Cause for the Canonization of 

Servant of God 

Demetrius Gallitzin

"Apostle of the Alleghenies"




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Prince-turned-priest on path toward sainthood

by Associated Press, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh Post Gazette - 7 June 2005

LORETTO, Pa. -- The Rev. Demetrius Gallitzin, a European prince who forsook his wealth to become a priest in the Allegheny Mountains of 18th century Pennsylvania, has attained the status of "Servant of God," the first of several steps on the ladder to Roman Catholic sainthood.

Bishop Joseph V. Adamec, who heads the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, announced the decision yesterday.

The ruling by the Congregation for Saints of the Holy See means the process of determining whether Gallitzin qualifies for sainthood will continue.

"In Loretto, we have always believed he is a saint," said Betty Seymour, who heads a task force dedicated to promoting Gallitzin's saintly credentials. "What we are asking for is that he be declared (a saint) for all the world."

Seymour, her husband Frank, and the Rev. John Byrnes, a diocesan priest, are pushing to have Gallitzin canonized.

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.

Gallitzin is known as the "Apostle of the Alleghenies" for bringing Roman Catholicism to south-central Pennsylvania. He died in 1840 of a strangulated hernia related to a fall from a horse years earlier.

"So many people trace their roots and their religion from this settlement here," Seymour said of Loretto, her hometown.

Bishop Adamec has asked area Catholics to submit any information about Gallitzin to the diocese, including any allegations of miraculous intervention by the priest.

The Vatican must approve Gallitzin for two higher levels of honor, veneration and beatification, before he can be considered for sainthood.

Roman Catholics believe they can ask dead believers to intercede with God on their behalf. Miracles attributed to Gallitzin's intercession must be recorded and confirmed by the Vatican after he is beatified for him to qualify for sainthood. Miracles alleged to have occurred before that time don't count toward sainthood, Seymour said.

Miracles must be verified by the Vatican as part of a rigorous process, she said.