Friday, January 18, 2008

Catholic St. Louis

~via Rome of the West by William Barnaby Faherty, SJ
Just as Saint Louisans of all denominations had outlooks that differed from those of New Yorkers or Baltimoreans, so the unusual origins of Saint Louis gave to local Catholics a further differing attitude from their co-religionists elsewhere. On the eastern seaboard, Catholic immigrants found Boston or Philadelphia already stratified Anglo-American Protestant communities. Catholics began Saint Louis. They formed as much a part of the scenery as the trees, the streets, the buildings. During the forty years before Saint Louis became a part of the United States, few members of other denominations came to the city. When Saint Louis became American at the time of the Louisiana Purchase (1804), individuals of other religious affiliations arrived. Even twenty years later, they did not outnumber the Catholics. Since then, Catholics have usually numbered close to half the populace. In his book, Inside U.S.A., social observer John Gunther forthrightly called Saint Louis a "Catholic city."
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