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Catholic / Saints of New York City Tour

Posted: Oct 24, 2012 | 11:09 PM

For years I have wanted to do a Pierre Toussaint tour, and my dream came true in the form of a Catholic Pilgrimage Tour that I gave yesterday.

They wanted a Catholic History Tour and a New York City Saints tour.  The constraints: 3 hours and Midtown to Downtown.

The Venerable Pierre Toussaint has a lot of sites in this zone:  St Peter's Church and both Saint Patrick's Cathedrals.  I define 'Venerable' as 'on the road to Sainthood.'  (It is more involved than that, but this suffices for now.) 

Toussaint helped found and fund the first Catholic church in NYC, St. Peter's, which was later replaced by a new St Peter's there by Dagger John Hughes in the early 1830s. 

Who is Dagger John Hughes?  He led the construction of the new St Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Ave and 50th Street.  He also founded the Catholic education and health care system.  This was in an era in which Catholics were literally under attack.

There were Christmas riots at St Peters in the early 19th Century during which Catholic worshipers on Christmas Eve were killed after midnight mass.  Much of New York City's celebration of Christmas was a drunken harvest festival that lasted from around December 6th through early January.  This bacchanalia sometimes led to anti-Catholic killings.

A few blocks away, the American St Nicholas, Santa Claus was born.  He helped bring peace to New York's Christmas in the way that, perhaps, the only Saint beloved by all Christianity could.

Father Mychal Judge, the Chaplain of the NY Fire Department, and a humanitarian of the Franciscan Order was laid to rest at St Peter's as well.  We recounted his remarkable life and prayed at the World Trade Center.

Toussaint also funded the original St Patrick's Cathedral in 'NoLitIta' (north of Little Italy).  This Cathedral was defended by a militia that Dagger John Hughes organized to defend it.

Toussaint was originally entombed at Old St. Patrick's, but his remains were relocated to St Patrick's Cathedral along with Cardinals, some on their way to Sainthood as well.

There is America's first Saint, the immigrant Mother Cabrini.  She ministered at Greenwich Village's Our Lady of Pompeii Church.  In her day that area was called 'the South Village' or the 'Ninth Ward.'  The Italian immigrants were destitute.  She founded 65 hospitals, schools, and orphanages.  I'd be proud to found a bookstore.

Rounding it out, Elizabeth Anne Seton had her miraculous vision at the original St Peter's, and her Mission work was at  Our Lady of the Rosary Church at the bottom or beginning of New York City.


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