What Has Made
Chicago Catholicism Distinctive?
21st Century Perspective
What Has Made
Chicago Catholicism Distinctive?
21st Century Perspective
“Saint Philomena, pray for me!”
Kathleen Sprows Cummings of Norte Dame University came to speak to us about her new book concerning saints, and the race to find the first American born to be canonized (which of course is Elizabeth Ann Seton mentioned in a previous blog post).
Utilizing this list of female saints, I came across one that interested me a lot. Maybe it was due to her young age, or just because she had so much attributed to her, but I chose to do this blog on St. Philomena pictured above, a young virgin martyr, whose remains were discovered in 1802 in the Catacombs of Priscilla. Philomena is said to have refused the advances of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and had been brutalized various times before being beheaded in 304 A.D/C.E. She’s the patron saint of infants, babies, and youth. Beside her bones within her tomb was a small vial containing some of her blood. An inscription inside read “Peace be with thee, Philomena”, along with drawings of 2 anchors, 3 arrows and a palm. She has a church here in Chicago as well.
“For the greater glory of God (A.M.D.G)”
I got a chance to check out this course catalog from 1879-1880, about 10 years after St. Ignatius College’s (the predecessor to Loyola University) conception. Check out Dan’s coverage of the other catalog we used, and the other members of the seminar’s sources here. A general break down is as follows…
*.75 is the lowest I could see
(Will add bold and italics to make the list easier to read later on!)
“John, pay attention.“
You and the two other John’s in your class raise their heads in confusion. You’re not sure if your teacher, an older Irish Nun, is speaking to you or one of the others. It’s winter time and the classroom is cool, and packed. Younger children and young men sit together, while she drills you all on math, reading, writing, and the Catholic way. You worry about the winter though, staring out the window. Your mother and father work as a housekeeper and shoemaker respectively, and you have three other siblings. While your tuition is reduced compared to the others at $50.00 a month, you know they can’t afford to put you through school for several more months. That means less time to absorb anything, more time spent locked away at home or working odd jobs with your Father… and the winter storms of Chicago are setting in.
“Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.” – Jimmy Hendrix
Now, I’m not sure how much BrainyQuote is to be believed when it comes to the validity of these quotes being said by the supposed author, but I do believe it beautifully illustrates what I’m trying to get at in this post about music’s role in shaping tradition, and therefore, broader culture.
I’m sad that I wasn’t able to see Mick Moloney and Jimmy Keane’s performance last Thursday. I am happy to report that I didn’t blow off the questions their show being put into the seminar raises, however. What is the role of music in history? Why is it important to examine?
At its heart, music is storytelling at it’s finest. One doesn’t need to know the ins-n-outs of chord progression to know if something moves them in a certain way. Music plays a significant role in shaping a nations when it comes to national songs and celebrations of wars, it leaves a lasting memory of the past, and can reflect the concerns of an age, the zeitgeist to use unnecessary German terms.
Cultural scripts are the ways in which a society or and a local community decides what they will project onto the world, and how they will make those in their community follow suit. Music, why it is produced, by who, and for what purpose is one of the most wide-spread cultural scripts out there. Much like the saying “you are what you eat”, what you listen to informs the ideas you shape from a very young age.
While the source and context impacts how one understands a song in question (if it’s lyrics versus an audio version, how the musician performs it, if it was written during or for a certain period in history, and so on), music offers a fairly reliable example of a larger historical moment.
Here are some stats to start off with:
“To the Catholic sisterhoods more than any other human agency is due the upbuilding of Chicago’s system of Catholic parochial schools to its present splendid development” (Garraghan, pg. 202).
Above is a digital map and a quote pertaining to the assignment we were given by our Professor over fall break. My group and I were tasked with mapping eleven (11) schools in Chicago, drawing on Gilbert J. Garraghan’s book The Catholic Church In Chicago 1673-1871. Susie and Claire covered what I didn’t in my map above. I had a lot of trouble with this assignment I will say!
For example, in the reading Garraghan offered no end dates for the four schools I covered called St. Aloysius School, St. Stanislaus School, Christian Brothers Academy, and St. Ignatius College, the last of which is the precursor to Loyola University Chicago! Another big issue was getting correct directions. West Twelfth Street (where Garraghan says St Ignatius was founded) no longer exists, and has become Roosevelt Road from a quick google search on my part. Others, however, were harder to discern as he states St. Stanislaus was built were Sacred Heart was founded, so I had to back track in the text.
Past my confusion, I did learn a lot about who ran these schools, and how these school came about. These institutions were mostly founded by woman religious (with the help of male church leaders), which is often lost in the narrative itself as it focuses on Catholic priests as the pillars of the faith. Also, it revealed many ways I can imagine the past, past physical text, as these visual representations and anecdotes about what happened back then help me to better understand the subject we’re studying in a more fluid sense. Rather than fixed images, these schools changed with the times, got absorbed, or disappeared altogether. However, they did leave a mark on the thousands of children, teachers, and Catholics it serviced and or was run by.
St. Peter in Chains Cathedral seen above in the featured image section, is located in Cincinnati, Ohio. I chose this location and one of it’s various Catholic institutions because it use to be a boom town, and one of the many centers of the New West after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. While the Jeffersonian vision of an agrarian nation did not stand the test of time (for the most part even in rural sections of the Midwest), this new frontier was seen as a battle ground in more ways than one, especially when it came to spreading the (Protestant) Christian message in the face of mass Catholic integration (new European Catholics, Mexicans, Native Tribes, etc.), and pre-colonization by Catholic nations such as Spain in those areas. So, that begs the question, what were people saying about Catholics back then?
I used LUC’s library’s digitized newspaper collection stretching from 1690 to the present to find out…kind of. The advent of the internet and digital archival work make this useful source of primary sources much easier to browse than years before. I’m happy to be able to access such information so easily, with a bit of a learning curve, then to have to dig up this kind of stuff manually which scholars would have had to do years ago. Some of the articles were smudged or harder to read, and though we had the constraint of observing peoples’ thoughts about Catholics before the outbreak of the Civil War (Pre-1860’s), it was still a lot of material to shift through.
I framed my search around the concept of “Manifest Destiny”, first purposed around the period beginning in the 1840’s-1850’s (though Manifest Destiny as a concept and driving American principle can arguably be seen as established in American policy then, and used for God ordained expansionism and exceptionalism ever since). The three key terms I utilized in my search were “Catholic Church” (19953 hits in total)”, “Papist” (1251 hits in total), and “Romanist” (85 hits in total), two of which I borrowed from our reading Catholicism And The Shaping Of Nineteenth-Century America by Jon Gjerde.
Working my way backwards in reverse chronological order, I investigated a number of newspapers within my three set parameters (Between 1840-1850, using one of the three keywords, and printed by or aimed at an American audience), and finally chose three to illustrate my findings. I chose these three articles keeping in mind two of the terms (Romanist and Papist) had overwhelming negative things, while Catholic Church had the most hits the most variety of sources because it is a more “neutral term”. These views were more in line with the readings we did but, with more time, especially using the more neutral term “Catholic Church”, I’m sure more positive/neutral results could have been found.
Some interesting research questions I thought about were as follows…
“How did Catholics respond to the rise of Nativism and anti-Catholic practices throughout this period? Did the responds differ in the hierarchy compared to the laity? Did it impact practice at all?”
“What was the reputation of the newspaper in its’ time? What influence did it have on what it reported, who its’ main audience was, and how they presented the Catholic Church?”
“Do Catholics from diverse ethnic and geographical locations receive the same stereotypes or, do these factors play a role in them?”
While this search was by no means all inclusive of the time periods’ feelings towards Catholic Americans and or the Church in general (due to the specific keywords I used, few sources, etc.), it was a very new and fun experience for me! Though my time was limited, and my knowledge limited, I am happy that I got to mess around with this source of information, which will hopefully help me later on as we start to unpack Catholic immigration in Chicago during this period of early American Catholic history, through their eyes for once hopefully!
Though I had to dip in for the last moments of her presentation, I was happy to catch the few minutes I could last Thursday of Dr. Catherine O’Donnell’s (Associate Professor of History at Arizona State) talk about her up and coming biography of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, or Elizabeth Seton for short. Here’s a quick history before I get into my topic of woman religious, especially in a historical context.
Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born in 1774 in New York City, two years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. At age 18, she married William Seton. He died nine years later, leaving her with five children to raise alone.
In 1805, Elizabeth converted to Catholicism and was shunned by her family. Soon after, she moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland, and opened a boarding school for girls to support herself and her children.
In 1809 Elizabeth took religious vows and founded the Sisters of Charity, the first religious community in the United States.
She was canonized a saint–the first native-born American saint–in 1975 by Pope Paul VI.
The unabridged version can be found here. With that in mind, I come to her story with two very big obstacles when it comes to understanding why she did what she did in her time—I am not catholic so don’t regard her as a Saint, and my first exposure to her as a living person was through letters (via the chapter of Dr. O’Donnell’s work I was privileged enough to read) many years separated between myself and her.
These two facts, facts that might be shared by other readers of this biography once it hits the press to a broader audience, means that there are many challenges when it comes to constructing a history of this woman. One doesn’t want to unfairly bias her in the eyes of the reader, while also telling a truthful account that can be up for interpretation, not under the veil of dogma from the church, seeing as she is a saint.
These past two weeks in the Ramonat seminar, we’ve focused on the European origin story of the various Catholic groups we are going to study, that end up in Chicago. Our main groups have been the Italians and the story of their eventual unification into the peninsula we know today, and that of the Irish pre- and post- potato famine.
What has struck me about the whole thing has largely been the similarities in the stories of these internal refugees or and political factions within their home country, who then look outward and within for some semblance of a more universal community.
While I could go into the readings and the trip we took last week (all of which can be found on the main blog for our cohort), Professor Roberts has challenged us to look at a mediums beyond the written word, and to focus on the Irish in particular.
Mick Moloney, a singer and professor, will be visiting us later in the month for the beginning of our seminar series. While I sadly can’t attend, I was happy to hear his rendition of a song around this period of mass immigration from Ireland entitled “The Green Fields of America”. Two lines stood out to me, but the first is a good lead way into a particular Irish practice, that feeds into the images I’ve chosen to study this week.
“For me mother is old and me father quite feeble…Oh, the tears down their cheeks in great drops they are rolling, To think I must die upon some foreign shore”
Thomas Hovenden’s Breaking Home Ties (1890), the image for this post, features a young man seemingly being sent away from his home. He’s dressed very nicely, young and fresh faced if not ghostly pale, while his family and pet surround him in muted colors with forlorn faces. While eclipsing the time period of focus, it hearkens back to a practice called the wake in which Irish families celebrated the lose of their sons to the so-called “green fields of America”. Much like the song lyric above evokes a generational split, one in which the young leave the older generation grieves, so too does this painting speak to that reality.
Patrick Fitzgerald and Brian Lambkin in their book Migration in Irish History, 1607-2007 chart out the three-stage process of Irish immigration (Leaving, Crossing, and Arriving), and of particular interest the scenes of migration between 1845-1850 onward, pre- and post famine. One practice the stood out before the journey was that of the wake. N.A. Woods, An Irish Wake (1819) below shows the chaotic scene of what we usually associate with a wake—death. The scene is in blacks, whites, and grays. The moonlight shines in as people pour in, drunk, angry, sobbing, praying, as the dead man lays in white with a heavy cross. The wake was unique to Ireland where “…even in southern Italy and southern Spain which were the only other regions of Europe where traces of pre-Christian funeral customs survived into the twentieth century” (Fitzgerald and Lambkin 17).