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The Catholic Defender: Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos

When I was stationed in New Orleans serving in the United States Army, I would spend time at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church at 3037 Dauphine Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, a shrine dedicated to Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos and meet with pilgrims coming from all over the world. There I encourged them to give thanks to the Lord for the blessings and answered prayer. This was a geat blessing for me to see this active faith in action.

Seelos was born in Füssen in the Kingdom of Bavaria on January 11, 1819, one of 12 children

Having expressed a desire for the priesthood since childhood, he entered the diocesan seminary on September 19, 1842.

He was accepted by the Redemptorists on November 22, 1842, and sailed the following year from Le Havre, France, on March 17, arriving in New York on April 20, 1843. On December 22, 1844, after having completed his novitiate and theological studies, Seelos was ordained a priest in the Redemptorist Church of St. James in Baltimore, Maryland.

Although only 48 years old, his influence lasted well beyond his brief lifetime. Father Seelos is the patron of immigrants to the United States; his feast is celebrated on Oct.

Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000, Fr. Seelos possessed great mystical gifts due to his life of intense prayer and penance. His innate kindness, understanding and dedication to the needs of the faithful from all walks of life makes him an outstanding model for those in religious life and laity alike.

Francis Xavier Seelos, CSsR (January 11, 1819 – October 4, 1867) was a German Redemptorist who worked as a missionary in the United States frontier. Towards the end of his life, he went to New Orleans to minister to victims of yellow fever.

Zeal as a preacher and a confessor led Father Seelos to works of compassion as well.

Born in southern Bavaria, he studied philosophy and theology in Munich. On hearing about the work of the Redemptorists among German-speaking Catholics in the United States, he came to this country in 1843. Ordained at the end of 1844, he was assigned for six years to St. Philomena’s Parish in Pittsburgh as an assistant to Saint John Neumann. The next three years Father Seelos was superior in the same community, and began his service as novice master.

Several years in parish ministry in Maryland followed, along with responsibility for training Redemptorist students. During the Civil War Fr. Seelos went to Washington, D.C., and appealed to President Lincoln that those students not be drafted for military service, although eventually some were.

For several years, he preached in English and in German throughout the Midwest and in the Mid-Atlantic states. Assigned to St. Mary of the Assumption Church community in New Orleans, Fr. Seelos served his Redemptorist confreres and parishioners with great zeal. In 1867, he died of yellow fever, having contracted that disease while visiting the sick. He was beatified in 2000. The liturgical feast of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos is celebrated on October 5.

Father Seelos worked in many different places but always with the same zeal: to help people know God’s love and compassion. He preached about the works of mercy and then engaged in them, even risking his own health.

Pope John Paul II beatified Seelos in St. Peter's Square on April 9, 2000. In the beatification homily, the pope stated: "Today, Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos invites the members of the Church to deepen their union with Christ in the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Through his intercession, may all who work in the vineyard for the salvation of God's people be encouraged and strengthened in their task."

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos is a Patron Saint of: Immigrants to the United States

The National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos is located in St. Mary's Assumption Church, the first German Catholic Church in New Orleans and Louisiana. The Shrine contains the official portrait of Father Seelos, used in Rome for his beatification, and photographs that depict Father Seelos and his life as a missionary. The centerpiece of the Shrine is a sacred reliquary, which houses the remains of Father Seelos. St. Mary's Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places

The historic St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church at 3037 Dauphine Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, was renamed Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Catholic Church in his honor.Additionally, after two Catholic elementary schools were merged in Wexford, Pennsylvania, the school was renamed in his honor, Blessed Francis Seelos Academy.


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