Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos
(January 11, 1819 –
October 4, 1867) was a German-American Roman Catholic priest
and Redemptorist missionary
born in Füssen, Bavaria, Germany on January
11, 1819 and was baptized the same day in the parish church of
expressed a desire for the priesthood since childhood, he entered
the diocesan seminary in 1842 after having completed his studies in
philosophy. Soon after meeting the missionaries of the Congregation of the Most
, founded for the evangelization of the most
abandoned, he decided to enter the congregation and to minister to
German-speaking immigrants in the United States. He was accepted by the
Congregation on November 22, 1842, and sailed the following year
Havre, France, 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.
being ordained, he worked for nine years in the parish of St.
Philomena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, first as assistant pastor to St. John Neumann, who was the superior of the
Religious Community, later as Superior himself, and for three years
During this time, he was also the Redemptorist
Novice Master. With Neumann, he also dedicated himself to preaching
missions. Regarding their relationship, Seelos said: "He has
introduced me to the active life" and, "he has guided me as a
spiritual director and confessor."
His availability and innate kindness in understanding and
responding to the needs of the faithful quickly made him well known
as an expert confessor and spiritual director, so much so that
people came to him even from neighboring towns. Faithful to the
, he practiced a simple
lifestyle and a simple manner of expressing himself. The themes of
his preaching, rich in Biblical content, were always heard and
understood even by the simplest people.
A constant endeavor in this pastoral activity was instructing the
little children in the faith. He not only favored this ministry, he
held it as fundamental for the growth of the Christian community in
the Parish. In 1854, he was transferred from Pittsburgh to
Baltimore, then to Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Cumberland, Maryland, in 1857,
and to Annapolis (1862), all the while engaged in Parish ministry
and serving in the formation of future Redemptorists as Prefect of
Even in this post, he was true to his character,
remaining always the kind and happy pastor, always prudently
attentive to the needs of his students and conscientious of their
doctrinal formation. Above all, he strove to instill in these
future Redemptorist missionaries the enthusiasm, spirit of
sacrifice, and apostolic zeal for the spiritual and temporal
welfare of the people.
In 1860 he was proposed as a candidate for the office of Bishop of
Pittsburgh. Having been excused from this responsibility by Blessed
Pope Pius IX
, from 1863 until 1866, he
dedicated himself to the life of an itinerant missionary preaching
in English and German in the states of Connecticut, Illinois,
Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island and Wisconsin.
brief period of parish ministry in Detroit, Michigan, he was
assigned in 1866 to the Redemptorist community in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here also, as pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the
Assumption, he was known as a pastor who was joyously
available to his faithful and singularly concerned for the poorest
and the most abandoned.
Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier
Seelos in church where he was baptised, St Mang Basilica,
However, his ministry in New Orleans
was destined to be brief. In September of that year, exhausted from
visiting and caring for victims of yellow
, he contracted the disease. After several weeks, he died
on October 4, 1867, at the age of 48 years and 9 months.
Pope John Paul II beatified
Father Seelos in St. Peter's Square
on April 9, 2000. His
day in the Martyrology
On May 19, 2009 the Archbishop of Baltimore,Most Reverend Edwin F.
O’Brien,celebrated Mass with many Redemptorist Priests to open the
Diocesan process to investigate a possible 2nd miracle related to
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos.After the Mass, Rev. Gilbert J.
Seitz, J.C.L. of the Baltimore Archdiocese Metropolitan Tribunal
began the depositions of key witnesses – including that of Mary
Ellen Heibelof St. Mary’s (Redemptorist) Church, Annapolis, who
attributes her healing of metastasized esophageal cancer through
Father Seelos’ intercession.After the Session(s) of the Inquiry
Phase are conducted, the official documentation will be sent to the
Redemptorist Postulator General, Rev. Antonio Marrazzo, C.Ss.R.,
for review by the Vatican Congregation of the Causes of the