the Catholic Directories of the
present year theriL^'-e now 176 churches, 400 priests, 99 parochial schools, 7 female academies, 3 colleges, i
theological seminary,^'33,ooo pupils in Catholic schools, 122 ecclesiastical students, 10 orphan asylums with 1,000
orphans, and 7 hospitals, while the Catholic population is about 575,000.

In the Ecclesiastical Province of Boston, which includes the whole of New England, on the territory which
first comprised the Diocese of Boston, there are now, to quote the same authority : i Archbishop, 8 Bishops, 1,150
priests, 287 seminaries, 738 churches, 154 chapels and stations, i theological seminary, :^o academies, 296
parochial schools, 55 charitable institutions, 98,260 pupils in parochial schools, and the Catholic population is
estimated at 1,363,000 souls. "^


Bishop Br#y was born in the County Cavan, Ireland. Having completed his studies for the priesthood
at All-HalloweS College, Dublin, he received Holy Orders in 1S65. The field of his mission was the Diocese
of Boston. On arriving here he was assigned as curate at St. Vincent's Church, on Fort Hill.i Not long
after, he was transferred to Newburyport, where he was when called to the pastoral charge of Amesbury in
1868. He served in this capacity for twenty-three years. In that time he replaced the little wooden structure
that had been used as a house of worship by a fine brick church, capable of seating 1,200 persons; he built a
brick school-house where the Catholic children of the parish have been receiving a grammar and high-school
education; he built a convent for the teachers, the Sisters of St. Joseph; and last of all he erected a comfortable
rectory. Father Brady had been permanent rector three years when he was elevated to the episcopate. He
was consecrated in the Cathedral of Holy Cross, Boston, August 5, 1891. At the ceremonies His Grace, Arch-


bishop Williams, was the consecrator, with Bishop O'Reilly, of Springfield, and Bishop Harkins, of Providence,
as assistants; Very Rev. William Byrne, D. D., V. G., was assistant priest; Rev. Thomas H. Shahan and Rev.
Joseph H. Gallagher were deacons of honor to the Archbishop; Rev. Denis O'Callaghan and Rev. M. T.
MacManus, deacons of the Mass; Rev. James Talbot, D. D., master of ceremonies; and the sermon was
preached by Bishop Bradley of Manchester. Besides the prelates and clergymen already mentioned, Bishop
de Goesbriand, of Burlington, and about 200 priests were present in the sanctuary.


The Very Rev. William Byrne, D. D., is the present vicar-general. High executive ability has distin-
guished the performance of his official duties. He was born in 1835, in Kilmessan, County Meath, Ireland,
not far from the birthplace of the late John Boyle O'Reilly. He came to this country at the age of nineteen,
and had engaged in teaching a school near Baltimore, when, urged by a feeling that his true calling was
the priesthood, he threw up all to prepare for that. His theological studies were made at Mount St. Mary's
College, Emmittsburg, and he was ordained priest for Boston, December 31, 1864. For some time before
his ordination and after it he was professor of mathematics and Greek in the college. He was called to
Boston late in 1865. In the following year he was appointed chancellor of the diocese. He was assigned
to the pastoral charge of St. Mary's Parish, Charlestown, in 1874. In this capacity it fell to his lot, June 6,
1875, to be the first Catholic priest permitted to hold divine service in the Charlestown State Prison. Upon
the death of Father Lyndon, in 1878, Father Byrne was appointed to the office of vicar-general. Appealed to in
behalf of Mount St. Mary's College, whose affairs had fallen into disorder, he accepted the presidency of that
institution in 1880, and in three years succeeded in placing it upon the stable footing it has since maintained.
Pie received the degree of Doctor of Divinity, in 1880, from Georgetown College. On returning to Boston he
went to the Cathedral, where he acted as administrator of the Archdiocese during the absence of the Arch-
bishop, until February i, 1884, when he was appointed pastor of St. Joseph's, West End. He served in the
same capacity in 1S87, and represented the Archbishop in Rome at the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of
Pope Leo XIII., in 1888. As a writer, the vicar-general is master of a terse, clear style. Among his
productions are the account of the Catholic Church in Boston in the Memorial History of Boston; his recent
book on "Catholic Doctrine," which has received commendation from the highest authorities in the country,
and articles contributed to Donahot s Magazine on the school question and other topics.


The office of chancellor of the diocese has been filled with marked ability by the Rev. Richard Neagle
since July, 1886. Previous to his appointment he had spent nine years as assistant at St. Mary's Church,
Charlestown. Born July 19, 1854, at Bradford, Mass., and graduated at Holy Cross College, Worcester, when
nineteen years old, he was ordained priest, at St. Joseph's Seminary of Troy, by Cardinal McCloskey in May,
1877. He is the spiritual director of the Young Ladies' Charitable Association, of Boston, an organization
that has become remarkable for the large amount of good it has accomplished in the few years of its existence.
In 1891 he spent several months visiting in Europe and the Holy Land.


Chancellor Archdiocese of Bosto


Catbebral of tbe IfJol^ Cross.

T the close of the RevoUition, a few Spaniards and Frenchmen, with thirty Irishmen,
comprised the Catholic community of Boston. Abbe Claude Florent Bouchard de la
Poterie, an ex-chaplain of the French fleet, formed them into a congregation. Having
procured authority from the Rt. Rev. John Carrolh
Bishop of Baltimore, it is alleged that he offered
his first Mass in the residence of a Mr. Baury, on
Green Street. In lygo a little Huguenot meeting-
house on School Street was hired. After making some alterations in it, and naming
it the Church of the Holy Cross, Abbe Poterie celebrated in it the first public Mass,
November 2, 1788. The Abbe, who left for the West Indies, was succeeded in 1790
by the Rev. L. Rousselet, or Roussclot, as Mr. John Gilmary Shea calls him, also a
French priest. Tliis clergyman did not remain long as, by Bishop Carroll's appointment, the Rev. John Thayer
took charge of the New England mission June 10, 1790.

The lot on which the Huguenot Church was erected was bought in 1704, for "one hundred and ten pounds
current silver money of New England," on which "to erect and build a church for the French conTeoation."
It was situated about midway between the present site of the Parker House and Washington Street; the
dimensions of the lot being 43^^- feet on " School House Lane," as School Street was then called, 36 feet on
the side towards what is now Washington Street, 88^- feet on the side towards Tremont Street, and 35^ feet on
the rear line. The small brick church was not erected for about ten years from date of purchase of the land.
In 1748, the congregation had dwindled down to about seven male communicants, and was then sold to the
trustees of a new Congregational Church for "three thousand

pounds of good bills." This society continued to use the Q CZJ^ ^ /Ij n0

building for a meeting-house for some years, when it was Q^'Vi^ J^<^'*^'^^^
sold to private parties who leased it to Father Thayer. C/

During the year 1791 Dr. Carroll paid a visit to Boston and was most cordially received and entertained,
as would appear from a letter he sent to Governor Hancock after his return to Baltimore. This letter is dated
August 28, 1791, and in it Dr. Carroll warmly e.xpresses his gratitude to the Governor and his lady, also to
Mrs. Jaffray, Mr. Sheriff and his sister, the Rev. Mr. Thatcher, and Judge Sullivan for their civilities and

Father Tha}'er w.is the first Enghsh speaking pastor, and is regarded by some authorities as the first
legitimate pastor of the Church of the Holy Cross. He was a convert to Catholicity. Born in Boston, of
Protestant parents, he was brought up in all the prevailing misconceptions of the Catholic Church and its
followers. After serving two years in Boston as a Congregationalist minister, he yielded to a secret desire to
travel by going to Europe in 1 78 1 . His stay in France and Italy disabused him of his misconceptions. In Rome,
he made a study of the Catholic religion, as he might have of the Koran, had he been in Constantinople. To
do this the more completely, he obtained the assistance of a Jesuit Father and an Augustinian Friar. His
investigation ended in convincing him that only the Catholic Church taught the true religion of Christ. In
Rome, on May 25, 1783, he publicly abjured Protestanism and announced his purpose to enter the Catholic
Church. Subsequently, deciding to become a priest, he studied at the College of St. Sulpice, in Paris, and in
due time was admitted to Holy Orders.







On entering upon his pastoral duties in Boston, in tlie year 1790, lie found that tlie number of his flock
did not exceed one hundred. In order to secure himself and them from possible molestation, he made it his first
care to procure a lease of the School Street building. Then he took up his missionary work with enthusiasm.
He made special efforts to convert his Protestant fellow countrymen. Through the newspapers, he offered to
preach on the evenings of week days in any of the neighboring towns, provided a room or hall was furnished
him for the purpose. Also, in the month of January, 179 1, he began a course of controversial lectures in the
School Street Church, delivering two each week, for the benefit of the same people. Numbers of Protestants
went to hear him and many conversions resulted, but considerable antagonism was aroused.

On August 20, 1792, he received from Bishop Carroll an assistant, in the person of the Rev. Francis
Anthony Matignon, D. D. Dr. Matignon was one of four distinguished clergymen who, driven from France by

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the Revolution, landed in Baltimore June 24, 1792. He laad been Regius Professor of Divinity in the College
of Navarre. Born in Paris, November 10, 1753, his youth was devoted to study and the practices of religion.
Having completed the course of St. Sulpice, and taken the degree of Doctor of Divinity, he was ordained priest
September 10, 1778. He has been described as an accomplished Christian gentleman. Constantly studying
the wants and anticipating the wishes of all he knew, he was a scholar of wide range, and was gifted with a
sound judgment and a rich imagination. He was just the sort of man needed to relieve the tension of the
situation in Boston at that time. His learning and piety caused him to be widely respected, while his unfailing
courtesy, gentleness, and patience disarmed hostility. His assistance enabled Father Thayer to carry the gospel
to other parts of New England.

In 1799 Bishop Carroll found it necessary to send Father Thayer to Kentucky. While engaged in this
mission he conceived the plan of establishing a convent school for girls, such as he had often seen in Europe,
in his native city. To collect funds for this object, with the permission of the Bishop, he went to Europe a
few years later. In Limerick, Ireland, death put an end to his pious work, February 15, 1815. His project
had been condemned as foolish and impracticable, but he was able to bequeath Dr. Matignon from eight to
ten thousand dollars with which to begin its execution.

Dr. Matignon succeeded Father Thayer in the charge of the New England mission. The Rev. John

Cheverus, who had been recalled from Maine a short time before, was his assistant. The united labors of

these two ideal priests were rewarded with the happiest results. Not the least gratifying of these was the

allayment of the animosity which many of their Protestant neighbors had come to entertain against the

^atholics again.

Another of these results was the increase of the congregation to such a number as to make apparent the
need of a larger place of worship in the near future, the Catholic population at this time being estimated at
1,300. The lease of the church on School Street was about to expire, and they had to decide whether to renew
the lease or select another place. Under these circumstances a suggestion to build a church was favorably
received. At a meeting held in the church on Sunday, March 31, 1799, Don Juan Stoughton, the Spanish
Consul, John Magner, Michael Burns, John Duggan, Patrick Campbell, Owen Callaghan, and Edmund Connor
were appointed a committee to consider the matter, and report at another meeting to be held on the following
Sunday. At the second meeting, in accordance with the committee's report, there was opened a subscription
list, which, by a preamble, bound each signer to pay half the sum promised immediately, and the other half
within six months from that time. In this way, after a few days, $3,202 was pledged by 212 persons. This
was a large sum for people in the circumstances of these pioneer Catholics. It surpassed expectation and
greatly encouraged the promoters of the enterprise. So great was the zeal awakened, that some of the poorest
members of the congregation gave all the money they had, while others promised to contribute half their
earnings by monthly payments until the object was attained.

Contributions poured in steadily after this. The project seems to have awakened general interest in
Boston. About 140 persons of Protestant creeds, headed by John Adams, President of the United States,





sent in donations. Also, from the South, came more subscriptions, in response to Dr. Matignon's appeal.
The total amount collected before the building was finished was $16,153.52. Protestants contributed $3,433.00
of this sum. Of the remainder, $10,771.69 was given by members of the congregation, and $1,948.83 by
other Catholics. At another meeting, held. October 28, 1799, it was decided to buy from the Boston Theatre
Corporation a lot situated at the foot of Franklin Square, as a site for the proposed church, for $2,500. This
done, the property was made over to P)ishop Carroll and Dr. Matignon in trust for the congregation. The
plans of the church were gratuftously furnished by James Bulfinch, who also superintended the erection with-
out remuneration. Subsequently, in testimony of their gratitude, the congregation presented Mr. l-julfinch
with a beautiful silver urn valued at $165.

(jround w.\s broken for the foundation of
the church on St. l^atrick's Day, in the year
1800. More than three years elapsed before it
was ready for dedication. 'J'he ceremony was
performed September 29, 1S03, by IJishop Car-
roll, assisted by Dr. Matignon, Father Cheverus,
and two other priests. Having robed in the
house of the Spanish Consul, on Franklin Square,
they went in ]irocession to the cliurch, attended
by a few acolytes. Here a large assemblage,
partly drawn by curiosity and partly by devotion,
awaited them. The building was blessed in con-
formity with the prescribed forms, under the
name of the Church of the Holy Cross. Then
followed a Pontifical High Mass, also celebrated
by Bishop Carroll, and Father Cheverus preached
an appropriate sermon. The collection taken up
on this occasion amounted to $286.

The church was a brick structure of Ionic
design, built over a stone basement, and meas-
ured 60 feet front by 80 feet depth. Besides a
gallery for the choir, it had one running along-
each side for the use of worshipers. Prominent
among the interior furnishings was a striking altar-piece, representing the crucifixion, painted by Lawrence
Sargent, a Boston artist of that day. A bell was presented to the church, some time later, by General Hasket
Derby, a Protestant, and grandf.ither of the present Dr. Hasket Derby, the well known Boston oculist. The
total cost of the church was $20,000.

When New England was constituted the Diocese of Boston in iSoS, it was by Dr. Matignon's request that

his assistant, Father Cheverus, was made Bishop, so little influence with him had mere considerations of self.

O ^ /^ „ Te'i years later, on September 19, after having

■+- ia^Lx^ /^>W^ ^, ^ ^^^-$ labored unremittingly in the New England mission

tx *'*''*'Xi»-c,t^ ^V.« t-" •* / for twenty-six years, he passed to his reward. His

body was first taken to the Granary burying-ground and deposited in the vault of John Magner. Soon after
Bishop Cheverus purchased the land for St. Augustine's Cemetery. After it was prepared for its purpose
and dedicated he had the remains of his friend re-interred there. They now rest in a vault within the little
Mortuary Chapel near the altar, and a memorial tablet, set in the w.ill on the epistle side, bears eloquent testi-
mony in gilded lettering to the respect and affection in which he had been held by Bishop and people.

The Rev, William Taylor was the next clergyman of note who served as pastor of the Cathedral. Bishop
Cheverus, who had previously appointed Father Taylor his vicar-general, when leaving for France in 1823,
entrusted the affairs of the diocese to his administration. Upon the arrival of Bishop Fenwick, Father Taylor




resigned with tlie purpose of going to Europe. This left the Rev. Patrick Byrne the only priest at the

The enlargement of the Cathedral was one of the first objects to receive Bishop Fenwick's attention. With
the exception of St. Augustine's Mortuary Chapel in South Boston, there was no other place of worship within
the city limits. The congregation had largely increased in the first twenty-five years, and was then too numerous
to be accommodated in the Church of Holy Cross. In accordance with a plan drawn by the Bishop, another
building, 72 feet wide by 40 feet in depth, was added at the rear gable. Begun in 1827, the work was completed
in the following year. Besides increasing the capacity of the auditorium, it furnished much needed space for
school-rooms in the basement story. Here was kept a school which, taught by ecclesiastical students, became
a nursery for still more ecclesiastical students. 'Among its pupils was John J. Williams, destined afterwards to '
become the Archbishop of Boston. The first ordination in the Cathedral took place in the Ember Days of
December, 1827, when the Rev. James Fitton and the Rev. William Wiley were admitted to the priesthood.
On August 13, 1834, two days after the destruction of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown, a guard of armed
citizens held at bay a mob that came to wreck the Cathedral. Occasionally afterwards, parties taken from the
congregation were obliged to take turns in watching it lest it should fall a prey to the Know-Nothing incendiaries.

After serving its purpose for nearly threescore years it was at length resolved to abandon it. Once more
the congregation had outgrown its capacities. Its timbers were weakening with age. Owing to the encroach-
ments of business the locality had become most unsuitable for a church. A strong desire for a Cathedral worthy
of the diocese had developed. Influenced by these considerations, Bishop Fitzpatrick disposed of it in Sep-
tember, i860, to Isaac Rich at the much enhanced price of $115,000. The last services were held on the i6th
of the same month, when Bishop Fitzpatrick, assisted by the Rev. James Fitton and the Rev. Michael Moran,
celebrated a Pontifical. High Mass. So deeply affected by the occasion was the Bishop, that he distrusted his
ability to preach the sermon without giving way to his feelings and he substituted a letter.

A site for the new Cathedral, situated at the South End, had been purchased in 1859, but for sufficient
reasons work was not begun before the Bishop's death, in 1866. In the interval the episcopal residence was
established in South Street, and, for a time, a hall on Washington Street, called the Melodeon, was used for
Sunday services, while Sunday-school was held in the Chapel of the Holy Family on Beach Street. In 1862
the Unitarian Church at the corner of Washington and Castle Streets was purchased, and, beginning December
10, was thereafter used as a pro-Cathedral.

Almost the first act of Bishop Williams, upon assuming episcopal charge of the diocese, was to appoint
the Rev. P. F. Lyndon vicar-general and rector of the Cathedral. He did this in order that the erection of
the new Cathedral should be supervised by Father Lyndon, who had shown remarkable business capacity in
other positions. On April 29, 1866, ground was broken, and on September 15 of the following year the
corner-stone was laid with impressive ceremonial. In response to Bishop Williams' first appeal for funds to

Online LibraryEdward WarrenOne hundred years of progress : a graphic, historical, and pictorial account of the Catholic Church of New England, Archdiocese of Boston. → online text (page 1 of 86)