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Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos’ Story
(January 11, 1819 – October 4, 1867)
Zeal as a preacher and a confessor led Father Seelos to works of compassion as well.
Born in southern Bavaria, he studied philosophy and theology in Munich. On hearing about the work of the Redemptorists among German-speaking Catholics in the United States, he came to this country in 1843. Ordained at the end of 1844, he was assigned for six years to St. Philomena’s Parish in Pittsburgh as an assistant to Saint John Neumann. The next three years Father Seelos was superior in the same community and began his service as novice master.
Several years in parish ministry in Maryland followed, along with responsibility for training Redemptorist students. During the Civil War, he went to Washington, D.C., and appealed to President Lincoln that those students not be drafted for military service, although, eventually, some were.
For several years, he preached in English and in German throughout the Midwest and in the Mid-Atlantic states. Assigned to St. Mary of the Assumption Church community in New Orleans, he served his Redemptorist confreres and parishioners with great zeal. In 1867, he died of yellow fever, having contracted that disease while visiting the sick. He was beatified in 2000.
Father Seelos worked in many different places but always with the same zeal: to help people know God’s love and compassion. He preached about the works of mercy and then engaged in them, even risking his own health.