Fr. Francis Sampson was the "paratrooper padre." He parachuted into Normandy, behind enemy lines, on D-Day, June 6, 1944, along with more than 13,000 other Allied paratroopers. He also was directly involved in the episode that inspired Steven Spielberg's epic war drama Saving Private Ryan. He hadn't planned on being a paratrooper when he joined the Army chaplain corps and the Archdiocese for Military Services, but his naiveté about what he had signed up for was a good thing for his men. He was dedicated to their well-being, spiritually and physically. On D-Day, he stayed behind at an aid station in a French village when the rest of the paratroopers he was with moved along to rendezvous with the larger unit. The aid station had 14 men who couldn't be moved. When the Germans came he was put up against a wall and nearly shot, but a German sergeant recognized he was a priest and his life was spared. Once the Americans retook the village, he and the survivors were evacuated. Eventually he was captured and spent the last few months as a prisoner of war in Germany. After World War II ended, he served in Korea, and then stateside as a chaplain, and eventually the chief of all Army chaplains, before retiring in 1971.
We had a splendid time visiting The Willows, the home of Joseph Warren Revere, last weekend. It sits within Fosterfields Living Historical Farm outside of Morristown, New Jersey. We were in town for a wedding, and couldn't pass on the opportunity to see this historic home. And what a well-preserved bit of history it is!
The Foster family, who bought the house from Revere's widow, preserved a number of Revere's things, including the extensive trompe l'oeil paintings he did in the foyer and dining room.
If you're ever in the Morristown, NJ area we highly recommend you take the time to visit The Willows — and the rest of Fosterfields. They have additional museums on site, plus a working farm that preserves techniques and activities from 1920s farming. You also can pet the animals and take part in the work.
In 1819, Father Samuel Sutherland Cooper was shocked when the host in his hands suddenly changed into a piece of bleeding flesh. This happened in Augusta, Georgia, just a few days after Father Cooper had boasted that a demonstration proving the doctrine of Transubstantiation would take place on Sunday. His rash boast — and he recognized its rashness as soon as he'd proclaimed it — was in response to the abuse being hurled upon the Church, and especially upon the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, by an ex-priest who still lived in the area. The remarkable happening naturally caused a sensation. Learn more about the remarkable life of Samuel Sutherland Cooper: https://americancatholichistory.org/samuel-sutherland-cooper/
Father Henry Duranquet, SJ, became known as The Apostle to the Tombs because of his work with prisoners in New York's prisons, including the one known as The Tombs.
His patient ministry brought thousands of criminals to Christ — or back to Christ. But perhaps his most spectacular work was with the notorious international murderer and thief Albert Hicks. Hicks was under a death sentence, but he went to the gallows after having returned to Christ by the hands and through the ministry of Father Hicks.
Listen to the entire episode: https://americancatholichistory.org/father-henry-duranquet-sj-apostle-to-the-tombs/
In 1620, the year the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, a Spanish nun began to appear to the Jumano people of west central Texas. The Spanish nun, Sister Maria de Jesus de Agreda, was a mystic who never left her monastery in Spain, but through the spiritual gift of bi-location visited the Jumano people more than 500 times between 1620 and 1631. After she’d evangelized the Jumano for eleven years she sent them to the Franciscan missionaries who had come to New Mexico. When the Franciscans came to the Jumano village near present-day San Angelo, Texas, they examined and baptized 2,000 Jumanos whom they found to be very knowledgeable in the faith.
Catholics have had a tremendous impact on American food from the beginning. The Franciscan friars in the California missions brought wine making. Those same friars also invented a delicious cheese that we now know as Monterey Jack. In Louisiana the French, African, and Acadian peoples who settled the land developed cajun and creole food. In Cincinnati, Ohio a Catholic businessman convinced Ray Kroc to make the Filet-o-Fish a staple of the McDonald’s menu. In West Virginia the pepperoni roll became a hugely popular quick and easy meal for miners. And in Michigan, locals received permission to eat muskrat as a source of protein on Fridays.
Maronite Catholics maintain one of the most ancient traditions within the Catholic Church. They are originally from the southern edge of Asia Minor, and lived in relative peace for many centuries in the mountains of Lebanon. But civil wars forced many to flee. During this time of upheaval, the devotion to Our Lady of Lebanon resulted in a massive and important shrine being built in Harissa, Lebanon, just northeast of the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Maronites first came to America beginning in the late 1800s, settling wherever they could find jobs. During those years that often meant the steel cities of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Birmingham, Alabama, and Youngstown, Ohio. In the 1960s, a replica of the original shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon was built in rural northeast Ohio, just outside of Youngstown. That shrine, and its associated basilica, are a major site of pilgrimage every year for Maronites from across the U.S.
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We'd love to share a drink with any listeners in Louisville area tonight!
We're in Kentucky preparing for our second Pilgrimage to the Kentucky Holy Land and Bourbon Country. We'll be at Doc Crow's Smokehouse and Raw Bar tonight at 8 p.m. to meet up with listeners — let us know if we can expect to see you there!
We'll be in Louisville, Kentucky this coming Saturday evening, August 5, as we prepare to lead our Pilgrimage to the Kentucky Holy Land and Bourbon Country next week. Join us at Doc Crow's at 127 W. Main Street, downtown Louisville, at 8 p.m.
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Did you know that Catholics first arrived on these American shores, and offered the first Mass here, four years before Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation?
Did you know that the first name a European gave to the Mississippi River was "Rio del Espiritu Santo," or "River of the Holy Spirit"?
Did you know that Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence, was the wealthiest man in the colonies at the time? Or that the growth of the Church in this country owes a lot to the French Revolution and other European wars that drove Catholics — priests, bishops, religious, and laity — across the ocean for safe haven?
The history of Catholics on these American shores is far more interesting, inspiring, and all-encompassing than you probably realize.
Join us to learn so much more about the amazing men and women who gave of themselves for love of Christ to bring the Faith to these American shores.
Through our regular podcast, plus ...