Category Archives: US History

#263 – Lift As You Climb

As we begin National Black Catholic History Month in the United States, we look at the life and work of Lena Frances Edwards. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Edwards spent her life in defense of those most in need.

Articles on Black Catholic History Month can be found here, here, here and here
Important dates in Black Catholic History
Important Black Catholics in history

Ebony article about Lena Edwards on the mission in Texas
A brief biography of Lena Frances Edwards can be found here

Davis, OSB, Cyprian. The History of Black Catholics in the United States. New York: Crossroad, 1995.
Interview with Lena Edwards, M.D. Cambridge, MA: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, 1980.
Scally, Mary Anthony. Medicine, motherhood, and mercy: the story of a Black woman doctor. Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers, 1979.

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podcasticon#263 – Lift As You Climb


#256 – The Wild West in the Vatican

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West was popular throughout the United States and even Europe. Yet, while many amazing displays could be found at Buffalo Bill Cody’s shows, perhaps the most amazing display took place when he visited Pope Leo XIII.

Buffalo Bill in Rome
Medal Buffalo Bill received from Pope Leo XIII

Delaney, Michelle Anne. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West warriors: a photographic history by Gertrude Käsebier. 2007.
Moses, L. G. Wild West Shows and the images of American Indians, 1883-1933. 1999.
Warren, Louis S. Buffalo Bill’s America: William Cody and the Wild West Show. 2005.

Photo of “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” in front of the Vatican.

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podcasticon#256 – The Wild West in the Vatican

#253 – Traveling With Angels

During his papacy, Pope John Paul II made several visits to the United States. Needless to say, getting everything ready for the Pope’s plane travel was a lot of work but as one TWA employed attested, “it was a labor of love.”

Photos of the air travel of Pope John Paul II on his visits to the United States
Personal accounts by TWA employees of their time with the Holy Father can be found here and here.
Photo of the exhibit at Strawberry Hill Museum including the Pope’s bed.

Photo of Pope John Paul II in front of plane by Ted Koston. Copyright Kosten Photography. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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podcasticon#253 – Traveling With Angels

#250 – Papal Zouaves, Part II

The increasing threat to the Papal States by the Kingdom of Italy will lead to new calls for Catholics to come to the aid of Pius IX. Catholic in Canada respond eagerly. Catholics in the United States are much more hesitant.

Canadian and American Zouaves in the Papal Army, 1868-1870 by Howard R. Marraro, PhD
Last Crusade by Dr. John C. Rao
The Pope’s Legion: The Multinational Fighting Force that Defended the Vatican by Charles A. Coulombe

Image of Canadian Zouaves leaving for the Papal States.

Portiuncula Indulgence – August 2nd!
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podcasticon#250 – Papal Zouaves, Part II

#247 – The Camden 28

At the height of the Vietnam conflict, a group of 28 Christians – the majority of whom were Catholic – took a stand against a war they considered unjust even if meant breaking the law. There actions would lead to what Supreme Court Justice William Brennan would call one of the greatest trials of the 20th century.

The Camden 28 documentary
PBS site dedicated to the Camden 28 documentary with additional information
Link to paper “The Trial of the Camden 28” written by Gregory F. Brown, attorney

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podcasticon#247 – The Camden 28

Today in Catholic History – The Second Plenary Council in Baltimore

On 21 October 1866, the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore came to an end. It had begun on the 7th of October and was presided over by Archbishop Spalding of Baltimore. Present at the council were seven archbishops, thirty-nine bishops or their procurators, two abbots and President of the United States Andrew Johnson. It was designed to show the unity of the Catholic faith in the United States after the Civil War which saw Catholics fighting on both sides.

Among the decrees of the council were condemnations against religious indifferentism and the “abuse of magnetism” for “superstitious and illicit purposes” such as attempting to fortell the future. The council also called for regular provincial councils, for bishops to regularly visit their parishes and for priests to fully explain the doctrine of the Church to the faithful.

Today in Catholic History – Pope John Paul II becomes the first pope to visit the White House

On 6 October 1979, Pope John Paul became the first pope to visit the White House when he met with President Jimmy Carter. The Pope and President met privately for about an hour where they discussed the importance of human rights as the “compelling idea of our times”.

Pope John Paul II and President Carter discussed many issues and President Carter particularly wanted the pope to speak about the situation in Israel. For his part, Pope John Paul II asked the president to work to safeguard human rights, dignity and peace in the world. Pope John Paul II gave a silver sculpture with the words “Peace Unto Thee” to the president but a parchment copy of his first encyclical letter to the President’s mother, Lillian.

Photo of the meeting between President Carter and Pope John Paul II and President Carter’s notes about the meeting.

Today in Catholic History – Sinéad O’Connor tears up picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live

On 3 October 1992, while appearing on Saturday Night Live as a musical guest and singing a version of Bob Marley’s “War”, Sinéad O’Connor tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II while saying “Fight the real enemy” and threw the pieces of the picture toward the camera. She intended her action as a sign of protest against the problem of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Saturday Night Live was not aware of O’Connor’s plan and continues to decline to rebroadcast the O’Connor’s protest with a few exceptions.

The audience reacted with amazement and NBC received 4,484 angry complaints. Frank Sinatra said he wanted to punch O’Connor “right in the mouth”. NBC was fined $2.5 million by the FCC. When O’Connor returned to the US to perform a concert for Bob Dylan, she was greeted with boos and would later permanently retire from the “pop” entertainment industry.

On 22 September 1997, in an interview with the Italian weekly newspaper Vita, O’Connor asked Pope John Paul II to forgive her, claiming that what she had done was “a ridiculous act, the gesture of a girl rebel.” However in 2002, Sinéad said that she wouldn’t have changed anything about what she had done. She has left the Catholic Church to join the Irish Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Today in Catholic History – Roger Maris hits his 61st home run

On 1 October 1961, Roger Maris hit is 61st home run during the fourth inning of a game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. The stress of breaking Babe Ruth’s record was enormous and many baseball fans were not happy. Later, Maris wondered if he should have tried to break the record at all. When a reporter asked him why he was hitting so many home runs, he responded, “I don’t know. Why is the Pope Catholic?”

Still, he received the Catholic Athlete of the Year Award in 1961, which he appreciated more than any of his other honors. When Roger Maris died in December 1985, eight hundred people attended his funeral Mass in the largest Catholic Church in North Dakota. One of the pall bearers was Mickey Mantle.

Today in Catholic History – The founding of the Medical Mission Sisters

On 30 September 1925, Dr. Anna Dengel, Dr. Johanna Lyons, Evelyn Flieger, RN and Marie Ulbrich, R.N. the “First Four” founded the Medical Mission Sisters in Washington DC. The women were not yet professed sisters because the Catholic Church did not yet approve of sisters working in health care, that would not take place until 1935. Still, they lived as a community and grew as they worked to serve in the field of medicine and other related areas.

The Medical Mission Sisters was the inspiration of Dr. Anna Dengel who wanted to begin a religious community to meet the needs of the poor, who were “to live for God…to dedicate themselves to the service of the sick for the love of God and …to be properly trained according to the knowledge and standards of the time in order to practice medicine in its fill scope, to which the Sisters were to dedicate their lives.”

They will be the first Roman Catholic Congregation to provide surgeons and obstetricians for missionary work.

There is an earlier CUTH podcast on Anna Dengel