Cause for the Canonization of
Servant of God
"Apostle of the Alleghenies"
Diocese plans to petition sainthood for Gallitzin
by Associated Press
The Washington Observer-Reporter - 11 March 2007
LORETTO -A diocesan task force plans to formally petition Sunday for sainthood for the Reverend Demetrius Gallitzin, an 18th century Russian prince who forsook his wealth to become a priest in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania.
Frank and Betty Seymour, the lead researchers on a task force on the issue, will present their petition to Bishop Joseph V. Adamec when the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown opens the official inquiry into canonization for Gallitzin.
In June 2005, Adamec announced that Gallitzin had attained the status of "Servant of God," the first of several steps on the ladder to Roman Catholic sainthood. Sunday's ceremony is another significant step toward having Gallitzin declared a saint.
The son of a Russian prince who left that life at age 29 to emigrate to the United States, Gallitzin in 1795 entered a Baltimore monastery and became the first priest to receive full orders and be ordained in the United States.
He was sent to an area that later became Cambria County, where he used his money to buy part of what is now Loretto and spent his royal fortune building sawmills, gristmills, tanneries, a church and a model farm.
Born Dec. 22, 1770, in The Hague, Netherlands, Gallitzin is known as the "Apostle of the Alleghenies" for bringing Roman Catholicism to south-central Pennsylvania.
"He literally gave up everything to pursue a life of extraordinary hardship in order to plant the Catholic church here on this frontier," said Betty Seymour, a retired teacher.
Teams of historians and theologians will examine Gallitzin's life for "heroic virtue" and, eventually, medical specialists must examine two alleged miracles credited to Gallitzin. No miracles have been associated with Gallitzin thus far.
Miracles attributed to Gallitzin's intercession must be recorded and confirmed by the Vatican after he is beatified in order for him to qualify for sainthood. Miracles alleged to have occurred before that time don't count toward sainthood.
"This is a rare moment in the history of our diocese," Adamec said in a statement.
Although time and expense make it unusual for a diocese to champion a cause for sainthood, Monsignor Michael Servinsky, vicar general of the diocese, said they are trusting God for the money and are hopeful costs will be low because Gallitzin's writings are well catalogued.
Gallitzin died in 1840 of a strangulated hernia related to a fall from a horse years earlier. His body was securely entombed in the 1950s.
Frank Seymour remembered when, as a child, he slipped his hand into a broken corner of Gallitzin's glass-domed coffin in what is now the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, where Sunday's ceremony will take place.
"You could feel his dust, which felt like silk," said Seymour, who founded the Prince Gallitzin Historical Association of Loretto in 1988.