Cause for the Canonization of 

Servant of God 

Demetrius Gallitzin

"Apostle of the Alleghenies"




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The following article was published in 6  parts in The Catholic Register from February 18, 2008 to April 28, 2008

During the pontificate of the late Pope John Paul II, a record number of persons were beatified and canonized, prompting criticism that the Church had become a “saint - making factory.”  The response from the Vatican has always been that the Church doesn’t make saints; rather, it recognizes saints and declares them worthy of veneration by the faithful.

Causes of beatification and canonization follow a careful series of norms and regulations mandated by successive Popes.  Betty Seymour, one of the postulators for the Cause of the Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, has provided an outline of the procedures involved in his Cause in order to acquaint the people of the Altoona - Johnstown Diocese with the procedures now in place and being followed regarding Father Gallitzin.


Gallitzin’s Cause For Sainthood Is Initiated In The Diocese Of Altoona - Johnstown

 In January, the Church marked the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of Divinus Perfectionis Magister, a document issued by Pope John Paul II to simplify the Church’s procedures for the declaration of Sainthood.  The pontiff followed his letter with a section in the new Code of Canon Law, “Norms to be Observed in Inquiries Made By Bishops in the Causes of Saints.”

Pope Benedict XVI in a recent address to the Vatican ’s “saint - making” experts explained that the process is less complicated under the new rules, but still retains the “solidarity of research” needed before someone is canonized a Saint.  Divinus Perfectionis Magister generated major reforms in the centuries - old process of canonizing a Saint.  There has been a departure from the judicial or adversarial approach.  Now, local Bishops have the authority to initiate of cause of beatification and canonization.  In addition, the major research on a Cause is conducted in the local Diocese, by persons appointed by the Bishop. 

Although the process has been streamlined, the seriousness, thoroughness and integrity of the process has not been sacrificed.

According to Mrs. Seymour, Father Gallitzin’s Cause began when certain steps had been followed and determinations had been made:

*  On July 6, 2005 a Task Force was formed from a “grass - roots” local movement to determine if a formal Cause should be started;

*  The many articles and books written about the “saintly” Gallitzin, plus the many years of pilgrimage, attested to by the number of signatures recorded at the Prince Gallitzin Chapel House in Loretto, were examined for an indication that Father Gallitzin had been considered saintly over the long expanse of time since his death in 1840;

*  The determination was made that the Diocese of Altoona - Johnstown was the competent place for a Cause to be initiated, since it is where he worked and died:

*  It was determined that since more than 30 years have elapsed since Father Gallitzin’s death, his would be an “historic Cause,” i.e. one with no living witnesses to his life and ministry.  In pursuing the cause of a “confessor” verification must be made of the existence of a true and widespread reputation for sanctity.

*  In January 2005 petitions were sent to Bishop Joseph V. Adamec requesting that a letter be sent to Rome for a “Nihil Obstat” (no impediments/no obstacles) for the Cause.  Bishop Joseph’s request was sent in March.

*  In June 2005 the Congregation for the Causes for Saints informed Bishop Joseph there were no impediments standing in the way of initiating Father Gallitzin’s Cause.  In issuing the Nihil Obstat, Father Gallitzin was given the title “Servant of God.”


Beginning The Process

When the Congregation for the Causes for Saints informed Bishop Joseph V. Adamec that there were no impediments blocking the initiation of a Cause for Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, The Diocese of Altoona - Johnstown began the process to begin the Cause.

In accord with Norms from the Holy See, as reformed by Pope John Paul II in 1983, several appointments had to be made to oversee the efforts:

- - Monsignor Michael Servinsky was named “Delegate Instructor” to serve as Bishop Joseph’s representative overseeing all aspects of the Cause;

- - Frank and Betty Seymour of Loretto were named Postulators of the Cause.  Mr. and Mrs. Seymour have been directed to collect primary source materials about the life and ministry of the Servant of God Demetrius Gallitzin, contacting all archives that might possess such materials.  The Postulators have also been directed to make know the spirituality of the candidate and promote devotion to him; to address the monetary concerns of financing the Cause; and to deal with the investigation of a miracle, if one should occur before the completed works are sent to the Vatican;

- - Father Angelo Patti was named the Promoter of Justice;

- - A Theological Commission and an Historical Commission were named consisting of experts charged to read, study and evaluate everything concerning Father Gallitzin.  The Theological Commission studies only Father Gallitzin’s own writings.  The Historical Commission studies those writings and all that has been written about him.  In 1940, a book, Gallitzin’s Letters 1815 - 1836 was published, providing a concise collection of Father Gallitzin’s letters written in defense of the faith.  This book is an invaluable tool to the two Commissions.  

The Diocesan Inquiry

When the appointments were made by Bishop Joseph, the Diocesan Inquiry Phase of the Cause commenced.

According to Mrs. Seymour “The diocesan inquiry has as its goal the collection of all the proofs concerning the life, heroic virtues, the reputation of sanctity of the Servant of God, as well as the proofs of possible miracles.  However,” she continued “the latter inquiry must be done separately from the inquiry concerning the heroicity of virtues.”

On Sunday, March 11, 2007 , at the Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel in Loretto, built in the shadow of the tomb of the Prince - Priest, Bishop Joseph V. Adamec celebrated a Mass that marked the formal opening of the Cause for Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin.  During the Eucharist, all the officials of the Cause took solemn oaths to uphold and carry out their duties, and to keep secret about matters pertaining to the workings of the process.  

Getting Down To Work

 The formal opening of Prince Gallitzin’s Cause on Sunday, March 11, 2007 meant that the commissions appointed to study the life and ministry of the Prince - Priest could now begin their work in earnest.

On that day, each commission member received 230 copies of Father Gallitzin’s letters, collected from archives across the country, and additional documents.  The members of the Historical Commission received many articles concerning Father Gallitzin, the first installment of such documentation, with many more to follow.

The Cause has received a major boost from a source in Europe , according to Betty Seymour.  “An archives in Munster , Germany , sent us a CD of over 200 letters and documents concerning Father Gallitzin.  Even more importantly, was that we received from them several copies of original letters by Gallitzin.  The challenge,” Mrs. Seymour explained, “is that these letters and documents must all be translated into English.  (A full report on this collection will appear in the next edition of The Catholic Register.)

When the work commenced on March 11, 2007 is completed, Mrs. Seymour said another daunting task will face the local officials of the Gallitzin Cause.  “The documentation assembled will be sent, under seal to Rome for the second formal phase of the Cause,” she said.  At this point in the process new officials will be appointed, and another document called a “positio,” the study of the virtues of Father Gallitzin, will be prepared.


The Cause In Rome

 Study of all the documentation in Rome by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints could lead to a favorable response allowing the Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin to be known as Venerable.  Such recognition would allow world - wide notice to be given to his cause, and a wider dissemination of the prayer for his intercession, as well as devotional items, which could include relics.

If a miracle through Father Gallitzin’s intercession would be reported, two options would face the local Church.  Such a report could be investigated here in the Diocese of Altoona - Johnstown , and the reports concerning it would be sent to Rome with all the other documents.  Another option would be to send all documents assembled to date, and then allow Rome to do all of the investigative work concerning a possible miracle.

No matter which option would be chosen locally, only approval by Rome of a miracle through Father Gallitzin’s intercession would assure his beatification.  Another miracle, which would be investigated in Rome , would then be needed for his eventual canonization.

In either scenario, when the local documentation of Father Gallitzin’s Cause is sent to the Vatican , officials there will carefully investigate everything they are sent, before any public pronouncement on his sanctity is made.  


 The research involved with the Sainthood Cause for the Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin and carried on by the postulators, and the historical and theological commissions is extensive, time - consuming and labor - intensive.  All of the writings of Father Gallitzin must be collected, documented and studied.  Theologically it must be determined that everything written by the Servant of God is in complete conformity with Church doctrine.  Father Gallitzin’s writings will provide a clear understanding of his virtues and his growth in sanctity.  Historically, everything will be viewed from the times in which they were written.  This is the job of experts in the history of Father Gallitzin’s era.

The process of collecting documents began with an official diocesan letter to 30 archival centers, libraries, religious institutions and museums in the United States and in Europe .  Visits were made to surrounding county courthouses for documents on legal transactions involving Father Gallitzin.  In addition to serving as a pastor and missionary circuit priest, Father Gallitzin was also a land broker, an official lawyer (representing his parishioners in court) and financial operative, borrowing from institutions for himself and others.  Such activities involved him in travel beyond his mission territory to Baltimore , Washington , Lancaster and Philadelphia .

The Prince - Priest wrote many letters to Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore, his brothers priests, wealthy individuals (including Charles Carroll, the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence), bankers, newspapers, etc., and received an extensive correspondence in return.  Beginning in 1815 and continuing through 1839 he wrote several booklets of apologetic literature, including his best - known work, Defence (sic) Of Catholic Principles.  These writings are extremely valuable to the collection as they reveal Father Gallitzin’s expansive knowledge of scripture, and his thorough understanding of Catholic doctrine.

A good response has followed the request for archival material on Father Gallitzin.  As predicted, the Associated Archives in Baltimore contained a wealth of original letters and documents, because Father Gallitzin often wrote to Bishop Carroll reporting the status of his mission territory.  Also preserving Gallitzin material were the archives of Mount Saint Mary’s University, Emmitsburg MD; Saint Vincent Archabbey and College, Latrobe; Saint Francis University , Loretto; Mount Gallitzin Academy , Baden ; Mount Aloysius College , Cresson; Sisters of Mercy, Mid - Atlantic Regional Community, Dallas; Georgetown University , and the University of Notre Dame.  The archives of neighboring Dioceses - - Erie , Greensburg , Pittsburgh and Harrisburg - - and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, also responded with material.  The Erie Diocese claims Faqther Gallitzin as their first vicar general, and produced a fine pamphet on his life.

“The most surprising response to our letter came from an archival museum housing letters/documents of a prominent family in Munster , Germany ,” said Mrs. Seymour.

“I first became aware of these letters through a lovely lady from near Munster , Elisabeth Lammers, who became my pen - pal in 1999.  I was introduced to her, via air mail, through Diana Gresley of the Nicktown/Spangler area,” Mrs. Seymour explained.

Gresley’s daughter established connections in Germany while stationed there with the Air Force.  Elisabeth Lammers and her husband, Wolfgang, local historians, often spoke of Father Gallitzin’s mother, Princess Amalia, who had been an outstanding member of the “ Munster Circle ” from the late 1700s until her death in 1806.  Said Mrs. Seymour “Elisabeth and Wolfgang were hoping to get information on Amalia’s son and his ministry in our country.”    

A Wonderful Gift

 Betty Seymour’s pen - friendship with Elisabeth Lammers of Munster, Germany, which began in 1999, has yielded some amazing results for Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin’s Sainthood Cause.

“After four years and several delightful letters exchanging information, Elisabeth sent me copies of two original letters of the young Prince Gallitzin, written in 1791 - - one year before he sailed to this country - - to his friends, the Von Droste - Vischering brothers.  What a gift!,” Mrs. Seymour exclaimed.

“Of course, I was curious to know what else the museum in Munster contained relating to our Father Gallitzin,” Mrs. Seymour continued.  “From this point on, continuing to the present, the challenge has been translation” of the original materials, she explained.

Translating e - mails and letters from the museum’s director has been problematic, and has covered such areas as directives for use of the materials sent to this country, and instructions on how to wire money to the museum for services rendered.  But more problematic has been the question of translating Father Gallitzin’s letters, and other materials related to him.  But thankfully, Mrs. Seymour said “There have been a few wonderful and generous persons who have done this work.”

The letters in the Munster Museum “are all in German or French, and there has been no problem with the ones written in French.

“However, the hand written letters, written over 200 years ago in German, are in a specific dialect.  None of our volunteer translators are familiar with that dialect,” said Mrs. Seymour.  “When Elisabeth sent the first two letters, she typed them into modern German, which we then had translated.  When I informed her of our present difficulties, she and her husband, Wolfgang, volunteered their services.

“Wolfgang,” she noted, “traveled to the museum and faithfully hand - copied each letter, and Elisabeth began typing them for us.  This will take much time and effort, and then, of course, all of the letters will need the work of our translators.”

The Von Droste - Vischering brothers were two of the young Catholics who formed part of the “ Munster Circle ” gathered around Baron Von Furstenburg and Princess Amalia Gallitzin, mother of Father Demetrius.  The brothers, Caspar Maximilian and Clemens August both became priests and Bishops, serving in Munster and Cologne .  The Von Droste - Vischering brothers were almost exact contemporaries of Demetrius Gallitzin, and like him imbibed solid Catholic intellectual principles from their contact with the Munster Circle .

As Archbishop of Cologne from 135 - 1845, Clemens August was initially held in great favor by the Prussian government, but eventually ran afoul of King Frederick William III and his ministers, when he defended the rights of the Church in regard to marriages between Catholics and non - Catholics.  For two years, 1837 - 1839, he was held as a prisoner of the state in the Fortress of Minden.

Pope Gregory XVI vigorously defended the Archbishop and denounced his imprisonment.  Archbishop Von Droste - Vischering was freed and his reputation restored when a new King ascended the throne of Prussia .

The Archbishop visited the Vatican in 1844 and refused the Pope’s offer to name him a Cardinal.  He retired to Munster where he died on October 19, 1845 .  

Virtues And Miracles Examined

 The postulators for the Cause of the Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin know that someday all of their work involving the life and ministry of the Prince - Priest will be sent to the Vatican’s Congregation for Causes of Saints.  When the Vatican involves itself in the process, an important step advancing the heroic missionary’s Cause could be taken.

When the documentation about Father Gallitzin’s life and ministry is assembled by the Commissions investigating his sanctity, members of the Congregation for Causes of Saints will examine it, and be asked to determine whether or not Father Gallitzin gave evidence of “heroic virtue.”  In his book, Canonization, Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father William H. Woestman makes these points about heroic virtue:

- - Heroic virtue does not have to end in martyrdom.  The candidate does not have to have been favored with mystical gifts.  Simply put, heroic virtue signifies that a person in his/her whole way of acting was faithful to the faith, animated by charity, sustained by hope, and that as a consequence, practiced the cardinal virtues;

- - The constant faithful and joyful fulfillment of all the duties of one’s state of life in the midst of the difficult daily trials is called heroic; the heroic tendency to perfection and to heroic sanctity;

- - It is precisely the process of progressive assimilation to Christ that Christian heroism demands.  One must respond with a total and unconditional love which must be supremely active.

Father Woestman includes another definition of heroic virtue “that could have been written for Father Gallitzin,” stated Mrs. Seymour:  “Indeed, it is in the wear and tear, in the routine and tedium of daily life, that true heroism is differentiated from merely apparent heroism . . . Christian heroism is lived in an ordinary life with faith and constancy, and is perfectly Christ - like.”

If a determination of heroic virtue is made in Father Gallitzin’s favor, his title would change from ‘Servant of God” to “Venerable,” Mrs. Seymour explained.  At that point, it would be permissible for the Cause to be given more than local notice; a world - wide dissemination of information about Father Gallitzin would be possible, with prayers for his eventual beatification and canonization being sought, and permission given for a distribution of his image on holy cards and other devotional items being allowed on a wider scale than is at present permitted.  Third class relics - - generally pieces of cloth touched to his remains - - could also be made available to the faithful.

The Vatican would also have to be involved in the investigation of any miracle attributed to Father Gallitzin’s intercession.  Father Woestman says “Miracles confirm the existence of the ‘power from on high’ which operates in the natural order and surpasses it . . . these signs confirm in different ages and in the most varied circumstances the truth of the gospel and demonstrate the saving power of Christ who does not cease to call people on the path of faith.  This saving power of the God - Man is manifested also when the miracles - signs are performed through the intercession of an individual, of saints, devout people . . . just as the first sign at Cana was worked through the intercession of the Mother of Christ.”

Alleged miracles “receive a most searching examination, based on both historical criticism and medical science,” said Mrs. Seymour.  One verified miracle would be needed for Father Gallitzin’s beatification; another would be needed for his canonization.