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Feast of Elijah P. Lovejoy, Owen Lovejoy, and William Wells Brown (November 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  Am I Not a Man and a Brother?

Image in the Public Domain

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ELIJAH PARISH LOVEJOY (NOVEMBER 9, 1802-NOVEMBER 7, 1837)

U.S. Journalist, Abolitionist, Presbyterian Minister, and Martyr, 1837

brother of

OWEN LOVEJOY (JANUARY 6, 1811-MARCH 25, 1864)

U.S. Abolitionist, Lawmaker, and Congregationalist Minister

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WILLIAM WELLS BROWN (CIRCA 1814-NOVEMBER 6, 1884)

African-American Abolitionist, Novelist, Historian, and Physician

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If the evil authorities refuse to protect me, I will look to God; and if I die, I have determined to make my grave in Alton.

–Elijah P. Lovejoy, November 3, 1837; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 718

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Shout it from the rooftops!

–Congressman Owen Lovejoy, 1859, in response to the allegation of being a “Negro stealer”

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TO WELLS BROWN, OF OHIO

Thirteen years ago, I came to your door, a weary fugitive from chain and tripes.  I was hungry, and you fed me.  Naked was I, and you clothed me.  Even a name by which to be known among men, slavery had denied me.  You bestowed upon me your own.  Base indeed, should I be, if I ever forget what I owe to you, or do anything to disgrace that honored name!

As a slight testimony of my gratitude  to my earliest benefactor, I take the liberty to inscribe to you this little narrative of the sufferings from which I was fleeing when you had compassion upon me.  In the multitude that you have succored, it is very possible that you may not remember me; but until I forget God and myself, I can never forget you.

Your faithful friend,

William Wells Brown

Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave (1848), Second Edition

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Elijah P. Lovejoy comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  Owen Lovejoy and William Wells Brown come to my Ecumenical Calendar via personal connections to Elijah P. Lovejoy.

Elijah and Owen Lovejoy were sons of farmers Daniel Lovejoy (also a Congregationalist minister) and Elizabeth Pattee (Lovejoy), of Albion, Maine.

Elijah, born on November 9, 1802, received his name in honor of Elijah Parish (November 7, 1762-October 15, 1825), a Congregationalist minister, an abolitionist, an active member of the Federalist Party, and a friend of Daniel Lovejoy.  Elijah graduated from Waterville College, Waterville, Maine, with honors, in 1826.  He, as a student, had received financial support from Benjamin Tappan (Jr.) and taught in the college’s preparatory school.

Owen, born on January 6, 1811, left the farm at the age of 18 years and matriculated at Bowdoin College.  He studied yet never practiced law.  Owen, a member of the Class of 1832, became a Congregationalist minister instead.

Elijah decided to serve God in the West–Illinois, to be precise–yet needed money first.  He attempted to find work in Boston, Massachusetts, before moving along to New York, New York.  There, in 1827, he sold subscriptions to the Saturday Evening Gazette door-to-door for a few weeks.  During this time of struggles our saint wrote to Jeremiah Chaplin, the President of Waterville, College.  Chaplin sent enough money for Elijah to go westward.

Elijah lived and worked in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1827 to 1836.  At first he taught in schools and submitted poems to newspapers.  Then our saint became a parter in the St. Louis Times, which favored the National Republican Party, a predecessor of the Whig Party.  Elijah, as a journalist, met community leaders active in the American Colonization Society.  Our saint, after a period of spiritual struggle, converted to Presbyterianism in 1832.  He, as a partner in the St. Louis Times, hired a slave, later known as William Wells Brown.

William, born a slave near Lexington, Kentucky, circa 1814, was a mulatto.  His master and father was George W. Higgins.  Our saint’s mother was Elizabeth, a slave.  Higgins sold Elizabeth and William several time.  William grew up mostly in St. Louis, where he worked primarily on river boats.  He and his mother escaped to Illinois in 1833, but slave hunter captured them.  Our saint escaped successfully to Ohio the following year, though.  In Ohio a Quaker named Wells Brown provided clothing, food, and money, and helped William move along.

Also in 1834, the renamed William Wells Brown married Elizabeth Schooner.  The couple had two daughters who lived to adulthood–Clarissa and Josephine.  The latter (1839-1874) wrote her father’s biography in 1856.  The couple separated in 1847, and Elizabeth died in 1851.

William lived in Buffalo, New York, from 1836 to 1845.  There he worked on a steamboat on Lake Eve and helped many slaves escape to Canada.  He also became active in the abolitionist and temperance movements in Buffalo.

Elijah, who studied at Princeton Theological Seminary, starting in 1832, became an ordained minister the following year.  In 1833 he published the first issue of the St. Louis Observer, a Presbyterian newspaper.  He wrote critically of slavery, tobacco, liquor, and Roman Catholicism.  Our saint favored gradual emancipation.  He also refused demands backed up by threats of mob violence–to cease writing about slavery.

In 1836 Francis McIntosh, a free African American taken into police custody unjustly, attacked the officers, wounding one and killing the other.  He subsequently died at the hands of a lynch mob.  A local judge blamed only Elijah, whom he accused of stirring up discontent.  Our saint knew he had to leave St. Louis.  Before he departed, however, a mob destroyed his printing press while authorities watched.  Elijah, his wife Celia Ann French (married in 1835), and family left for Alton, Illinois.

The Alton Observer debuted in 1836.  Elijah continued to write against slavery, despite threats of mob violence and the lack of police protection.  In late October 1837 he presided over the congress of the Illinois Anti-Slavery Society at his congregation, Upper Alton Presbyterian Church.

Elijah became a martyr on November 7, 1837.  He and some supporters defended themselves against a mob that broke into the warehouse where he had hidden his new printing press.  Our saint died, and the mob threw the printing press into the Mississippi River.  His wife and two children had to go on without him.  There was no funeral, and an unmarked grave held his corpse, despite national attention.  Also, no court convicted anyone for the murder.  John Brown, however, dedicated his life to the destruction of slavery shortly thereafter.

Owen, who witnessed his brother’s murder, took up the mantle.  He and brother Joseph wrote Memoir of Elijah P. Lovejoy (1838).  Owen, pastor of the Congregational Church, Princeton, Illinois (1838-1856), founded congregations in conjunction with the American Missionary Association and became a conductor of the Underground Railroad.  He, a friend of Abraham Lincoln, served in the Illinois State Legislature (1855-1857) then the U.S. House of Representatives (1857-1864).

Owen died in Brooklyn, New York, on March 25, 1864.

William Wells Brown continued to work against slavery.  He, Clarissa, and Josephine lived in England from 1849 to 1854.  He traveled, lecturing on behalf of the abolitionist cause.  In 1854, the Richardsons, who had purchased the freedom of Frederick Douglass, did the same for Brown.  Our saint and his daughter moved to Boston, Massachusetts, that year.  While in England, he had written and published Clotel; or, the President’s Daughter (1853), a novel based on the lives of slave children of Thomas JeffersonClotel was the first novel by an African American.

Brown, back in the United States, persisted in his abolitionist activism.  He, a renowned orator and the first published African-American playwright (for The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom, 1858), sided with William Lloyd Garrison in the dispute that divided the U.S. abolitionist movement.  Brown, like Garrison, included women in the definition of people who deserved legal equality.  Our saint became more radical after 1854; he advocated for emigration to Haiti, laid aside his opposition to violence, and helped to recruit African-American soldiers for the U.S. Army during the Civil War.

Brown, who married Anna Elizabeth Gray in 1860, added more items to his list of accomplishments.  He became a historian, writing the following volumes:

  1. The Black Man:  His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements (1863);
  2. The Negro in the American Rebellion (1867), perhaps the first work about African American during the U.S. War for Independence; and
  3. The Rising Son; or, the Antecedents and Advancements of the Colored Race (1873).

Furthermore, Brown became a doctor.

Brown died in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on November 6, 1884.

Elijah P. Lovejoy, Owen Lovejoy, and William Wells Brown loved God, followed Christ, and left their country and world better than they found them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 21, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN HENRY NEWMAN, CARDINAL

THE FEAST OF SAINT ARNULF OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT GERMANUS OF GRANFEL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERT SOUTHWELL, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL WOLCOTT, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, MISSIONARY, AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom

the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos (October 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED FRANCIS XAVIER SEELOS (JANUARY 11, 1819-OCTOBER 4, 1867)

German-American Roman Catholic Priest

Alternative feast days = October 4 and October 12

Franz Xaver Seelos, born in Füssen, Bavaria, on January 11, 1819, devoted his adult life to the service of God.  His mother was Frances Schwarzenbach.  Our saint’s father was Mang Seelos, a parish sacristan and a textile merchant.  Seelos, named after St. Francis Xavier (1505-1552), received the sacrament of baptism on the day of his birth.  Our saint, confirmed on September 3, 1828, received his First Communion on April 2, 1830.  He, having discerned his priestly vocation while a boy, graduated from the Institute of St. Stephen, Augsburg, in 1839.  He continued his education at the University of Munich, where he studied theology and philosophy.  In 1842 Seelos graduated from the University of Munich and matriculated at St. Jerome Seminary, Dillengen an der Danau.

1842 was a year of turning points in the life of our saint.  He joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists) on November 22.  St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori had founded the order in 1732.  Seelos felt drawn to the order, due to its work with the abandoned, the poor, and immigrants.  He left the seminary on December 9, 1842, with the intention of ministering to German immigrants in the United States of America.

Seelos spent 1843-1867 in the United States.  He, having sailed on March 17, 1843, arrived in the New York City on April 29.  Seelos, ordained to the priesthood in Baltimore, Maryland, on December 22, 1844, ministered to German immigrants faithfully.  For nine years he served in St. Philomena Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  For six of those years he was the assistant to and spiritual student of St. John Nepomucene Neumann (1811-1860).  For three of those years Seelos was the local Redemptorist novice master.  At. St. Philomena Church our saint was a popular confessor in three languages (French, German, and English) and from many people from various backgrounds.

Our saint’s final thirteen years were full of faithful service, too.  Seelos served in Baltimore (1854-1857), Cumberland (1857-1862), and Annapolis (1862-1863), all in Maryland.  Along the way, in 1860, he avoided becoming the Bishop of Pittsburgh.  In 1863, Seelos, as the Superior of the Redemptorist seminary, persuaded President Abraham Lincoln to exempt seminarians from the military draft.  Later that year our saint lost his job, for alleged leniency.  Seelos spent 1863-1866 as an itinerant priest in states in the North, from New England to the Midwest.  In 1866-1867 our saint served in a German immigrant parish in New Orleans, Louisiana.  On October 4, 1867, he, aged 46 years, died of yellow fever.  Seelos had contracted the disease while ministering to people afflicted with it.

Pope John Paul II declared Seelos a Venerable then beatified him in 2000.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOLAR, PHILOSOPHER, AND BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF WILFRED THOMASON GRENFELL, MEDICAL MISSIONARY TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

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O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos,

to be a pastor in your Church and to feed your flock:

Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 719

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