Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Seelos: The Cumberland Years. the Life and Labors of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos in Maryland's Allegheny Mountains, 1857-1865

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Seelos: The Cumberland Years. the Life and Labors of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos in Maryland's Allegheny Mountains, 1857-1865

Article excerpt

BRIEF NOTICES

Burkey, Blaine, O.F.M. Cap. Seelos: The Cumberland Years. The Life and Labors of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos in Maryland's Allegheny Mountains, 1857-1865. (New Orleans: The Redemptorists/Seelos Center. 2010. Pp. 92. $13.65 paperback. ISBN 978-0-972-71695-6.)

This small but scrupulously researched work offers a glimpse into the mind and heart of a Redemptorist immigrant priest during a critical period in U.S. history: the years just before and during the Civil War. The setting is Cumberland, a city in the border state of Maryland. The author's ancestors were parishioners of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, and a great-great uncle was Seelos's confrere in religious life. This personal connection wreaths the author's portrait of his subject.

Seelos's letters, whether he was writing to friends in his adopted country or to family back home in Bavaria, bring to life a charming, decent, passionate, and perfectly human young man. After one mission, Seelos complained that the schedule was punishing. After another, he lamented the damage done in the parish by previous pastors he deemed unworthy.

At various points in the narrative, we see a city teeming with soldiers and hear gunshots; we cringe as a confrère maligns Seelos; and we mourn as illness, war, and poverty fell the city's youth. Seelos writes little about these matters, but in letters to family he writes at length, with humor and exasperation, about bedbugs. …

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