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Demetrius Gallitzin

"Apostle of the Alleghenies"




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A Prince In the Service of The Great King

The Catholic Register - October 13, 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.

Father Constantine Pise's article about Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, written just one year after the death of the Prince-Priest, makes a convincing argument for the herocity of Father Gallitzin's virtues.

According to Father Pise, Gallitzin 

"crossed the Atlantic , with the view of observing the progress of civilization and human liberty in the republic of the United States .  But Providence … had other views: in the midst of his career…the convictions of religion came upon his spirit with irresistible energy.  He had been born into the Greek Church, which, ever since the seventeenth century, had separated from the See of Rome.  He was in quest of truth; and once convinced where it was to be found, he made up his mind to obtain it, at the peril of all things else.  By taking this step (converting to the Roman Catholic Church), he was fully aware that he was blasting all his future worldly hopes- that he was incurring the inexorable displeasure of a father, who before had doted on him, and was closing the doors of imperial favor forever."

Father Pise goes on to say Gallitzin 

"consulted the oracle of the American Catholic Church- John Carroll-at that time Bishop of Baltimore, whose memory is as dear to our country as it is sacred to our religion.  It was this immortal Bishop through whom he was admitted into the pale of the Catholic Communion.  His course in that venerable institution (the Theological Seminary at Baltimore ), was edifying and exemplary; and on the 19th of March, anno 1795, he received the order of priesthood from the hands of Bishop Carroll."

Father Galltizin's sacrifice of worldly honors was heroic, according to Father Pise.  

"His name, his fortune, his accomplishments, his piety, would have richly entitled him to them (the highest honors of the Church).  But, instead, he courted obscurity; and under the anonyme, as it may be termed, of “Rev. Mr. Smith”, he retired into the interior of Pennsylvania , and commenced the exercise of the ministry on one of the farms belonging to Georgetown College , called Conewago.  He extended them into the bosom of the Alleghenies.  There, in the midst of a few poor families, he began his apostolic labors…and continued in that wild retreat…he gradually drew large congregations.  They only who have witnessed it, can form an idea of his boundless charity.  Thousands now live to proclaim it, and bitterly bewail the loss of it, by his departure into another world.  His ample fortune was spent in affording them temporal comfort, while his life was exhausted in conferring on them spiritual consolations."

Father Pise paid his tribute to Father Gallitzin's intellect: 

"The Reverend Demetrius Gallitzin was gifted with rare intellectual endowments- and, as an author, occupies a conspicuous rank among the ecclesiastical writers of America .  He had become a master of the English language, which he spoke and wrote almost without any foreign idiom or accent.  His “Defence of Catholic Principles”, holds a place among the standard polemical works of our country.  His manner of writing is vigorous; and a spirit of candor and a tone of high breeding preside over his most earnest and ardent works of controversy. He is keen; but he cuts with a polished razor:  and when he meets his antagonist in the  theological arena, he encounters him according to the tactics of honorable warfare; and in his victory, he is calm, forbearing, and just."

Drawing his article to a close, Father Pise paid a final tribute to the Prince-Priest Gallitzin: 

"Full of merits and good works, this venerable priest expired, in the 71st year of his age, on the 6th of May, 1840 .  In his demise, the Church has been deprived of one of her most eminent divines- the sanctuary, of one of its brightest luminaries- the community, of one of its most accomplished ornaments- the poor, of their best benefactor- and a numerous congregation, of their devoted pastor and father.  The tears of many will bewail his loss!  His grave is made in the solitude where his life was spent:  and better rest, in peace, under the green turf watered by the tears of the poor, than lie neglected and forgotten beneath the stately mausoleums of the great.  

He has gone to receive the reward promised to the good and faithful servant- and his memory, as “Pastor of the Alleghenies”, will be in benediction in the annals of the Church."