Sunday, May 6, 2012

Archbishop Martin John Spalding, the Baltimore Catechism, and Babe Ruth...

I had the opportunity to cover a Mass this morning for a brother priest at one of the most historic parishes in our Archdiocese: Holy Name of Mary parish in Calvary, KY. The historian in me was distracted all during the Mass thinking of the significance of this small parish in the Kentucky countryside.

It's the home parish of two bishops, John Lancaster Spalding and Martin John Spalding. John Lancaster would go on to be the first bishop of Peoria, Illinois, and be connected with a rather nefarious story involving the Caldwell family of Kentucky. The Caldwell sisters were big contributors to the newly founded Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. They are the namesakes of Caldwell Hall, where I studied canon law for the last three years.

Martin John Spalding succeeded Benedict Joseph Flaget to be the second bishop of Louisville. As bishop of Louisville (a See recently transferred from Bardstown, KY and the first inland diocese created in the USA) he defended the Catholic Church against the "Know Nothing" political party of the mid-nineteenth century. The "Know Nothings" incited the infamous "Bloody Monday Riots" which claimed the life of upwards of 100 German Catholic immigrants (several being murdered on the front steps of my soon-to-be parish St. Martin of Tours - a church whose patron was selected in honor of Bishop Spalding). Bishop Spalding spent upwards of a decade in Louisville - founding all sorts of institutions such as schools, pious and charitable organizations, and orphanages - before being named the fourth Archbishop of Baltimore. He invited the Xaverian Brothers (C.F.X.) to the USA, the same order that operates the high school I attended in Louisville. This order would found a school in Baltimore - St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys - where Babe Ruth would be discovered, the greatest baseball player of all time. Archbishop Spalding was influential in the founding of the American College in Louvain, Belgium, where thousands of American priests would study (and was recently closed last year). He was an influential participant in the Plenary Councils of Baltimore (origin of the "Baltimore Catechism"), an outspoken advocate of Catholic schools, founder of the St. Vincent DePaul Society aiding the poor, an influential participant in the First Vatican Council (advocating for the doctrine of papal infallibility), among other accomplishments. With all these things on my mind it was good that the preaching duties were handled by the deacon...

Driving to Calvary on a beautifully foggy Kentucky morning:

Historical marker commemorating Archbishop Martin John Spalding:

Marian grotto at the parish:

Holy Name of Mary Church: