Blessed Francis Seelos (1819 – 1867)
First class relic in the altar.
From an early age, Francis Xavier Seelos expressed his desire to become a priest. He was born in Bavaria, Germany in 1819, and after completing studies in philosophy, he entered the seminary. He joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer; and, in 1843, he came to America as a missionary. He was ordained a priest in the Redemptorist Church of St. James in Baltimore, Maryland and ministered to German speaking immigrants. He then worked for nine years in the parish of St. Philomena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania alongside St. John Neumann. During this time, he served as assistant pastor, the superior of the Religious Community, the Redemptorist Novice Master, and for the last three years as pastor.
Seelos dedicated himself to parish ministry and preaching missions. He is most known for his innate kindness and understanding while responding to the needs of the faithful. He was known as an expert confessor and spiritual director. He practiced a simple lifestyle and had deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. Francis was particularly attentive to the needs of the youth in the parish and to the doctrinal formation of his students.
In 1854, Seelos was transferred from Pittsburgh to Baltimore, to Cumberland and to Annapolis in 1862. While in Annapolis, Francis met with Abraham Lincoln urging him to excuse his seminarian students from military service during the Civil War. They were not officially excused but were never drafted.
From 1863 until 1866, Francis became a full-time itinerant missionary preacher. He preached in English and German in the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. He was named pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he died of yellow fever. His apostolic zeal for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the people initiated his Cause for Canonization in 1900.