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 - March 31, 2008

    Causes of beatification and canonization follow a careful series of norms and regulations mandated by successive Popes.  Betty Seymour, one of the postulators for the Cause of the Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, has provided an outline of the procedures involved in his Cause in order to acquaint the people of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese with the procedures now in place and being followed regarding Father Gallitzin.

The research involved with the Sainthood Cause for the Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin and carried on by the postulators, and the historical and theological commissions is extensive, time consuming and labor intensive.  All of the writings of Father Gallitzin must be collected, documented and studied.  Theologically it must be determined that everything written by the Servant of God is in complete conformity with Church doctrine.  Father Gallitzin's writings will provide a clear understanding of his virtues and his growth in sanctity.  Historically, everything will be viewed from the times in which they were written.  This is the job of the experts in the history of Father Gallitzin's era.

The process of collecting documents began with an official diocesan letter to 30 archival centers, libraries, religious institutions and museums in the United States and Europe.  Visits were made to surrounding county courthouses for documents on legal transactions involving Father Gallitzin.  In addition to serving as a pastor and missionary circuit priest, Father Gallitzin was also a land broker, an official lawyer (representing his parishioners in court) and financial operative, borrowing from institutions for himself and others.  Such activities involved him in travel beyond his mission territory to Baltimore, Washington, Lancaster and Philadelphia.

The Prince-Priest wrote many letters to Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore, his brothers priests, wealthy individuals (including Charles Carroll, the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence), bankers, newspapers, etc., and received an extensive correspondence in return.  Beginning in 1815 and continuing through 1839 he wrote several booklets of apologetic literature, including his best know work, Defence (sic) Of Catholic Principals.  These writings are extremely valuable to the collection as they reveal Father Gallitzin's expansive knowledge of scripture, and his thorough understanding of Catholic doctrine.

A good response has followed the request for archival material on Father Gallitzin.  As predicted, the Associated Archives in Baltimore contained a wealth of original letters and documents, because Father Gallitzin often wrote to Bishop Carroll reporting the status of his mission territory.  Also preserving Gallitzin material were the archives of Mount Saint Mary's University, Emmitsburg MD; Saint Vincent Archabbey and College, Latrobe; Saint Francis University, Loretto; Mount Galltizin Academy, Baden; Mount Aloysius, Cresson; Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic Regional Community, Dallas; Georgetown University and the University of Notre Dame.  The archives of neighboring Dioceses - Erie, Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg - and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, also responded with material.  The Eric Diocese claims Father Gallitzin as their first vicar general, and produced a fine pamphlet on his life.

"The most surprising response to our letter came from an archival museum housing letters/documents of a prominent family in Munster, Germany," said Mrs. Seymour.

"I first became aware of these letters through a lovely lady from near Muster, Elisabeth Lammers, who became my pen pal in 1999.  I was introduced to her via air mail, through Diana Gresley of the Nicktown/Spangler area," Mrs. Seymour explained.

Mr. Gresley's daughter established connections in Germany while stationed there with the Air Force.  Elisabeth Lammers and her husband, Wolfgang, local historians, often spoke of Father Gallitzin's mother, Princess Amalia, who had been an outstanding member of the "Munster Circle" from the late 1700s until her death in 1806.  Said Mrs. Seymour, "Elisabeth and Wolfgang were hoping to get information on Amalia's son and his ministry in our country."

(See the April 14, 2009 issue of The Catholic Register for the conclusion of Mrs. Seymour's account of how the Munster archives have yielded important Gallitzin material.)