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 - September 15, 2008

    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.

After 35 years at his mission in Loretto, Gallitzin was then 64 years of age in the year 1834 when Lemcke came as his assistant.  “During the first period of our acquaintanceship”, said Lemcke, “ I was at times inclined to consider him, not indeed as ignorant, but as a man who had not advanced with the times and was woefully lacking in the things with which I…fancied myself equipped.  His entire demeanor, too was of a kind to invite such illusory thought.  However, I soon perceived that I was very much mistaken and that I should have to draw in sail.  I began to realize that a thorough study of theology drawn from the eternally pure fountain-heads of the past and combined with meditation and simple, clear thinking, was something quite different from all the wisdom acquired by consulting compendia and encyclopedias…And then (in reference to a book of Lemcke’s) he expatiated upon stigmatization, ecstasy, and similar conditions, and how misleading and perilous it is to place too much stock in such phenomena as authenticated truth; and he did this with such circumspection and thoroughness that my amazement at the veteran theologian – so outspoken and so keenly on his guard – grew each moment.”

From this point on, the two became very close.  Lemcke preached at Loretto the first Sunday of the month and visited as often as his busy schedule permitted.  He came to understand Gallitzin as few others did and attested to his many virtues.  Explaining some thoughts on this, he said, “It is not the purpose of Christianity to destroy anything of a soul’s sub-stratum, but it tends to ennoble its every faculty and guide it to its proper destiny.  This it did for Gallitzin, in whom a stubbornness…was developed into an indomitable determination which true followers of Jesus Christ join with generosity and gentleness, a truly beautiful and extraordinary union and a characteristic that must mark him who would work in the Lord’s vineyard, and work successfully.  Hence, too, the saying, ‘every saint is most persevering,’ ‘Sainthood always implies a certain stubbornness.’ That this holy determination had attained stature in Gallitzin, no one will deny…” (Lemcke then refers to the many trials & tribulations met by Gallitzin in his career and finishes with)…Never, not even under the most trying circumstances, did the firm and resolute will with which he had made and executed his original decision, desert him, not even on his deathbed.  When he had passed away after a painful illness and unspeakable sufferings, borne with patience and fortitude, one of the bystanders…remarked: “Does he not look like a battle-scarred warrior who has just won a victory?’”

In 1837 Fr. Lemcke, in a letter to a German priest in reference to Gallitzin, wrote, “In this respect [social life, etc.] I do not receive much from the aged, venerable Gallitzin.  Since I am twelve miles removed from him, I see him even more rarely now.  He is wholly shut up within himself, having been confined to himself for forty-two years.  But he is the noblest, purest, and most godly man I have ever met.  One must first learn to know him.  He gave up everything, absolutely everything, and what is most important – he gave up himself.  Hence he now enjoys undisturbed peace, already there is an angelic look in his eyes, and I am convinced that he could lie down any moment and sleep away with smiling mien, like a tired child.”

“When I first saw Gallitzin he was indeed very thin, and his general appearance frail.  But his carriage was erect, his walk firm and quick.  His voice was loud and sonorous, his look keen and determined.  However, toward the close of the year 1839 all this changed very noticeably, and I was quite concerned…I often begged him to spare himself and let me take care of the work.  But of this he would hear nothing, remarking that since there was not much opportunity anymore for a missionary to render praise to God through bloody martyrdom, he should at least desire to be permitted to collapse like an old worn-out cart horse.”