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Demetrius Gallitzin

"Apostle of the Alleghenies"




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To mark the bicentennial of Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin’s birth in 1970, The Catholic Register printed a series of biographical articles about the Prince - Priest by local historian Grace Murphy.  As part of the 1990 observance of the 150th anniversary of Father Gallitzin’s death, the articles, revised by Monsignor Timothy P. Stein, editor, appeared again, under the title “Gallitzin:  A Prince Of Peace.”  Now, as the Diocese of Altoona - Johnstown officially inaugurates the Cause of the Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, we are pleased to present an updated version of the 1990 revised articles.

   Published in the Catholic Register from April 2, 2007 to September 17, 2007

Part One


The man history remembers as the Servant of God Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin was born December 22, 1770 at the Hague , capital of the Netherlands .  He was known at birth as Prince Dmitri Gallitzin, scion of an old and aristocratic family long in the service of the Russian Imperial Court .

Russia in 1770 was ruled by Catherine II, wife of Peter III.  The great Catherine was a woman who relied heavily upon the counsel of her favorites.  One of these was the father of the new - born Prince Gallitzin.

Empress Catherine depended upon Prince Dmitri Alexeievich Gallitzin to represent her and the Russian Empire at the diplomatic circles of the western world.

For 14 years the Prince represented his sovereign in Paris .  He collected for her art galleries the most famous masterpieces in the world.  He filled her libraries with the most sought after books.  Gallitzin even engaged renowned writers to offer Catherine their services.

It was through the Empress Catherine that Gallitzin met Amalia Von Schmettau, daughter of Field Marshal Count Samuel Von Schmettau of Prussia .  They were married in 1768, in Berlin .

Gallitzin was named Russian Minister Plenipotentiary at the Hague .  As they journeyed there, the young couple’s first child, Princess Marianne was born, on December 7, 1769 .

At home at the Binehof Palace at the Hague , Princess Amalia befriended the wife of William V, hereditary ruler of the Dutch.  After the birth of the baby Prince Gallitzin, the son of the Prince and Princess of Orange would be one of his earliest playmates.

The glamour of the Dutch capital in 1770 provided the backdrop of the early years of the little Prince Dmitri.  It was a time and place of great wealth.  The Dutch East India Company brought the riches of the Orient to the city.  The world was enjoying a time of comparative peace.  A blind gaiety was the order of the day.

In 1773 the Gallitzin family was honored by a visit from the Russian Empress herself, Catherine the Great.  A plague was ravaging her country, and she took refuge in a European tour.  During this trip, Catherine served as Dmitri’s godmother when he was baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Dutch Prince, husband of Princess Amalia’s friend, had a country house where his family retired when not engaged in functions of government.  A roadway led past this estate from the Hague , to Sheveningen, a fishing village on the North Sea .

A Dutch official, Franz Hemstenuis, owned a pleasant country villa on this boulevard, neighboring the royal estate.  The Princess Gallitzin and her children moved to this house in 1774.  Here, little Prince Dmitri enjoyed the company of peasant children and fishermen’s families, and renewed his friendship with the children of the Prince and Princess of Orange .  At the country estate, the Prince was first exposed to the world of trees, farms and flowers, and began to learn the laws of nature.

This country estate in time became the center of a literary circle.  The senior Prince Gallitzin continued to engage in diplomatic affairs and his wife, deciding that academic brilliance meant more than social success, began her association with famous authors and teachers.

In the 18th century, children were considered infants until their tenth year.  According to all accounts, young Dmitri Gallitzin enjoyed his infancy, completely overshadowed by his brilliant diplomat father, and his beautiful, academic mother.

Prince Dmitri’s boyhood friend, Prince William of Orange , grew up to become King William I of the Netherlands , ancestor of Holland ’s current monarch, Queen Beatrix.  Considerations of politics and worldly status were far away from the minds and experiences of the children who played together in the woods of their country home.




Part Two


Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin descended through his father and mother from a long line of European aristocrats.

The father of Father Gallitzin was a member of a family that had served the Russian rulers since at least the early 13th century.

Prior to the rule of Tsar Peter I, Russia was part of the oriental world.  Peter, known as “the Great,” opened his country’s windows to the western world.  He traveled to Europe , worked as a ship’s carpenter in Holland , and later engaged Dutch artisans to teach and train craftsman in Russia .

Although history records that the Tsar was an irreligious man, he chose singularly pious people for administrative posts in the Russian Orthodox Church.  Among these persons was Princess Anastasia Prosorovsky Gallitzin, who was named superior general of all nuns in Russia .  The great - grandmother of Father Gallitzin, the Princess Anastasia was known as a kind and gentle superior.

Not all the members of the Gallitzin family fared so well in court circles.  When a leading member of the family became a Roman Catholic, the Empress Anna punished him by making marry an old and ugly hag.  She forced the newlyweds to spend their wedding night in a palace built entirely of ice.

Father Gallitzin’s father was Prince Dmitri Alexeivich Gallitzin (1734 - 1803).  In contrast to many of his ancestors, this Prince Gallitzin chose to serve in the fields of science and diplomacy, in preference to the battlefield.  He began his career in Turin , Italy , and then for 14 years (1754 - 1768) was Russia ’s Minister of Extraordinary Affairs in Paris .

Gallitzin’s period of service in France was during an era marked by many divisions in French national life.  Radical writers, dissatisfied with the ancient class system, wrote books and articles that aroused much resentment among the workers and peasant classes.

Ironically, since he was one of the world’s wealthiest men, the radical writers found a generous patron in Prince Dmitri.  He financed the publication of Claude Adrian Helvetius’ treatise on economy, and wrote a forward to it.  Later, the Prince was to write his own treatise on economics.

The Prince was interested in arts and letters of every sort.  Through his connection with Helvetius, the Prince was to meet Benjamin Franklin.  The two men would exchange ideas on theories of electricity, which Gallitzin would later develop as a book.  Eventually, Gallitzin would become a member of Russia ’s Imperial Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg , and president of the Jena Mineralogical Society.

The 18th century was also a time in which Freemasonry strengthened the forces of world revolution.  Gallitzin became the Grand Master of the Oriental Lodge of Freemasons of Paris.

In 1768, while traveling to Russia to receive a new assignment, the Prince stopped at the German spa of Aix - la - Chapelle.  There he met the woman he would marry before continuing on his journey.

The mother of Father Demetrius Gallitzin was Countess Amalia Von Schmettau, the daughter of Field Marshal Samuel Von Schmettau, commander of all the armies of Prussia ’s King Frederick II.  Amalia’s mother was the Baroness von Ruffert.

Amalia was raised in a convent school, following her mother’s Roman Catholic faith.  She remained a pupil of the nuns until her early teenage years, when she was sent to a finishing school in Berlin .  From the start of this period, Amalia became indifferent to religion.

At the time of her meeting with the Russian Prince, Amalia was serving as lady in waiting to the Princess Ferdinand, sister - in - law to King Frederick.  The young Countess was entranced by Prince Gallitzin and married him in Berlin so she could journey with him to Russia , and thence to his new posting in the Netherlands .




Part Three


Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, son of Prince Dmitri Gallitzin and Countess Amalia von Schmettau, was not to be the only famous Catholic member of his family.  Nor was he the only member of the family to become a pioneer missionary in the United States of America .  A Gallitzin cousin, Princess Elizabeth, became a Catholic and later joined the Religious of the Sacred Heart in France .

Princess Elizabeth Galitzine was born in Saint Petersburg , Russia , on February 22, 1795 , the daughter of Prince Alexis Galitzine and Countess Alexandra Pratasof.

Prince Alexis died when his daughter was only four - years - old.   Her mother became a Catholic secretly, after being instructed by a Jesuit, Father Jean Rosaven.

The Jesuits, the Society of Jesus, had been suppressed by order of the Pope, and forbidden to minister as Jesuits throughout Europe .  Only in Russia were they welcomed, because the Empress Catherine was impressed by their scholarly reputation.  Following her mother’s example, Elizabeth too became a Catholic and chose Father Rosaven as her spiritual director.

In 1825, with Father Rosaven’s encouragement, Elizabeth asked to enter the Society of the Sacred Heart, and was received as a novice by the foundress, Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat.  Mother Galitzine served as Mother Barat’s secretary, and as secretary to the Society’s General Council.  In 1839, she was named one of the assistant Mothers General, and in 1841 was charged to visit the Sacred Heart houses in the United States , to ensure their loyalty to the Motherhouse in Europe .

Mother Elizabeth Galitzine arrived in New York City on May 6, 1841 , exactly one year after the death in Loretto of her cousin, Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin. 

One of the first priests to meet Mother Galitzine was a Vincentian, Father Philip Borgna.  Father Borgna acquainted Mother Elizabeth with the story of her cousin’s ministry, and prevailed upon her to open a convent and academy in Pennsylvania , at McSherrystown in Adams County .

Father Borgna’s plea was made on the basis that McSherrystown was close to Conewago, the mission from which Father Gallitzin had been called to Cambria County on the famous sick call that marked the start of his ministry in the Allegheny Mountains . 

The Religious of the Sacred Heart accepted the McSherrystown mission in 1842.  After struggling for several years to make a success of the academy, they yielded the field to the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia .

In her brief sojourn in the United States , Elizabeth Galitzine laid the foundations for several Sacred Heart convents and academies.  When she returned to Europe she began almost at once to beg for permission to return to North America .

The relationship between Mother Galitzine and Mother Barat was often a difficult one.  Father Rosaven’s influence on the former Princess Elizabeth was strong; he hoped through her to influence the development of the Society of the Sacred Heart.  Hoping that Elizabeth would do less damage to the Society in America than she might do in Europe , Mother Barat allowed her to return to the United States in June 1843.

Despite the difficult nature of her character, and the tensions in her relationship with her Mother General, Elizabeth Galitzine died a truly heroic death within six months of her return to America .  Arriving at a Sacred Heart school in Louisiana in mid - November, she helped to nurse the sick and the dying stricken with yellow fever.  Weakened by the burden of travel, Elizabeth Galitzine died at Saint Michael’s Convent and Academy in Grand Coteau, Louisiana , on December 8, 1843 .  She was 48.

Biographies of Mother Galitzine and Father Gallitzin were written by another Catholic cousin, Prince Augustine Peter Gallitzin.




Part Four


There is an old saying among Christian families that a man’s sole world is the woman he loves, and a woman’s whole existence is her children.  Princess Amalia Gallitzin was such a woman, who lived only for her little boy, Mitri, and her daughter, Marianne.

The diplomatic circles of the Binehof Palace demanded the presence of the Princess at affairs of state, dinners, balls and visitations.  The Hague was the heart and center of European diplomacy.  Princess Amalia could afford little time for the nursery, and she envied the governesses of her children.

The Princess accepted the whirl of high society for three years.  Then one day in 1773, she told her husband, the Prince - Ambassador, she would endure it no longer.  Her children were more important to her than anything in the world.

The Netherlands was at that time a republic with a hereditary president called the “Stadholder.”  The House of Orange had been the ruling family for many generations.  William V of Orange ruled over the Low Countries at this time.  His wife was Princess Anne, sister of King George III of England .

Princess Anne lived most of the year on the tree - lined boulevard leading from The Hague to Shevenignen, a fishing village on the North Sea .  Princess Anne and her family would be the neighbors of Princess Amalia who in 1773 retired with her children to a beautiful country estate on the boulevard that she named “Nithuys” - - Dutch for “Nobody home.”  She cast aside the high, powdered hairdo, the long voluminous dresses, and wore in comfort the garb of the peasants.

Except for the necessary courtesies to diplomatic visitors, the Princess devoted all her time to the children.  She gave them a rather strenuous upbringing with cold showers and strict discipline.  They played along the sand dunes with the peasant children, and the philosopher Hanz Hemsterhius acquainted them with astronomy, basic mathematics and geometry.

The formal education of an 18th century child began at the age of 10.  Thus in 1779 the Gallitzins considered several methods for the education of their son.  His friendship with Voltaire led the Prince - Ambassador to purchase a house in Switzerland and prepare for a removal from Holland .  However, a friend of Princess Amalia informed her of a new method of education being introduced in the German city of Munster .  She visited the schools and found them to be first rate.

The Society of Jesus - - the Jesuits - - had been suppressed in 1773 by Pope Clement XIV, and their House of Studies on the Gruene Gasse in Munster had been taken over by the Baron von Furstenberg.  Princess Amalia rented this house from the Baron as her base of operations in Munster .  She was pleased with the educational system available there, particularly the facilities of the gymnasium.  In a short time she gathered around her, through the influence of her husband’s learned friends, a group of fine teachers in the various branches of study, including fencing, hunting and shooting.

The Princess’s next move was to lease the country estate of Angelmodde where she established a private school for her children and those of neighboring families.

Among the neighbors was the Von Droste family, destined to play a singular role in the life of the Gallitzins.

A Catholic family, the Von Drostes made a deep impression upon Princess Amalia.  Their orderly Christian family life so moved her that she wanted her son and daughter to emulate the Von Droste children.  Ultimately, this admiration led the Princess to return to the Catholic faith of her childhood and to bring her two children with her.

In June 1787 Prince Mitri and Princess Marianne followed their mother’s example and were received into the Roman Catholic Church.  They received their First Holy Communion as Catholics on Trinity Sunday, with spectacular ceremonies befitting their noble status.




Part Five


Confirmed at the parish church of Angelmodde , young Prince Demetrius Gallitzin gook the name Augustine.  He was 16 - years - old at the time, a quiet, gentle, handsome lad.

When the senior Prince Gallitzin heard the news of what had transpired, he journeyed to Munster immediately to confront his wife, Princess Amalia.  Not only did he personally distrust Catholic doctrine, but he knew that under Russian law, his now Catholic son could no longer inherit his titles and estates, or hold office in the Empire.  By embracing Catholicism, young Prince Mitri had cut himself off from a future of brilliant prospects.  The question of what to do with Prince Mitri now assumed a new urgency.

Young aristocrats of the 18th century were traditionally sent on a “grand tour” of the capital cities of Europe , as a means of rounding off their education and introducing them to the world of high society and diplomacy.  The troubled condition of the continent in the 1790s made such a trip an unlikely proposition for the young Prince Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin.

As was fitting for someone of his rank and background, Mitri was being trained for the life of a professional soldier at the University of Munster .  His conversion to Roman Catholicism had destroyed his chances for a commission in the Russian forces and it was thought he might join the armies of either Austria or Prussia .  Eventually, his parents decided he should make a “grand tour,” but to the new world of the United States of America , not the old world of Europe .

As a traveling companion for her son, Princess Amalia chose Father Francis Xavier Brosius, who had formerly been a tutor in the household of her friends, the pious and aristocratic Von Droste - Vischering family.  Mitri carried with him letters of introduction to Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore from the Prince - Bishop of Hildesheim.

It was rumored that one reason why his father consented to Mitri’s voyage was to divert his son’s attention from the desire to become a priest.  It was unthinkable for a Gallitzin, baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church and provided at birth with a high commission in the armies of the Empire to become a Catholic priest.  His father was certain the journey would turn Mitri away from this “wayward” call.

Mitri’s mother and some friends accompanied him to Rotterdam to see him board the ship “Jane” on August 2, 1792 .  At the last moment, when he saw his mother’s tears, Mitri faltered and spoke of returning home.  But Prince Amalia, in a sudden change of mood exclaimed “Mitri!  Mitri!  I am ashamed of you!”  Startled, the young man backed up and fell off the pier into the ocean.  Fortunately, he was a good swimmer, and Mitri was quickly taken aboard the ship which was to carry him and Father Brosius to the new world.

The voyage to the United States took seven weeks.  The ship arrived in Baltimore on October 28, 1792 and Mitri, with Father Brosius, was welcomed at the residence of Bishop Carroll, the first Roman Catholic Bishop in the new nation.

Prince Demetrius had chosen to travel incognito in the United States , using the name Schmet, an abbreviation of Von Schmettau, his mother’s maiden name.  In the United States , the name soon became the simple “Smith.”

At the direction of the Bishop, the travellers lodged in a tavern a mile outside of Balitmore recently purchased by a few exiled priests from Paris , of the Society of Saint Sulpice.  These priests hoped to establish a seminary for the new Diocese of Baltimore.  The Bishop felt the young nobleman would be more at home among French speaking priests than with English speaking people.  So, “Augustine Smith” took up residence with the Sulpician Fathers at the One Mile Tavern.




Part Six


When he send his son to the new United States of America , the elder Prince Gallitzin commissioned him to study the political scene of the new nation, and to observe the manners and ways of the American people.  Prince Dmitri Alexeivich Gallitzin gave Mitri letters of introduction to high ranking government officials to assist him in this task.

Mitri and Father Brosius traveled to Philadelphia in obedience to the Prince’s wishes.  Mitri wrote his father a vivid description of the country, the people he met, the customs and the laws.  His father replied in a letter from The Hague , dated January 28, 1794 :

“I have received your letter of October 1793.  It was a source of real pleasure to me, not only because you tell me you are enjoying perfect health but also because you are deriving profit from your travels.

“Your descriptions of the land from Philadelphia to Balitmroe shows excellent observation.  I was keenly interested in them.  Please continue this way until you return to us.  Judging from your description, the climate of these regions is quite the same as that of Moscow , being subject to the same changes.”

It soon became evident that Mitri was not interested in using his father’s letters of introduction to the leaders of Baltimore society.  He announced his intention of becoming a priest.  He kept himself in seclusion and spent much time in study.  His diary from this period reveals the childlike simplicity of his effort to reach out for perfection through obedience:

The 12th of March, 1793 .  Examined my conscience.  Considered particularly the good things I received from God, even from my birth.  he gave me the great desire to please Him by being faithful to Him, by surrendering everything to Him.  I made the resolution to spend a half - hour every Sunday meditating on why I might be continuing to offend God, and to write every month in a few words the principal points of my relationship with God and His holy will.

“My confessor to whom I give and owe entire obedience, consented to let me spend a half - hour, although I wanted to spend an hour on this meditation.  I also promised to spend at least five minutes every day reading the New Testament.”

When he announced to his parents his determination to remain in the United States as a priest, Mitri’s father wrote to his wife, Amalia, “He will never get my consent or approbation to enter the clerical state.”  Undeterred, Mitri eagerly appealed to Bishop Carroll to let him enter the new Sulpician Seminary in Baltimore .

News of this move by Prince Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin was received with dismay by his mother and fury by his father.  Their wrath, the alarm of his friends, and the confusion of European revolutions were far from the mind of the seminarian in the quiet halls of Saint Mary’s Seminary.  The remembrance of the peace, the scholarly atmosphere, the zealous discipline and pious example of the Sulpician priests set the pattern for Mitri’s future way of life.

The young priest was ordained by Bishop John Carroll on March 18, 1795 .  In the words of one of his earliest biographers, Orestes Brownson, Father Gallitzin was “the first - born of the Catholic Church in America . . . ours from the first page in his theology to the moment he arose from the consecrating hands of the Bishop.”

There had been one other priest, Father Stepehn Badin, previously ordained by Bishop Carroll, but he had received all the minor and major orders in France , and came to the United States as a deacon.  Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin was the first priest to receive all of his orders in this country, at the hands of America ’s first Bishop.





Part Seven


Following his ordination, Father Gallitzin was given a vacation at Georgetown , about 40 miles west of Baltimore on the Potomac River .  The Jesuit Academy at Georgetown , forerunner of the present university, complemented Saint Mary’s Seminary at Baltimore .  Both were the pride and joy of Bishop John Carroll.  Gallitzin’s classmate, Jean de Mondesir was teaching Latin and philosophy at the school, and it was suggested that Father Gallitzin might be usefully employed there too.

Mitri was 24 - years - old and on the brink of a long and active priestly life.  Months of sedentary study at the seminary had made him eager for a glimpse of life in the American hinterlands.  Leaving Georgetown , he returned to Baltimore by means of a 150 mile circuit into southern Maryland and beyond.

Mitri’s visit to Port Tobacco, a plantation on an estuary of the Potomac River , not far from the Chesapeake Bay , might never have been on record except for a letter from Bishop Carroll addressed to him at that place, dated April 17, 1795 :

“The arrival of Reverend Mister Napier and your messenger yesterday evening relieved our minds from the uncertainty and many fears concerning you.  You ought to have given us early notice of your delay and where you were.  How often you vary your projects gave me concern.”

It is a long letter, disclosing Mitri’s desire to remain at Port Tobacco for the rest of his life.  On the journey from Georgetown he had developed a severe cold.  Perhaps this illness was an excuse for his desire to remain there.  The Prince - Priest was fascinated and delighted with his new experiences and all that he saw in the vicinity of Port Tobacco.

Southern Maryland was the most Catholic place in the new United States .  The Superior of the Jesuits lived there.  In 1790, the Carmelite Nuns had established a monastery there - - the first house of religious women in the country.  Everything about Charles County, Maryland, pleased the newly - ordained Prince - Priest and provided him with a model for the Catholic community he would one day establish.

It is difficult today to realize the conditions faced by priests in the United States at the end of the 18th century.  At this time, there were few canonically established parishes.  Bishop Carroll’s Diocese, covering the whole country, was considered missionary territory.  Catholics were widely scattered on farms, and travelled many miles to celebrate Mass and the other sacraments, or waited for the priests to come to them.

Bishop Carroll could not honor Father Gallitzin’s request to remain at Port Tobacco.  He needed the young priest to preach to German - speaking congregations in Baltimore .  His assistance was also requested at the Pennsylvania mission station of Conewago.

Foregoing his own wishes, Father Gallitzin returned to Baltimore in obedience to the wishes of Bishop Carroll.




Part Eight


In the summer of 1795, the newly - ordained Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin ministered to the German - speaking Catholics resident in the city of Baltimore, preaching to them in their own language, and celebrating the Eucharist for them.  After his death in May 1840 there were found among his papers a group of homilies entitled by him “Sermons Given At Baltimore - 1795.”

Demetrius Gallitzin was no longer a bewildered European stranger in the new world.  He settled down to live a life of priestly routine.  Living with his teachers at Saint Mary’s Seminary and visiting Bishop Carroll often, Demetrius met the pioneer missionaries on their way to the west, north and south of the new Diocese.  These men became his heroes.  The great names of Washington, Adams and Franklin no longer fascinated him.

This change of attitude was reflected in his 1820 publication “Letter To A Protestant Friend” in which he advised “Do not be imposed upon by great names.  The true greatness of a man depends upon the depth of his humility and the perfection of his obedience.”

Baltimore , during the last decade of the 18th century, played host to a multitude of refugees from the French Revolution, and from the French West Indies .  Father Gallitzin made friends with these people, including the Pochon and Rodrigues families, and with Father Valentine DuBourg.

In August 1795 Gallitzin’s ministry took a new turn when accompanied by Bishop Carroll, he undertook a new assignment at Conewago in Pennsylvania .

The Conewago parish was centered on a tract of land granted to the Society of Jesus by John Digges, an uncle of Bishop Carroll.  The Jesuit plantation contained the priests’ house, a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the homes of many Catholic settlers.  Located in the present day Diocese of Harrisburg, Conewago at that time was on the Lancaster Pike.  Roads giving access to Baltimore in the south, Philadelphia in the east, and points in Western Pennsylvania passed through the settlement.  The parish church, still standing today, was built in 1787.  Blessed Pope John XXIII raised the venerable edifice to the rank of a minor basilica.

As assistant to the pastor, Father Pellentz, Gallitzin became a “circuit rider” missionary priest.  His particular circuit covered territory in Maryland and Virginia , and all the southeastern counties in Pennsylvania as far west as Huntingdon and Bedford.  The Conewago missionary activities extended in all directions for over 150 miles.

Mitri enjoyed the healthful climate, the good food, the pious atmosphere, the scholarly companionship of the priests, as well as the physical activities of a hardy missionary life.  He said Mass in the farm houses of the Catholics and helped to build chapels.  He served as pastor of Saint Joseph ’s Mission in Taneytown MD.  But in the autumn of 1795 he was to receive a call from the “backwoods” of Pennsylvania that would change his life.

Still known by pseudonym “Father Smith,” the Prince - Priest was summoned on a sick call that would eventually lead to the founding of Loretto.  The young priest answered the cry for help and solace as just a normal part of his missionary duties, though it entailed a trip of 150 miles to McGuire’s Settlement in Cambria County , on the fourth ridge of the Allegheny Mountains .

Here he was summoned to the non - Catholic wife of the Catholic John Burgoon.  Mrs. Burgoon was seriously ill and her husband was greatly concerned for her life.

Late in the evening on the fourth day of his trip, Father Gallitzin arrived at McGuire’s Settlement.  He administered the last rites to Susan Burgoon by lantern - light and received her into the Catholic Church.  The next morning, Father Gallitzin celebrated the first Mass in McGuire’s Settlement.

Happily, Mrs. Burgoon rallied and it became evident she would live.  The gratitude of the settlers, their warm reception and the promise of future growth in this beautiful countryside all made a profound impression on the young priest.  He resolved to soon return.




Part Nine


On his return to his own mission at Conewago, following his 1795 sick call to McGuire’s Settlement, Father Gallitzin petioned Bishop Carroll to appoint him the pastor there.  It would be four years before he had an affirmative answer.

Both Bishop Carroll and Father Gallitzin knew that McGuire’s Settlement could not support a priest, but Mitri had been receiving money from his mother, Princess Amalia.  Although he had forfeited his right to his father’s fortune because of his conversion and ordination, Father Gallitzin knew he could rely on his mother’s love and financial support for his new mission.

Gallitzin made the trip to his mountain home in a two - horse prairie schooner, in which were stored an altar, sacred vessels, vestments, altar wine, flour, coffee, a bed, a bureau, and more than a hundred books.  He lived for some months in the log cabins of the settlers until his own house was built, about a half - mile from the McGuire farm.

In a February 9, 1800 letter to Bishop Carroll, the young missionary wrote about the beginnings of his ministry in the mountains:

“Our church, which was only begun in harvest time, got finished fit for service the night before Christmas.  It is about 44 feet long by 25 feet, built of white pine logs with a very good shingle roof.  I kept service in it at Christmas for the first time, to the very great satisfaction of the whole congregation, who seemed very much moved at a sight which they never beheld before.

“There is also a house built for me, 16 feet by 14, besides a little kitchen and a stable.  I have now, thanks be to God, a little home of my own for the first time since I came to this country, and God grant that I may be able to keep it.  The congregation numbers at present about 40 families, but there is no end of Catholics in all the settlements about me.  What will become of them if we do not receive a new supply of priests, I do not know.  I try as much as I can to persuade them to settle around me.”

The community Father Gallitzin had come to had been established by a Revolutionary War soldier, Captain Michael McGuire, from Maryland , who had a hunting lodge in the area since 1768.  The first thing he did after moving to the mountains was to apportion four hundred acres for the building of a church, and the establishment of a cemetery.  He was the first person to be buried there, following his death on November 17, 1793 .

The first baptism to take place in McGuire’s Settlement after Gallitzin’s arrival was that of Joseph Bradley, son of Charles and Mary Bradley on April 8, 1800 .  The first marriage to be celebrated was that of Elizabeth Burgoon and John Cherry.

By 1803, the oridinal name, McGuire’s Settlement, was beginning to give way to Father Gallitzin’s preferred name for the community, “Loretto.”  This name showed the depth of his devotion to the Mother of God.

The Prince - Priest took the name from that of the famous shrine of “Loreto” in Italy , and the popular litany of the same name.  It was his custom to recite this litany, and the rosary, with the members of his household each evening.  These were also the prayers he said while on horseback, travelling between mission stations.  Among his notes was a plan to build small shrines honoring Mary under each of her titles from the Litany of Loreto.




Part Ten


The Russian aristocrat turned Roman Catholic priest, Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin became a naturalized American citizen in 1802; an 1809 act of the Pennsylvania Legislature permitted him to resume the use of the name Demetrius Gallitzin, thus casting aside forever the incognito identity of Father Augustine Smith.

The “Russian” Prince - Priest was actually of royal Lithuanian descent,a ccording to Stasys Maziliaukas, author of Pioneer Prince In The U.S.A.:  An Historical Account Of Prince Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin And His Eminent Relatives.  Father Gallitzin’s coat of arms, bearing the ancient emblem of a knight with a raised sword, mounted on a white horse upon a red field, marks him out as a descendant of King Gediminas of Lithuania .

Gediminas reigned from 1316 until 1341 from the capital city of Vilnius .  A great statesman, Gediminas, according to Maziliaukus “consolidated his many annexed duchies and republics of different nationalities into one harmonious states.”

Among the King’s seven sons was Prince Norimantas, created Duke of Grand Novgorod (near present day Saint Petersburg ), by his father.  Norimantas was the direct of ancestor of Prince Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin.  Norimantas’s domain was later divided among his sons, including Patrikis, the next direct ancestor of the Gallitzin line.  Patrikis became Duke of Starodub, which is east of the River Dnieper and south of Moscow .

The ‘Russian” Gallitzin family originated by the marriage in 1408 of Prince George of Starodub, a descendant of Patrikis, to Maria, daughter of Grand Duke Vasili I of Moscow.  Maria was herself a descendant of King Gediminas, thus consolidating the Lithuanian connection.

Through Princess Maria, Father Gallitzin is a direct descendant of Vytautus, who is 1398 was recognized as King of Lithuania, after liberating the country from the rule of his cousin, King Jogaila of Poland and Lithuania .

Another descendant of King Gediminas was King Casimir IV who would rule both Poland and Lithuania .  One of his sons became Saint Casimir, patron saint of Lithuania .  King Casimir IV’s daughter, Sophia, married Frederick of Brandenburg.  All of the present European royal families descend from this marriage, making Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin a distant cousin of Queen Elizabeth II of England, Queen Margarethe II of Denmark, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, King Harald V of Norway, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, King Albert II of Belgium, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Prince Hans Adam of Lichtenstein and Prince Albert II of Monaco.

The nickname “Golitz” (from “Golitza”) means a gauntlet, and the name became synomous with military bravery.  The Prince’s family eventually adopted the surname “Golitsyn” which the father of Father Demetrius Gallitzin changed to the present, westernized spelling, when he became Ambassador to Paris .

Father Gallitzin ultimately descends from Prince Andrey Golitsyn, brother of a prince who was offered the Russian imperial throne in 1584.  This branc of the family tree became known as the Great Golitsyns, because of the number of statesmen, diplomats and military leaders they sired.




Part Eleven


Although accounts of Father Gallitzin’s holiness are many, there are few descriptions of his personal appearance.  During his lifetime, it was taken for granted that he was a Prince in every way.  He never had his portrait painted; there is no authentic likeness of him in existence.

In 1834, Father Peter Henry Lemcke came to the mountain as an assistant to Father Gallitzin.  In his 1861 book Life Of Gallitzin, Lemcke describes their first meeting:  himself on horseback and the Prince - Priest seated in a low sled, wearing an overcoat and a shoulder cape and “a peasant’s hat.”

The best description of Gallitzin’s appearance was written by Sarah Brownson in her 1873 work The Life And Works Of Reverend D.A. Gallitzin:

“Mitri was the very beau ideal of a stately young officer.  He was rather tall, being about five feet nine or ten inches high with that peculiar reticent, dignified high bred air which has the effect of the most imposing height.

“He had a slender figure and lithe yet compact figure, a fine clear complexion, not too fair for manliness, and the handsomest dark eyes that ever glanced love or anger from the shadow of a military cap.  Masses of shining black hair clustered around a delicately formed, haughtily set head.  A long, large nose gave character, force and dignity to his countenance.

The only thing wrong with Brownson’s description is that she had never set eyes on the hero she worshipped!  The Mitri she described was largely a figure of her imagination.  But eyewitnesses to the Prince’s ministry did leave their impressions of his appearance.

Father James Stillinger visited the Prince soon after his own ordination.  He wrote “In 1831 I went to see Father Gallitzin for the first time.  On entering the hall he met me, and took my hand with both of his, so beautifully formed.

“He looked intently into my face with his dark hazel eyes, quick and penetrating.  His countenance beamed with benevolence and kindness.  His address was graceful, bland, fatherly and accomplished, as at once to indicate the nobleman and the self - sacrificing convert and missionary.”

Another young, newly - ordained priest, Father James Bradley, wrote of his first meeting with Gallitzin, “He received me then and always with true paternal kindness . . . His manner was dignified, his language clear and impressive.  His trumpet voice could be heard at a great distance, although he had accidentally lost all his teeth.”

Daniel Sargent, author of the Gallitzin biography Mitri writes “His tongue was brisk, even brusque, but it did not offend.  His witty retorts became the delight of the settlers.  They were his mark by which he was loved.”

In 1839 an attack of illness caused an outward change in Father Gallitzin.  Although his mind was clear, he lost some of his brusqueness.  Father Lemcke saw the change and wrote about it to a friend:  “When I first saw Gallitzin he was indeed very thin and his appearance was frail.  His voice was loud and sonorous.  His look was keen and determined.”

Lemcke continued that after 1839 “He began to walk stooped and his step became uncertain.  Occasionally, during his sermons, his voice would fail him, and his sermons passed over into soft weeping.  The whole parish wept with him.”

In another letter, Lemcke wrote “Regarding social life, I do not receive much from the aged and venerable Gallitzin.  I live 12 miles away from him.

“For 42 years he was thrown upon his own resources.  He is the noblest, purest and most godly man I have ever met.  He now enjoys undisturbed peace and the angel already looks out through his eyes.  I know he could at any time lie down and sleep away with a laughing countenance, like a tired child.”




Part Twelve


With the creation of every new Diocese in the United States , the name of Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin was put forward as a candidate for the episcopacy.  “The Reverend Prince would have adorned the mitre in any country or in any age,” wrote Father Thomas Heyden in his Memoir (1869).

After the death of Bishop Michael Egan O.F.M. in 1814, the See of Philadelphia was vacant for six years.  It was impossible to find a priest willing to accept responsiblity for the troubled Dicoese.  When considering candidates for the office, Archbishop John Carroll forwarded the following judgment of Father Gallitzin:

“The Reverend Mister Gallitzin has for many years lived so far distant that I cannot speak with confidence of his present dispositions.  He has made sacrifices of worldly rank and performed actions of disinterested zeal.  His literary, and I presume, his theological requirements, are considerable.  A strong objection to his preferement is a great load of debt, incurred rashly through excellent and charitable purposes.”

Father Gallitzin received letters from friends in Europe urging him to return to the Rhineland and be made a Bishop.  One of the earliest proposals for his elevation in the United States came from his old friend Bishop John Baptist David who in 1816 wrote “Monsignor (Benedict Joseph) Flaget (Bishop of Bardstown KY) is to be transferred, while another Bishop, Monsignor Gallitzin, has been named for Kentucky.”  It seemed a foregone conclusion that he was already a Bishop.  Father Gallitzin was considered an able leader, and worthy to administer a Diocese.

On two occasions, Archbishop Louis DuBourg advanced Gallitzin’s name as eligible in 1815 for Bardstown, and in 1820 for Cincinnati .  In 1832, Bishop Henry Conwell named Father Gallitzin Vicar General of the Philadelphia Diocese, with jurisdiction over all of Western Pennsylvania .

A Michigan missionary, Father Gabriel Richard bequeathed his entire estate to the Prince - Priest, expecting that Father Gallitzin would become Bishop of Detroit:  “I hereby give and bequeath all my real and personal estate, lands, household goods, books, chattels, etc. of any kind or nature whatsoever of which I will be possessed of in the United States at the time of my death, to the Reverend Demetrius Gallitzin . . . elected Bishop of Detroit . . . to enable him to found the Bishopric of Detroit and a seminary for the instruction of his young clergymen.”

In 1827 when Archbishop Ambrose Marechal of Baltimore asked him if he would consider accepting the See of Detroit, Father Gallitzin wrote his reasons why he could not leave Loretto:  “If you knew the mission of Loretto, you would agree with me that it is one of the most important in the United States, and it would ruin it and ruin me to remove me from this mission. . . . Now, to form my establishment I have been to great expense . . . I have part of my fund in tanneries, etc., and it is impossible to draw them suddenly without runining many families.”

The rest of Gallitzin’s letter to the Archbishop gives evidence that his plans for his mountain town went beyond tanneries and grist mills, but envisioned it as the center of local Catholicism:

“Several years ago I formed a plan . . . to form a Diocese for the western part of Pennsylvania .   What a consolation for me if I might before I die see this plan carried out, and Loretto made an Episcopal See, where the Bishop, by means of the lands attached to the Bishopric, which are very fertile, would be independent, and where, with very little expense, could be erected a college, a seminary, and all that is required for an Episcopal establishment. . . . If Your Grace would look over the map of Pennsylvania , the chains of mountains that traverse the state, the great distances . . . Your Grace would be of my opinion.”




Part Thirteen


In 1839, Father Gallitzin made the acquaintance of a young physician, Aristide Rodrigue, a Frenchman, practicing medicine in Ebensburg.  Dr. Rodrigue was to care for the Prince - Priest during the last year of his life.

Father Gallitzin was a man grown old before his time.  In the summer prior to his death, Father Lemcke wrote of Gallitzin “he began to walk stooped and his step became uncertain.”  Gallitzin himself commented on his failing health to his spiritual son, Father Thomas Heyden:

“The account you have had of my illness was not founded in fact.  What may have given rise to it is that I was for one Sunday only prevented from appearing at the holy altar, by pains in the lower joints, which perhaps alarmed some of those who being in the habit of seeing me there every Sunday concluded I must be very ill.  In Chambersburg they had me dead and buried.”

Father Gallitzin was increasingly lame after falling from his horse.  Excruciating pain afflicted him, but he refused to listen to Dr. Rodrigue’s advice that he should rest.  Throughout the winter of 1839 - 1840 the zealous missionary continued to make sick calls throughout the mission territory, and to travel on a round of errands to clear his remaining debts.  Consulting Dr. Rodrigue at the end of Lent, Gallitzin promised to take time for bed rest following Easter.

Easter Sunday 1840 was the last time Father Gallitzin would celebrate Mass at Saint Michael Church in Loretto.  He spent the early morning of the feast in the confessional, and by 10:00 a.m. was so exhausted that he could manage to celebrate only a Low Mass.  His homily, an exhortation on the resurrection of Jesus, were the last words his congregation would hear from him.

On Easter Monday morning, Father Gallitzin was unable to rise from bed.  Word of his illness began to spread by word of mouth, and the news was sent to Father Heyden that “our dear and much revered Doctor Gallitzin is fast approaching his last end.”

On Easter Saturday the Prince - Priest drafted a new will in which he bequeathed to the Bishop of Philadelphia his church, farm, lands “and all appurtenances thereunto belonging” including six lots on which to build a new church.  The rest of Father Gallitzin’s estate consisted of five horses, three cows, a two - horse wagon, two violins, 574 books, several sleds and some articles of furniture.

This remainder he left in trust to his executors to divide in four units:  1) for the relief of poor widows and orphans; 2) for Masses to be said for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed; 3) for the erection of the new church; and 4) for disbursement to Suzannah Christy, Sarah Durbin, Ann Storm and Francis and Hugh McConnell, “all of whom were raised by me.”

When Father Lemcke arrived at the dying man’s bedside, Gallitzin said to him “My will is made.  I trust that so far as I am concerned, I can depart in peace and that no one will lose anything through me, but there may be even something left over.  Now I wish above all to receive the last Sacraments, and then do with me what you like.”

Immediately after midnight , Father Lemcke celebrated Mass in Gallitzin’s room and gave the Prince - Priest Holy Communion.  Later that morning, Dr. Rodrigue operated on Gallitzin for a strangulated hernia; the patient remained alert throughout.

On May 4, Father Heyden, Gallitzin’s protege - - the first priestly vocation from Western Pennsylvania - - arrived to visit his mentor.  With Father Heyden’s arrival, Gallitzin seemed to be at peace and relieved from the worst of the pain.

The dying man now took leave of all who were close to him.  One by one the people of Loretto passed by his bedside for a final blessing.  One man, the town drunkard, was greeted with a raised finger and a shake of the Prince’s head.  The man fell to the floor in contrition, and was forgiven by Father Gallitzin, who regretting that he had no money to give to him said “Poor fellow, if it is still possible, do not forget him.”

On the evening of May 6, Father Heyden was reading the prayers for the dying when Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin died at 6:00 p.m.

    The Prince who had given away a fortune and a glittering future for the sake of the faith was buried near his church in an $8 coffin.