Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos was a German Redemptorist who worked as a missionary in the United States. He was born on January 11 1819 in Füssen, Bavaria, Germany and died on October 4 1867 in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. His feast day is celebrated on October 5 every year in the Catholic Church.
|Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Biography|
|Date of Birth||January 11 1819|
|Place of Birth||Füssen, Bavaria, Germany|
|Profession||Priest and Redemptorist Missionary|
|Place of Work||New Orleans, Louisiana, United States|
|Date of Death||October 4 1867|
|Place of Death||New Orleans, Louisiana, United States|
|Feast Day||October 5|
|Beatification||By Pope John Paul II on April 9 2000, Vatican City|
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Life History
Francis Xavier Seelos’s father was called Mang Seelos and his mother was called Franziska Schwarzenbach who were proud parents of 12 children.
Seelos was baptized at birth at St Mang Catholic Parish in Füssen. He went to school in Augsburg at the Institute of Saint Stephen. He studied philosophy at the University of Munich and began theology as a diocesan seminarian on September 19 1842.
The Catholic newspaper called Sion was publishing letters from the Redemptorist missionaries who stated that thousands of German-speaking immigrants in the United States lacked spiritual care.
In the United States
Seelos visited the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists) in Altötting and requested to join the congregation and work as a missionary in the United States. His request was accepted on November 22 1842, and on April 20 1843 he arrived in New York.
He entered the Redemptorist novitiate, completed his theological studies and on December 22 1844, he was ordained a priest in St James Catholic Church in Baltimore, Maryland.
After Seelos was ordained as a priest, he worked at St Philomena Catholic Parish in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for nine years. He started as an assistant to St John Neumann who was the superior of the Redemptorist community. Later on, he became a Superior himself and thereafter as the pastor.
In addition to his work as assistant pastor, Seelos, together with Neumann, dedicated himself to preaching missions. Regarding his relationship with St. John Neumann, Seelos said: “He has introduced me to the active life” and, “he has guided me as spiritual director and confessor”.
Seelos was tall, slender, kind, and spoke English very fluently. His understanding and responses to the needs of his faithful made him be known and admired as an experienced spiritual director and confessor.
He tended to the needs of the faithful even from neighbouring towns. He did not discriminate against whites or blacks. He would hear confessions in several languages like German, French and English. While preaching, his message was simple and clear but very effective. Even the simplest and least of all people understood his message. Seelos had a generous heart and always met people with a smile. He loved to tend to the sick, needy and the marginalized.
He loved instructing people to the faith especially the little children and the youths. In 1857, he was appointed Pastor and Prefect of Students at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Cumberland, Maryland. In 1862, he was appointed Pastor and Prefect of Students at St. Mary’s Parish in Annapolis, Maryland.
As prefect of students, Seelos was always attentive to their needs spiritually and morally and gave these future Redemptorists missionaries the spirit of sacrifice, enthusiasm and apostolic zeal to take care of God’s when they come of age.
In 1860, His Excellency Michael O’Connor, Bishop of Pittsburgh, upon leaving his diocese, recommended Father Seelos as the Priest most qualified to succeed him. Francis Seelos wrote Pope Paul IX explaining his inadequacy to accept such a responsibility and asking ” to be liberated from this calamity”. He was overjoyed when another Priest was named Bishop of Pittsburgh.
Following the outbreak of the Civil War in the United States, new laws were enacted in 1863 which required every able-bodied male to make himself available for military duty. Seelos, as Superior of the Redemptorist seminary, traveled to Washington to meet with President Abraham Lincoln and ask him to exempt the Redemptorist seminarians from military service. Lincoln, according to Seelos himself, was not only extremely receptive of the petition but promised to do everything in his power to bring it about. In fact, the students were exempted from going off to war.
From 1863 to 1866, Seelos became an itinerant missionary and preached in the states of Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Michigan, Illinois and Connecticut.
After being a Curate of St. Mary’s Parish in Detroit, Michigan for over a year, in 1866, Seelos became a Pastor of the Church of St Mary of the Assumption, New Orleans.
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Death
In New Orleans, there was a yellow fever epidemic and as Seelos was visiting and taking care of the victims, he contracted the disease. After several weeks he died on October 4 1867, at almost 49 years.
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos was beatified on April 9 2000 by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square, Rome Italy.
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Feast Day
Seelos is commemorated in the Martyrology on October 5 every year in the Catholic Church.
Churches Named After Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos
- The National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos in St. Mary’s Assumption Catholic Church, New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Catholic Church New Orleans, Louisiana (St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church)
- Blessed Francis Seelos Academy in Wexford, Pennsylvania
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos is a Patron Saint of
- Immigrants to the United States
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Prayer
O God, who made your Priest Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos
outstanding in love,
that he might proclaim the mysteries of redemption
and comfort those in affliction,
grant, by his intercession,
that we may work zealously for your glory
and for the salvation of mankind.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
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