Re: First German Immigrants in America/Philadelphia

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Posted by Goody Sandy on April 16, 2000 at 16:05:47:

In Reply to: Re: First German Immigrants in America/Philadelphia posted by Bill R on April 16, 2000 at 10:35:07:

: : : In the American colonies from 1704 until the
: : : Revolution, public Catholic churches were forbidden. In fact, for about one year services even in homes
: : : were prohibited by the penal laws legislated against Catholics. The accession of Queen Anne did see
: : : domestic worship permitted for Catholic colonists. The few priests in English America at that time would
: : : then either say Mass in their own house chapel or ride about on circuit to various "Mass- houses."

: : : There was, however, a unique exception to the penal laws--old Saint Joseph's Church in Philadelphia.
: : : About 1733, Father Joseph Greatin opened a tiny permanent chapel near Fourth and Walnut Streets, the
: : : only open Catholic church in Great Britain or its American colonies. This was possible due to the
: : : tolerance of the Philadelphia Quakers who rebuffed persistent complaints. Saint Joseph's Church started
: : : with a few Irish, English, and German parishioners and grew to a congregation of 1,200 by the time of the
: : : American Revolution. In writing about the Acadians from Canada, Longfellow depicted Saint Joseph's:
: : : "Under the humble walls of the little Catholic churchyard,/In the heart of the city they lie, unknown and
: : : unnoticed."

: : : During the French and Indian War, strong pressure was put upon the city fathers to close the church.
: : : This intensified when news was heard of General Braddock's defeat in 1755. The Catholics were said to
: : : be conspiring with their French coreligionists. Still, the Quakers refused to deny public worship to their
: : : Catholic fellow citizens. In fact, the structure of Saint Joseph's was enlarged in 1757. And to this day the
: : : church remains open.

: : : Maryland had its counterpart to Philadelphia in an illegal church built in 1731 at Newtown in Saint
: : : Mary's County. Saint Francis Xavier Church was built of wood to somewhat resemble a tobacco barn. It
: : : is safe to speculate that neighbors were not unaware of its true purpose. As the Revolution neared and
: : : the French were now allies, a brick front providing a vestibule and choir loft was added. Later a brick
: : : sacristy and small belfry announced that it was indeed a church. Saint Francis Xavier is presently the
: : : oldest Catholic church structure still standing in what were the British colonies.

: : : --Reverend Paul Liston

: : Hi Elaine:

: : Thanks for the interesting post about the Catholic Church.

: : Resistance to the Catholic Church in the colonies during the 18th century is understandable considering the influx of immigrants fleeing the religious genocide in Europe during this time period, and that the Catholic Church was one of the organizations that persecuted those in Europe with non-main stream religious beliefs.

: : Best wishes,
: : Goody Sandy

: Goody S,

: There was that which you said, but also maybe just as importantly the early colonies were chartered and settled mostly by immigrants from the several countries which had no love for the most Catholic countries of France and Spain or of the Pope for that matter......England, Holland and Scotland.

: There were, as Elaine has written, some tolerances of religious diversity or even encouragment of catholicism such as in Pennsylvania and Maryland. However, I suspect that the more distant the settlement from the seat of these tolerances, the less acceptance would have been experienced.

: Bill R

Hi Bill R:

My post wasn't meant to imply that this was the one and only reason or even the most important reason for the intolerance of Catholicism in the colonies. There were undoubtedly a number of factors including the one you mentioned. Thanks for your post.

Best wishes,
Goody Sandy

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