James Gibbons (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: As the most influential American archbishop of the late nineteenth century, Gibbons helped establish Catholicism as an important and vital religion in modern American society.
James Gibbons was born July 23, 1834, in Baltimore, Maryland, the eldest son in a family of five children. His parents, Thomas Gibbons and Bridget (Walsh) Gibbons, were Irish immigrants. When James was three, his family returned to Ireland because of his father’s poor health. They resettled in New Orleans in 1853, six years after his father’s death.
Upon his return to the United States, Gibbons worked as a clerk in a grocery store for two years. In 1855, he entered Saint Charles College, Ellicott City, Maryland. He moved on to Saint Mary’s Seminary in his native Baltimore in 1857 and was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church on June 30, 1861.
Throughout the Civil War, Gibbons pastored various congregations in the Chesapeake Bay area. In addition, he served as a volunteer chaplain at Forts McHenry and Marshall. His dedicated service earned for him much public admiration, and he was one of only three Catholic priests invited to pay their respects when the body of the assassinated President Abraham Lincoln passed through Baltimore.
Following the war, Gibbons’ influence in the Catholic Church rapidly increased. In 1865, he was appointed secretary to the archbishop of...
(The entire section is 1753 words.)
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