Cause for the Canonization of 

Servant of God 

Demetrius Gallitzin

"Apostle of the Alleghenies"




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March 11, 2007

The Tribune Democrat

Ceremony is latest step in sainthood push for Prince Gallitzin

By Susan Evans

LORETTO — Near the burial place of Prince Gallitzin, and in a 200-year-old church described by the bishop as the “spiritual cradle” of Catholicism in the region, the formal inquiry began Sunday on why Gallitzin should be canonized.

In what Bishop Joseph Adamec described as a “first-of-its-kind event” in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, and under the elegant triple-arched ceiling of the historic Basilica of St. Michael in Loretto, oaths were administered to those who will eventually present to the Vatican their case for Gallitzin to be granted sainthood.

It was another milepost in the 7-year-old effort, which has been spearheaded by local historians Frank and Betty Seymour of Loretto, and which already has resulted in Gallitzin’s elevation to the status of “Servant of God.”

The 3 p.m. ceremony drew a large crowd, with every pew filled by 2:30 , and many coming from other parishes.

“I have prayed, I have envisioned, and I have thought that it’s about time for this,” the bishop said.

He praised the Seymours and others, calling the canonization effort “a labor of love for the diocese, and for history.”

The son of a Russian prince who lived from 1770 to 1840, Demetrius Gallitzin gave up his wealthy heritage to bring Catholicism to this region.

“It is our belief that Fr. Gallitzin lived a life of heroic virtue and holiness – as one who had talked with saints and as one who had walked with the saints,” said literature distributed at the ceremony.

In 1815, Gallitzin himself wrote this about saints:

“They are landed already on the shores of eternal peace. We are yet tossed by the raging billows of a tempestuous sea. We stretch out our hands to them for help; we beg their intercession to obtain a safe landing.”

After Gallitzin’s death, his friend and fellow priest, Thomas Heyden, described him this way:

“He was born of princely parents; nursed in the lap of wealth and luxury. She laid before him all the temptations of earth – the goods of fortune, a princely inheritance, immense estates.”

By turning his back on such wealth to help others, Gallitzin showed himself to be “a man of God,” Heyden said.

“Had some persecutor asked him where were kept the treasures of the church, he could show where they were deposited by pointing to the crowds of poor whom he had fed, and clothed, and relieved from debt, and tell the tyrant, ‘these are the treasures of the church ... I gave it not to them. I gave it to God.’ ”

The pamphlet, which summarizes the foundation of the diocese argument for Gallitzin’s sainthood, also quotes biographer Sarah Brownson, who in 1873 referred to Gallitzin’s “saintly character.”

It also quotes Charles Schwab, who in 1899 said, “The memory of Prince Gallitzin and his noble work will endure for all time. He erected a monument more lasting than metal or granite in the hearts of his devoted followers.”

The next step in the long push for canonization will be to eventually forward the case for Gallitzin’s sainthood and other information to the Vatican ’s Congregation for Saints.

Adamec said he continues to seek information on Gallitzin or evidence of miraculous intervention.

Eight saints have been canonized for their good works in America :

• Isaac Jogues, 1600s, a missionary to Canada and the first Catholic priest to come to Manhattan Island . Canonized in 1930.

• Rene Goupil, 1607-42, a missionary to Canada and the United States with Jogues. Canonized in 1930.

• Frances Cabrini, 1850-1917, a missionary who helped Italian immigrants and founder of Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Canonized in 1946.

• Elizabeth Ann Baylen Seton, 1774-1821, founded the American Sisters of Charity, who care for the poor and sick. Canonized in 1974. The first American-born saint.

• John Neumann, 1811-60, a missionary and bishop of Philadelphia , traveled mountain roads to administer confirmation to a single child. Canonized in 1977.

• Rose Duschesne, 1769-1852, a missionary who ministered to Native Americans in the Midwest . Canonized in 1988.

• Katharine Drexel, 1858-1955, nicknamed “the millionaire nun” because she spent her inheritance to care for black and Native Americans. Canonized in 2000.

• Anne-Therese Guerin, 1798-1856, known as “Mother Theodore” and foundress of St. Mary-of-the-Woods diocese in Indiana . Canonized in 2006.

Also see articles from:

    The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown

    The Pittsburgh Post Gazette