Pioneer Priests and Makeshift Altars

A History of Catholicism in the Thirteen Colonies

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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 that despite almost two centuries of ever-more-intense religious persecutions and even harsher legal prohibitions, American Catholics in the colonies simply refused to abandon the Catholic Faith.

This is an 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 driving Catholicism out of America. Among other things, you’ll learn:

  • The tale of The Ark and The Dove that carried the first settlers to Maryland.
  • The surprisingly harsh anti-Catholic sentiments of most of the Founding Fathers.
  • 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 years in which, throughout the colonies, Catholics became an endangered species.
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
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
  • Pages: 272
  • Format(s): Paperback, eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-68278-032-9
  • Product Code: Q80329
  • Availability: In Stock
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This is an in-depth and accurate account of the often misunderstood and intolerant attitude toward religious beliefs and practices as well as the human condition and it's faults.
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Great history review of the early Catholics (mostly from England) in the original thirteen colonies. I was disappointed to learn that some of the Maryland settlers ended up owning slaves, even against the teachings and admonishments of Popes and the Church. I thought the book could have touched on that more. Likewise the French Catholics that were in the old French territories like Michigan etc. were not covered. But I do understand that some of these other territories were not the focus which was the early English colonies. I did like the first chapters the covered the Reformation and the differences between Luther and Calvin and how their teachings and views filtered over to the New World. I hope Fr. Connor does another book with the early French Catholic settlers in places that ended up in English hands such as Detroit Michigan which still has it's founding Church, St. Anne as a functioning parish.
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A history I never learned in school.
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book proves an historical foundation of the Catholic Church in the United States and for the battle we still fight in this country today as soldiers of Christ.
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Interesting subject. Good read!
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