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Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin

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GALLITZIN, Demetrius Augustine, clergyman, born in the Hague, Holland, 22 December 1770, died in Loretto, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, 6 May, 1841. His father was Russian ambassador to Holland. The Gallitzin family was one of the oldest and noblest in Russia, and had always exercised a great and sometimes a controlling influence in the affairs of that country. The mother of the young prince was a daughter of Field-Marshal Count yon Schmettau, one of the favorite generals of Frederick the Great. Both father and mother were admirers of Voltaire and Diderot, and their son was brought up without religious training.

 

In 1786 the princess, after a severe illness, returned to the Roman Catholic Church, of which she had once been a member. A year afterward Demetrius also became a Christian, taking the name of Augustine on his conversion. He served as aide-de-camp to the Austrian general, Van Lilien, in 1792, in the first campaign against France. Before its close he was dismissed, the Austrian government having decided to discharge foreign officers.

 

His parents now wished him to travel, and the unsettled state of the continent determined them to send Demetrius to the United States. The Reverend Felix Brosius was appointed his tutor. To avoid the inconvenience of rank, he took the name of Augustine Sehmettau, which was afterward Americanized into Smith, and was borne by him for some time after his ordination. Supplied with letters of introduction from the prince-bishops of Hildesheim and Paderborn to Bishop Carroll, to whom his mother confided him, he sailed from Rotterdam, 18 August, 1792.

 

He arrived in Baltimore on 28 October, shortly afterward expressed a wish to become a priest, and entered the seminary of St. Sulpice, Baltimore, with this intention. Both his parents were dissatisfied with his choice, and his father, who had procured him a commission in the Russian army, begged him to come home, saying that his becoming a priest would of itself prevent his succession to the family inheritance.

 

The young prince, however, persevered, and was ordained on 18 March, 1795. He was the second priest, ordained in the United States, and the first who received holy orders in this country, as the Reverend Theodore Bazin had been made deacon in France before coming to America. Desiring to remain in the seminary, Father Gallitzin, or Father Smith, as he was then called, became a member of the order of Sulpicians. But Bishop Carroll, with a view to recruiting his health, sent him to the mission at Port Tobacco. Finding that he was not improving, the bishop directed him to go to the extensive mission of which Conewago was the centre, and at which his friend, Father Brosius, then was.

 

His reply to the bishop was of such a character as to call forth a severe reprimand and a summons to Baltimore. Here he was placed in charge of all the German Catholics of the City. In 1796 he entered on the Conewago mission, residing in Taneytown, and visiting several places in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The zeal of the young priest was not always according to prudence. His too great haste to correct abuses, and the complaints made of his arbitrary measures, called forth a second letter of admonition from Bishop Carroll in 1798.

 

In 1799 the Roman Catholics of Maguire's settlement petitioned the bishop for a resident pastor. Father Gallitzin was appointed, and at once set about the work of establishing a Roman Catholic colony. The district he selected for this purpose was one of the wildest and most uncultivated of the Alleghanies, in what is now Cambria County, Pennsylvania. It contained hardly a dozen Roman Catholic families. In 1800 he had a Church built of pine logs, the only one between Lancaster and St. Louis. He bought more than 20,000 acres, and invited settlers, supplying them with homes on easy terms, and waiting until such time as they would be able to pay for them. But his expectation of realizing from his inherited estates made him incur obligations, which for a long time were a source of humiliation and embarrassment.

 

His father died in 1803, and his relatives in Russia immediately took possession of the estates. It was thought by his mother that his presence in Russia would be advantageous to his interests, but no consideration could prevail on him to leave the settlement he had founded. By her advice he appointed three noblemen his agents, with full power of attorney to bring suit against his relatives, while she, in the event of failure, took steps to secure the property for herself, through her contract of marriage.

 

He built a village, which he named Loretto, in 1803, on his own land. It is situated about four miles northwest of Cresson station, on the Pennsylvania railroad, and at the time of his death had a population of 150. He used his influence to have it made the capital of Cambria County when the latter was laid out, but without success, and, as he was the agent for several firms in Philadelphia and other large cities for the sale of lands in western Pennsylvania, the formation of the new County only multiplied his business and increased his embarrassments.

 

Up to the death of his mother in 1806 he had received remittances from her regularly. Although the emperor of Russia decided in 1808 that, having become a Roman Catholic priest, he could inherit no part of his father's property, his sister, the Princess Maria, continued for some time to send him large sums, which he employed in meeting his engagements, but on her marriage with the penniless Prince of Salm this resource also failed.

 

Meanwhile his colony began to branch out and lay the foundation of other congregations at Ebensburg, Carrolltown, St. Augustine, Wilmore, Summitville, and several other parts of Pennsylvania, and as, owing to the scarcity of priests, he could not obtain an assistant, his labors were unceasing.

 

In 1809 he passed from the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Baltimore to that of the newly appointed bishop of Philadelphia. His real name also had become generally known, and as he had been naturalized as Augustine Smith, the legislature, on his petition, gave him the right to resume that of Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, in 1811 he was visited by Bishop Egan of Philadelphia, and confirmation was administered for the first time in the part of the diocese of Pittsburg lying west of the Alleghenies.

 

The name of Father Gallitzin had now become famous, and he was spoken of for the see of Bardstown, Kentucky. He was actually nominated for that of Detroit, but probably refused the honor.

 

Although after 1817 he no longer received remittances from his relatives in Europe, his financial situation improved considerably in the years following. There still remained a valuable collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, which had been left by his mother in the hands of a trusty friend to be disposed of for his benefit. It was purchased by his old friend and school-mate, the king of the Netherlands. With the proceeds from this sale and some subscriptions from friends in Europe and the United States, he was enabled to free his colony from debt after expending $150,000 on its creation.

 

He was appointed vicar-general of the diocese of Philadelphia in 1821, and Bishop Conwell offered later to make him his coadjutor bishop, but the offer was declined. The appointment of Dr. F. P. Kenrick to be coadjutor was displeasing to Father Gallitzin, and he wrote a very plain but respectful letter to the new prelate on the subject. The action of the bishop in regard to certain irregularities in one or two congregations was so little in harmony with his ideas that he resigned his vicar-generalship.

 

The rest of his life was passed in the performance of duties of the most arduous and self-sacrificing character. In spite of a few harmless eccentricities and some errors of policy, the character of Father Gallitzin affords a fine type of zeal combined with tenderness of heart. "If he had possessed a heart of gold," said one who knew him well, "he would have given it to the unfortunate."

 

While engaged in duties that would have taxed the endurance of the most zealous clergyman, he found time to write works that are still popular among his co-religionists. They are "Defence of Catholic Principles in a Letter to a Protestant Clergyman " (1816);" Letter to a Protestant Friend on the Holy Scriptures" (Ebensburg, 1820); "Appeal to the Protestant Public "; and "Six Letters of Advice" (1834). There are several lives of Father Gallitzin, the best being "Leben und Wirken des Prinzen Demetrius August von Gallitzin," by the Rev. Henry Lemcke (Munster, 1861); "Memoir of the Life and Character of the Reverend Prince Demetrius A. de Gallitzin," by Very Rev. Thomas Hoyden; and " Life of Demetrius Augustin Gallitzin, Prince and Priest," by Sarah M. Brownson.

 

--His cousin, Princess Elizabeth, born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1795; died in St. Michael's, Louisiana, 8 December 1843, became a convert to the Roman Catholic faith at the age of twenty, and was received into the community of the Sacred Heart at Metz in 1826. In 1840 she was sent out as visitor of the houses of the Sacred Heart in the United States. She founded convent in New York and several schools throughout the United States, as well as a mission among the Pottawattamie Indians.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia by John Looby, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

 

GALLITZIN, Demetrius Augustine, clergy-mail, born in the Hague, Holland, 22 December 1770" died in Loretto, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, 6 May, 1841. His father was Russian ambassador to Holland. The Gallitzin family was one of the oldest and noblest in Russia, and had always exercised a great and sometimes a controlling influence in the affairs of that country. The mother of the young prince was a daughter of Field-Marshal Count yon Schmettau, one of the favorite generals of Frederick the Great. Both father and mother were admirers of Voltaire and Diderot, and their son was brought up without religious training. In 1786 the princess, after a severe illness, returned to the Roman Catholic Church, of which she had once been a member. A year afterward Demetrius also became a Christian, taking the name of Augustine on his conversion. He served as aide-de-camp to the Austrian general, Van Lilien, in 1792, in the first campaign against France. Before its close he was dismissed, the Austrian government having decided to discharge foreign officers. His parents now wished him to travel, and the unsettled state of the continent determined them to send Demetrius to the United States. The Reverend Felix Brosius was appointed his tutor. To avoid the inconvenience of rank, he took the name of Augustine Sehmettau, which was afterward Americanized into Smith, and was borne by him for some time after his ordination. Supplied with letters of introduction from the prince-bishops of Hildesheim and Paderborn to Bishop Carroll, to whom his mother confided him, he sailed from Rotterdam, 18 August, 1792. He arrived in Baltimore on 28 October, shortly afterward expressed a wish to become a priest, and entered the seminary of St. Sulpice, Baltimore, with this intention. Both his parents were dissatisfied with his choice, and his father, who had procured him a commission in the Russian army, begged him to come home, saying that his becoming a priest would of itself prevent his succession to the family inheritance. The young prince, however, persevered, and was ordained on 18 March, 1795. He was the second priest, ordained in the United States, and the first who received holy orders in this country, as the Reverend Theodore Bazin had been made deacon in France before coming to America. Desiring to remain in the seminary, Father Gallitzin, or Father Smith, as he was then called, became a member of the order of Sulpitians. But Bishop Carroll, with a view to recruiting his health, sent him to the mission at Port Tobacco. Finding that he was not improving, the bishop directed him to go to the extensive mission of which Conewago was the centre, and at which his friend, Father Brosius, then was. His reply to the bishop was of such a character as to call forth a severe reprimand and a summons to Baltimore. Here he was placed in charge of all the German Catholics of the City. In 1796 he entered on the Conewago mission, residing in Taneytown, and visiting several places in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The zeal of the young priest was not always according to prudence. His too great haste to correct abuses, and the complaints made of his arbitrary measures, called forth a second letter of admonition from Bishop Carroll in 1798. In 1799 the Roman Catholics of Maguire's settlement petitioned the bishop for a resident pastor. Father Gallitzin was appointed, and at once set about the work of establishing a Roman Catholic colony. The district he selected for this purpose was one of the wildest and most uncultivated of the Alleghanies, in what is now Cambria County, Pennsylvania. It contained hardly a dozen Roman Catholic families. In 1800 he had a Church built of pine logs, the only one between Lancaster and St. Louis. He bought more than 20,000 acres, and invited settlers, supplying them with homes on easy terms, and waiting until such time as they would be able to pay for them. But his expectation of realizing from his inherited estates made him incur obligations which for a long time were a source of humiliation and embarrassment. His father died in 1803, and his relatives in Russia immediately took possession of the estates. It was thought by his mother that his presence in Russia would be advantageous to his interests, but no consideration could prevail on him to leave the settlement he had founded. By her advice he appointed three noblemen his agents, with full power of attorney to bring suit against his relatives, while she, in the event of failure, took steps to secure the property for herself, through her contract of marriage. He built a village, which he named Loretto, in 1803, on his own land. It is situated about four miles northwest of Cresson station, on the Pennsylvania railroad, and at the time of his death had a population of 150. He used his influence to have it made the capital of Cambria County when the latter was laid out, but without success, and, as he was the agent for several firms in Philadelphia and other large cities for the sale of lands in western Pennsylvania, the formation of the new County only multiplied his business and increased his embarrassments. Up to the death of his mother in 1806 he had received remittances from her regularly. Although the emperor of Russia decided in 1808 that, having become a Roman Catholic priest, he could inherit no part of his father's property, his sister, the Princess Maria, continued for some time to send him large sums, which he employed in meeting his engagements, but on her marriage with the penniless Prince of Salm this resource also failed. Meanwhile his colony began to branch out and lay the foundation of other congregations at Ebensburg, Carrolltown, St. Augustine, Wilmore, Summitville, and several other parts of Pennsylvania, and as, owing to the scarcity of priests, he could not obtain an assistant, his labors were unceasing. In 1809 he passed from the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Baltimore to that of the newly appointed bishop of Philadelphia. His real name also had become generally known, and as he had been naturalized as Augustine Smith, the legislature, on his petition, gave him the right to resume that of Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, in 1811 he was visited by Bishop Egan. of Philadelphia, and confirmation was administered for the first time in the part of the diocese of Pittsburg lying west of the Alleghanies. The name of Father Gallitzin had now become famous, and he was spoken of for the see of Bardstown, Kentucky. He was actually nominated for that of Detroit, but probably refused the honor. Although after 1817 he no longer received remittances from his relatives in Europe, his financial situation improved considerably in the years following. There still remained a valuable collection of Greek and Roman antiquities which had been left by his mother in the hands of a trusty friend to be disposed of for his benefit. It was purchased by his old friend and school-mate, the king of the Netherlands. With the proceeds from this sale and some subscriptions from friends in Europe and the United States, he was enabled to free his colony from debt after expending $150,000 on its creation. He was appointed vicar-general of the diocese of Philadelphia in 1821, and Bishop Conwell offered later to make him his coadjutor bishop, but the offer was declined. The appointment of Dr. F. P. Kenrick to be coadjutor was displeasing to Father Gallitzin, and he wrote a very plain but respectful letter to the new prelate on the subject. The action of the bishop in regard to certain irregularities in one or two congregations was so little in harmony with his ideas that he resigned his vicar-generalship. The rest of his life was passed in the performance of duties of the most arduous and self-sacrificing character. In spite of a few harmless eccentricities and some errors of policy, the character of Father Gallitzin affords a fine type of zeal combined with tenderness of heart. "If he had possessed a heart of gold," said one who knew him well, "he would have given it to the unfortunate." While engaged in duties that would have taxed the endurance of the most zealous clergyman, he found time to write works that are still popular among his co-religionists. They are "Defence of Catholic Principles in a Letter to a Protestant Clergyman " (1816);" Letter to a Protestant Friend on the Holy Scriptures" (Ebensburg, 1820); "Appeal to the Protestant Public "; and "Six Letters of Advice" (1834). There are several lives of Father Gallitzin, the best being "Leben und Wirken des Prinzen Demetrius August in Gallitzin," by the Roy. Henry Lemcke (Munster, 1861); "Memoir of the Life and Character of the Reverend Prince Demetrius A. de Gallitzin," by Very Roy. Thomas Hoyden; and " Life of Demetrius Augustin Gallitzin, Prince and Priest," by Sarah M. Brownson.--His cousin, Princess Elizabeth, born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1795; died in St. Michael's, Louisiana, 8 December 1843, became a convert to the Roman Catholic faith at the age of twenty, and was received into the community of the Sacred Heart at Metz in 1826. In 1840 she was sent out as visitor of the houses of the Sacred Heart in the United States. She founded convent in New York and several schools throughout the United States, as well as a mission among the Pottawattamie Indians.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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