Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Russian Prince in Pennsylvania

Prince Demetrius Gallitzin, priest and missionary. From Nobility:
Almost from his infancy the young prince was subjected to rigid discipline, and his intellectual faculties, trained by the best masters of the age, reached their fullest development. When about seventeen he became a sincere Catholic, and to please his mother, whose birth (1748), marriage (1768), and First Holy Communion (1786) occurred on 28 August, the feast of St. Augustine, assumed at confirmation that name, and thereafter wrote his name Demetrius Augustine. After finishing his education he was appointed aide-de-camp to the Austrian General von Lillien, but as there was no opportunity for him to continue a military career his parents resolved that he should spend two years in traveling through America, the West Indies, and other foreign lands. Provided with letters of introduction to Bishop Carroll of Baltimore, and accompanied by his tutor, Father Brosius, afterwards a prominent missionary in the United States, he embarked at Rotterdam, Holland, 18 August, 1792, and landed in Baltimore, 28 October. To avoid the inconvenience and expense of travelling as a Russian prince, he assumed the name of Schmet, or Smith, and for many years was known in the United States as Augustine Smith. Soon after arriving at Baltimore, he was deeply impressed with the needs of the Church in America. He resolved to devote his fortune and life to the salvation of souls in the country of his adoption. Despite the objections of his relatives and friends in Europe, he, with the approval of Bishop Carroll, entered St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, as one of its first students, it having been founded the previous year (1791) by Sulpician priests, refugees from France. On 18 March, 1795, he was ordained priest, being the first to receive in the limits of the original thirteen of the United States all the orders from tonsure to priesthood. (Read entire post.)

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