Ceremony is latest step in
sainthood push for Prince Gallitzin
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
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.”
ceremony drew a large crowd, with every pew filled by
, 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
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
’s Congregation for Saints.
Adamec said he continues to seek information on Gallitzin or evidence of
Eight saints have been canonized for their good works in
• Isaac Jogues, 1600s, a missionary to
and the first Catholic priest to come to
. Canonized in 1930.
• Rene Goupil, 1607-42, a missionary to
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
• John Neumann, 1811-60, a missionary and bishop of
, traveled mountain roads to administer confirmation to a single child.
Canonized in 1977.
• Rose Duschesne, 1769-1852, a missionary who ministered to Native Americans
. 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
• Anne-Therese Guerin, 1798-1856, known as “Mother Theodore” and
foundress of St. Mary-of-the-Woods diocese in
. Canonized in 2006.