Pioneer Priests and Makeshift Altars

A History of Catholicism in the Thirteen Colonies

Pioneer Priests and Makeshift Altars book cover
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About this item

In this comprehensive history, Fr. Charles Connor details the life of Catholics in the American Colonies. It’s a tale that begins with the flight of English Catholics to religious freedom in Maryland in 1634, and continues through the post-Revolutionary period, by which time the constitutions of all but four of the first 13 states contained harsh anti-Catholic provisions.

Catholic readers will be proud to learn from these pages that despite almost two centuries of ever-more-intense religious persecutions and even harsher legal prohibitions, American Catholics in the colonies simply refused not to be Catholic.

These pages show that from the Jesuit manor houses that planted the seeds of faith in Maryland to the solitary missionary priests who evangelized the New York regions, Catholics kept the faith . . . even unto death.

Pioneer Priests and Makeshift Altars is indispensable reading for souls interested in the deep roots of Catholicism in America, and in the holy courage of scores of Catholics who kept remorseless forces from snuffing their faith out.

Among other things, you’ll learn here:

  • Why Catholics left the old world for America: their reasons were often not religious
  • The tale of The Ark and The Dove that carried the first settlers to Maryland
  • The Puritan ascendancy that too soon outlawed Catholicism in Maryland
  • The sole Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence: Can you name him?
  • The surprisingly powerful anti-Catholic sentiments of most of the Founding Fathers
  • The friend of George Washington who became the first Bishop of Baltimore
  • The great Catholic post-Revolutionary War migration from Maryland to Kentucky
  • The cosmopolitan colony whose robust religious liberty was more favorable that Maryland to Catholicism
  • The Quaker/Catholic alliance that promoted both religions
  • The role of persecuted Catholics in the Revolutionary War
  • Why, in that War, many Catholics favored the anti-Catholic British
  • The French Jesuits who evangelized New York and its frontier areas, and the saints who were martyred there
  • The Iroquois maiden who converted and became a saint
  • The years in which, throughout the colonies, Catholics became an endangered species
  • Plus: much more to acquaint you with the proud heritage of Catholics in the earliest years of our nation!

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Editorial Reviews

Cardinal Timothy Dolan photo

"This is a work of impressive scope and historical insight."

Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Archdiocese of New York
Rev. Msgr. Andrew Baker, S.T.D. photo

"I highly recommend this refreshing and insightful story of the beginning of the Catholic Church in America."

Rev. Msgr. Andrew Baker, S.T.D.
Rector, Mount St. Mary's Seminary
Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. photo

"Father Charles Connor has written a wonderfully absorbing, skillful — in fact, an invaluable —  history of the Catholic experience in the early American colonies."

Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Philadelphia
Cardinal Donald Wuerl photo

"Father Connor unfolds the story of the Church in the early United States with erudition, skill, understanding and clarity."

Cardinal Donald Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington
Archbishop Bernard Anthony Hebda photo

"A natural storyteller, Fr. Connor brings to life an important period of American Church history in a way that continues to shed light on the ecclesial realities of the 21st century."

Archbishop Bernard Anthony Hebda
Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Product Details

  • Pages: 272
  • Format(s): Paperback, eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-68278-032-9
  • Product Code: Q80329
  • Availability: In Stock

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