Cause for the Canonization of 

Servant of God 

Demetrius Gallitzin

"Apostle of the Alleghenies"




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A Prince In the Service of The Great King

The Catholic Register - January 5, 2009

    In a new series of articles, Betty Seymour, serving with her husband, Frank, as postular of the Cause for the Canonization of the Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, explains the evidence for the "heroic virtues" of the Prince-Priest.

In the preface to her biography of Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin,  Sarah Brownson gives as her main aim, “to be accurate and exact, to present…his character…in its completeness, for it was one of marked originality, of rare consistency, and of unusual gracefulness…showing him…even greater in what he was than in what he did.  He formed his character, or it formed itself, according to the commands of the Church, the precepts of the Gospel, the counsels of the saints, and (he) measured all his undertakings and all his motives by the highest standard of Christian perfection, so that like other great and holy men, he was beyond his age, misrepresented and misunderstood”.

In his early missions, Fr. Gallitzin found much to dishearten him, “All seemed to him started on a false basis, and in the spirit of the world, not of Christ.”  He wanted for those under his charge, “to bring a better-souled life among them as well as a temporal one more in consonance with spiritual ordering”.  He had a, “clear conception of what a Catholic community should be; he had fixed opinions of organization, of regularity…the slip-shod way in which communities came together at that early and drifting period, was a positive torture to him”.  Trustee interference and dictation in church matters was, “an abomination to him, to which he would never yield.  He saw in it the germ of that system which has since borne such bitter fruit of schism and scandal…”  For he who had seen what such irreverence and insubordination had done for Europe , “culminating in indifference to religion, in lack of reverence for the sacredness of its ministers and sacraments, in disregard of all authority spiritual or temporal…”Gallitzin knew he could not allow it in his Catholic community.

Throughout her biography she offers the reader glimpses of Gallitzin’s priestly life.  His sermons to his people were plain doctrinal instructions with the aim of uniting his parishioners in heart & mind to the early apostles & saints, teaching them “…how to infuse the light of the mysteries of religion into their simple daily life”.  In preparing his sermons,“…he showed a force and breath of thought, a rare word power; which only constant study, continued mental activity, aided by the Holy Spirit could give”.   He was, “unrelenting in his austerities, ever cheerful with his people, he pointed every word and act toward the one great aim he had in view: to make every life within his reach loyally, practically, fervently Catholic…he never permitted them to hold the salvation of their souls as a separate thing.”

When he gave himself to the service of God he kept back no talent, no accomplishment.

He was of stern integrity-severely just, rigidly upright in all his dealings.  He had an iron will and loving heart with all the light and grace of the church, all the strength and power of the truth…he was a man of unusual force. This force became quite evident when Fr. Gallitzin was inspired to make a written public reply to the publication of a minister’s sermon in a neighboring community.  This discourse, “contained all, or nearly all, the slanders which successive generations of heretics and infidels have been able to concoct against the Church of Christ .”  Gallitzin’s Defence of Catholic Principles and subsequent letters, “created a great excitement, were soon published in one pamphlet, and went through many editions in a few years.  By means of these letters Gallitzin, if we mistake not, was the first in this country to enter the controversial lists in behalf of the Church.  His success was from the beginning most remarkable; this and a second book written some years later, have been translated into German and French, and widely circulated in England, Ireland, France, and Germany, as well as all over the United States; it is said by American and Irish bishops and priests, who have ample opportunities for judging, that they know of no books of their kind in the English language which have made so many converts.”