About this blogger:
Ronda Chervin received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Fordham University and an MA in Religious Studies from Notre Dame Apostolic Institute. A widow, mother, and grandmother, she currently teaches philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut. Write to her at chervinronda@gmail.com.
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"Goupil deserves the name of martyr not only because he has been murdered by the enemies of God and His Church while laboring in ardent charity for his neighbor, but most of all because he was killed for being at prayer and notably for making the Sign of the Cross."
— St. Isaac Jogues (after the martyrdom of Saint René Goupil)

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Fr. Gallitzin - missionary to the Alleghenies
published 25 May 2011 by Dr. Ronda Chervin

Well, my dear blog friends, I have now reached the point where I can’t remember what I wrote in former blogs. I am hoping that when Jeff Ostrowski puts them up he will notice and send them back if I am becoming an old repetitious bore…sigh!

What I don’t remember is if I told you that after my husband died in 1993 I tried 16 different ventures. As a result, when I come upon a new Catholic library, I start reading the lives of the saints I am not familiar with A-Z. But sometimes I glance at the nearby shelf that contains the lives of those others thought should be canonized but have not yet made it. These biographies detail everything the Congregation for Canonization would have to know in case the miracles piled up so that they would have to take notice. They are usually written by authors who knew the saint personally and if said writer was a good narrator they can be almost as wonderful as reading the lives of canonized saints, sometimes written by less gifted authors.

In this way I came upon one Fr. Gallitzin. The name always intrigued me. How did a Russian prince wind up as a key figure in American Catholic Church history? Oh, my, what an amazing figure, not only in terms of his holiness but of a psychological feature rather rare. Prince Gallitzin was the 18th century son of a German noblewoman married to a Russian prince who was a representative of the Czar living in Germany. The mother was a beautiful, adored society woman who became more and more devout to the point that when her children were old enough to be handed over to fancy tutors she decided instead to, in effect, home-school them making use of progressive ideas of educational experts.
This worked well with the daughter, but the little prince turned out to be less than scholarly of temperament. The holy mother wept and scolded, wept and scolded, and even wrote the little prince letters of admonition about why he was so lazy and absolutely without any drive to learn anything.

This went on until he was 19. Because of the French Revolution they couldn’t send prince charming on the usual Wanderjahre to Parish. Instead they packed him off to visit an uncle-missionary-priest in the United States. To the total surprise of the parents and the prince, early on he had a miraculous conversion through the Jesuits and risked losing his entire inheritance to become a missionary to the poor in the wilds of Pennsylvania. At the seminary he became so studious when it was theology he had to learn instead of the other liberal arts, that he had to be ordered to go to sleep. He became a holy missionary beloved for giving everything to the poor. Eventually the Russians, who never let anyone inherit their legacy who was Catholic no less a priest, gave all his money to other family members and Prince Father Gallitzin lived in real poverty with heroic virtue. It particularly wrung my heart hearing of him riding days and nights on horseback through snow and rain to far-off mission stations, and then having to eat hard meats and several day old biscuits with his dentures!

The bio I read was by a wonderful writer, an Austrian missionary priest, Fr. Lemcke. If you can’t find that, look for another.

Dr. Ronda Chervin has many free e-books and audios on her website rondachervin.com. If you go to her website and read or listen and then want to correspond with her she will be available. Her schedule does not permit, however, responding to comments on the Blog, though she enjoys reading them. Dr. Ronda’s newest project is spiritualityrunningtogod.com.

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