societies of St. Augustine's, St.
Philomena's, St. Mary's, Forty-sixth Street and of St. Mary's,
Sharpsburg, assembled at the cathedral and escorted the Bishop to the
church. Each society displayed its own banner and marched to the tune
of its own band. Despite a drenching rain, the parade moved resolutely
to St. Augustine's where a vast throng had assembled. The ceremony
began with the blessing of the church and continued with Pontifical
Mass. The Capuchin Fathers, Felix Maria and Maurice, assisted as deacon
and subdeacon of the Mass, and Fathers A. P. Gibbs(18) of St. Mary's,
Forty-sixth Street, and Nilus, C.P., of the Passionist Monastery, were
deacons of honor. Father William Löwekamp, C.SS.R., of St.
Philomena's was assistant priest, and Father Sebastian Arnold, O.S.B.,
and Father Matthew Hau, O.M.Cap., were masters of ceremonies. The
following assisted in the sanctuary: Fathers S. G. Mollinger(19) of
Troy Hill, Joseph Strub, C.S.Sp., F. Faessler of London, England,
assistant at Holy Trinity, Riceville, Hyacinth Epp, O.M.Cap., and
Joseph Calasance Mayershofer, O.M.Cap.,
Father Joseph Strub, Superior of the Holy Ghost Fathers,
delivered the German sermon on the dignity and benefit of the Catholic
Church. After the Mass the Bishop in full Pontificals and sitting at
the altar spoke in English, congratulating the people for their fine
spirit of co-operation and urging them to correspond to the graces of
which this church would be the fruitful source. In the afternoon the
Bishop pontificated at Vespers and confirmed seventy-four persons. The
choir on this occasion was directed by Mr. Aloysius Frauenheim.(20)
Now that the church was enlarged, the parishioners had plenty of
room since it had a capacity of one thousand. Although not purely
Romanesque, the building had a devotional and attractive appearance.
Exclusive of furnishings, the addition cost $30,000. This increased the
church debt at the end of 1875 to $52,515.50. Between August 18 and 25,
1875, Father Hyacinth had taken up a house collection which netted
$4,500. A fair from December 17-January 9, brought $4,309.19. These two
items plus the $3,000 donated by the Capuchins for the remodeling of
their friary, amounted to $11,809.19. The rest of the expense for the
transepts was met by loans. Brother Eleutherius drew all plans for the
building and carved the altar, pulpit and communion rail. His work was
valued at $4,000 and was donated by the Capuchin Fathers. Moreover, in
order to aid in liquidating the debt and to induce others to
generosity, Father Hyacinth reduced the pastor's salary by three
hundred dollars yearly for the space of four years. In this period he
saved the parish $1,200. (21)
After the remodelling, St. Augustine's was considered one of the
finest churches in Pittsburgh. The interior was frescoed by
(18) Andrew Patrick Gibbs, born in Queens County, Ireland, 1815. Came
to America in 1839. Ordained Sept., 20, 1840, by Bishop Kenrick in
Philadelphia. Exercised the ministry in Western Pennsylvania,
especially in Allegheny and Cambria Countries. Organized St. Mary's
Parish, on Forty-sixth Street in 1853. Spent more than thirty-two years
in this parish and died there on July 19, 1885. Lambing, "Necrology of
the Diocese of Pittsburgh" in Cath.
, Vol. II, Pittsburgh, 1886, p. 102; Souvenir of the Seventy-fifth
Anniversary of the Foundation of St. Mary's Church, Forty-sixth Street,
, May, 1854-May, 1929, pp. 6, 12, 25.
Lambing, Foundation Stones
180, 183-184; Church in Pittsburgh
, pp. 110-112, 218, 219, 331; Souvenir of the Diamond Jubilee and
History of St. Augustine's Church, Cambria Co.
, 1922, pp. 52,
68-69. On Rev. Fathers: Löewekamp, Arnold, Savelsberger, Cf.
Enzlberger's Schematismus, 1892. pp. 267, 90, 88;
On Rev. Strub see Hoffmann's Cath.
, Milwaukee, 1891, pp. 39, 40 Rev. Suitbert G.
Mollinger, born at Malines, Belgium. May 29, 1830. Came to the United
States in June, 1850. Ordained at Erie on April 30, 1859. Rector of
Holy Name Church from 1868-1892. Died June 15, 1892. Founded St.
Anthony's Chapel, Troy Hill. "He became widely known for performing
many miraculous cures both by medicine and by a relic of St. Anthony of
Padua." Hoffmann's Directory
Milwaukee, 1893, p. 36. See also Enzlberger, op. cit., 241;
Fussenegger, Sixtieth Anniversary of
Most Holy Name Church, Troy Hill
, pp. 35-37.
(19) Lambing, Foundation Stones
(20) Die Stimme der Wahrheit,
founded at Detroit in 1875. First editor, Mr.
John B. Mueller, published the second Schematismus
(21) St. Aug.
, August, 1924,
Mr. Adolph Stübner. The organ was rebuilt by Mr. Felix Barkhoff
who added new stops and bellows. Especially attractive was the high
altar carved by Brother Eleutherius, and which Mr. Titus Berger, in Die Stimme der Wahrheit
of the World, yet "the most beautiful in the city." The good Brother
had set himself the ambitious task of carving five altars and a pulpit
for the "new" church. However, the pulpit alone was finished for the
dedication while the high altar and the Blessed Virgin's altar were
installed in the course of the year. The other three altars the good
Brother did not live to finish for he died at the youthful age of
thirty-eight on June 18, 1877, a victim of the smallpox. Brother
Eleutherius was the first of the three pioneers of the Pennsylvania
Capuchins to depart this life. He is buried in the priest's plot in St.
Mary's Cemetery. The people of St. Augustine's mourned his untimely
passing and in gratitude for his many artistic contributions to their
church took up a collection for his tombstone and had Requiem Masses
sung at St. Augustine's. Die Stimme
(23) carried the following notice of the Brother's
On June 18, the Capuchin Fathers
of St. Augustine's Church in Lawrenceville suffered a great loss. The
Ven. Brother Eleutherius Guggenbichler, known as an excellent wood
carver and builder of altars, died after an illness of only ten days of
smallpox. On June 19 he was buried. Brother Eleutherius was born March
27, 1839, at Reichenhall in Bavaria, and had made his religious
profession November 8, 1862. The Brother was about to be sent to St.
Mary's Monastery, Summit, Butler County, by the Commissary, Father
Hyacinth, to assist in building the choir for which he had already made
the drawing. The Brother was just working on the new St. Joseph's altar
of St. Augustine's Church when he took sick. The premature death of the
zealous Brother, who was known as a skillful builder of altars and had
done much carving work for the St. Augustine Church, is a great loss to
the good Fathers.
In 1877, the church was enriched with four new bells. In a
meeting with the committee of July 15, the pastor had reported that a
member of the parish had offered to donate the price of one large bell
provided that others contribute the fund for other bells. Almost
immediately the donors appeared and four bells were purchased. The
largest bell weighing 1,743 Ibs., and costing $435.75 was the gift of
Messrs. Edward Frauenheim and Leopold Vilsack; the second weighing 866
lbs., and costing $216.50, was donated by Mr. John Stumbilling; the
third, with a weight of 462 lbs., and costing $115.50, was presented by
Mrs. Rose Helbling, and the fourth of 213 lbs., costing $53.25, was
given by Mr. William Helbling and his sister, Mrs. Mary Spahn.(24)
Bishop Tuigg solemnly blessed the bells on September 16, 1877. The
sermon was delivered by Father Aloysius Hune of East Liberty.(25)
On the occasion of their dedication an order of ringing
the bells was established which has been maintained for more than half
a century. Three times daily the Angelus is rung with the addition of
a shorter ring after the evening Angelus to commemorate the departed
souls. A half hour before any service one bell rings and at the time of
the service three or on solemn occasions all four bells ring. When a
man of the parish dies one of the larger bells rings for several
minutes with two short pauses, while for a woman's death just one pause
is made. In case a child's death, a smaller bell announces it to the
parish. In this way those within hearing distance are informed that a
fellow-parishioner has passed from this life and that prayers should be
offered for the repose of the soul. Again, on Thursday evenings after
the Angelus the large bell sends forth its mournful reminder of the
Lord's agony as on Friday at three o'clock the same bell tells of the
Lord's death. Many, indeed, must be the graces won for souls through
the bells of St. Augustine's.
Having enlarged the church, Father Hyacinth turned his attention
to the needs of the school. The efficiency of the Sisters had become
better known and many children hitherto attending the public schools
(22) Nov. 12, 1875; St. Aug., July, 1923, p. 102.
(23) Undated excerpt found in scrapbook in parish archives.
(24) Hyacinth pp, MS., II Abschnitt, p. 106.
(25) St. Aug.
, Nov., 1923, p.
177; On Rev. A. Hune, see Lambing, Church,
, p. 177; Suehr, A
Short History of Sts. Peter and Paul's
Church, E. E., Pittsburgh
, 1909, pp. 20, 21.
admission to the parochial school. Soon it became necessary to start a
fifth and a sixth grade and, crude as it may seem, a stable facing
Church Alley was renovated and made to serve as a school room. But as
the number of applicants continued to increase, it became evident that
in the not too distant future, additional provision would be necessary.
Happily across the street the Teese property, with a brick house and
two contiguous lots, was for sale and the pastor purchased this
property in the spring of 1876. The cost was $6,500. The brick house
was repaired for the Sisters who took up residence on May 31, 1876.
This convent was not at all adequate for the Sisters- Besides
the kitchen, there were just six small rooms, one of which had been
turned into a chapel. Nevertheless, the six sisters bore the
inconvenience until 1879, when better provision was made for them. In
the latter year the need of more school rooms became more imperative.
Accordingly, a brick building measuring 90 by 40, the present Casino
building, was erected on the ground purchased from the Teese family in
1876. The old Announcement Book of 1879 mentions on August 10 the
following reasons for building at that particular time:
1. To give
the parish its own hall for holding better-paying entertainments,
for until now the rents for other halls have been very high.
2. To supply several needed school-rooms. The school is too
small, but in this way we can meet the needs without building a
Building material was low at the time, hence it was possible to
erect the building for little more than $8,000.00. Toward the end of
autumn this combination building was finished and put to use. The first
floor was the parish hall while in the upper story two rooms became
classrooms and two other rooms were fitted out as chapel and dormitory
for the Sisters. In this way school and convent problems were at least
Father Hyacinth took the greatest interest in the school for he
realized that the personal touch of the priest with the individual
pupil made for the strengthening and propagating of the faith. Hence,
he wanted the parents to be interested in the school and in the
progress of their children in both religious and profane instruction.
Once a year he invited the parents to attend a public examination of
the pupils and insisted on all pupils attending the catechetical
instruction until their sixteenth year. This instruction was given in
the church every Sunday before the Vespers. The old Announcement Books
contain many references to the obligation of parents to send their
children regularly to the catechetical hour and more than once the
threat is made to publish from the pulpit the names of delinquent
No less zealous was the pastor for the instruction and culture
of the parish as a whole- We have mentioned the introduction of the
Third Order which was to recruit its members from the entire parish.
Then, in 1875, and 1876, the pastor assigned four Sunday afternoons of
the month for special conferences for men and women both married and
unmarried. As early as 1881, the Knights of St. George, a beneficial
society, was introduced and recommended to the men of the parish.
Realizing the benefit of the Catholic Press, Father Hyacinth called
meetings and urged the parishioners to buy stock in the projected
German Catholic Newspaper under the auspices of the German Catholic
Press Association. Shortly after, when the Pittsburgher Beobachter
received its charter, he urged every Catholic family to subscribe.
Since St. Augustine's continued to be the headquarters of the
Pennsylvania Capuchins, the personnel of the friary was steadily
increased from abroad. For the first decade the Mother Province in
Bavaria continued to send a few priests and brothers to the American
Mission. In 1876, two deacons, Fr. Joseph Anthony Ziegelmayer, and Fr.
Anastasius Mueller, arrived and were ordained to the priesthood by the
Most Rev. Bishop J. Tuigg in St. Paul's Cathedral on September 23,
1876. Father Joseph Anthony sang his first solemn Mass at St.
Augustine's on September 24. Father Anastasius celebrated at St. Mary's
Herman on the same
(26) Hyacinth Epp, MS., II Abschnitt, p. 104; Seraphscher Kinderfreund
pp. 23-25; 45-46.
(27) Published first as a Catholic daily in
1880. Mr. Charles J. Jaegle editor.
Later reduced to SL weekly and suspended altogether in April,
1923. Enzlberger's Schematismus
day. Other Capuchin Fathers arrived later, singing their
first solemn Masses at St. Augustine's, viz.: Fathers Anthony Berger
and Didacus Rottlaender on May 23, 1880, and Angelus Baumgartner on
July 24, 1881.
Most of these Fathers busied themselves at least for a time at
St. Augustine's, or in other parishes of the city.(28) Thus from
1874-1877, one of the Capuchin Fathers was acting pastor of St.
Joseph's Bloomfield. For a time in 1878 one of them was chaplain at St.
Joseph's Orphanage, Troy Hill. The Fathers also, taught Latin and other
branches to boys showing an inclination to the priesthood, especially
in the Capuchin Order. From these classes the St. Fidelis Seminary
developed. Mr. August Haas, the later Father Mark Haas, O.M.Cap., and
the first son of the parish to become a Capuchin priest, profited in
this way. On June 25, 1878, he was invested with the tertiary habit and
sent to the Herman friary to begin his theological studies. The lay
brothers, too, worked in behalf of the parish. Besides the carving
performed by several, they were active as sacristans and in 1881
Brother Arsenius was the organist.
Scanning the old chronicles of the parish we find several items
that throw interesting sidelights on the customs of those days. Take,
for instance, the requirements prescribed by Bishop Domenec for gaining
the jubilee indulgences of 1875. From October 3-17, special devotions
were to be held in the churches. During that period twenty sermons were
preached at St. Augustine's by five of the local Capuchins and one
sermon on the Mother of God was delivered by the Jesuit, Father George
Hieber. On the day of the solemn close more than 1,000 communions were
distributed. In order to gain the Indulgence, sixty visits, fifteen to
each of the following churches were prescribed: the Cathedral, St.
Philomena's, Holy Trinity, Riceville, and St. Mary's, Allegheny. By
visiting all four churches in one day it would take fifteen days to
gain the indulgence. Keeping in mind the distance separating these four
churches and the slowness of transportation in those days, one can
appreciate the extraordinary hardships attached to gaining the
Indulgence. Even today when distance is no consideration, it is
questionable whether these requirements would find so ready a response
as they did among the Catholics of a half century ago.(29)
Remarkable, too, was the stricter observance of Lent in those
days. In addition to the restriction as to quality of food, no meat was
permitted on the four last days of Holy Week. Again, the time for
performing the Easter Duty extended only to the second Sunday after
On July 4, 1876, the centenary of the Declaration of
Independence was observed by special services prescribed by the Bishop.
In announcing this celebration to the people Father Hyacinth said: "We
Catholics have special reason to thank God for the religious freedom
which we enjoy."(30) These words had more than ordinary significance on
the lips of the Capuchins practically driven from their homeland
because of persecution.
A clipping from The
, undated but referring to the children's
picnic on Thursday, July 6, 1876, gives an edifying and human picture
of the occasion:
The basket picnic arranged for
the children of the school at Steeb's Grove, Thursday, July 6, was a
pleasant affair throughout. The Rev. Fathers Hyacinth, Maurice and
Felix Maria were present from the start. Fr. Joseph appeared later in
the day. Fr. Maurice was the life and fun of the occasion and was
constantly surrounded by the children, forming a striking illustration
of our Divine Lord's beautiful words: "Suffer the little children to
come unto me." The refreshments were in charge of our genial friend,
Titus Berger who left nothing undone to appease the hunger and quench
the thirst of the little ones. It is to be regretted that the
management was not prepared to accommodate the grown folks, of whom
quite a number were present, to witness the sport. All such games in
which children's hearts delight were provided for them and when they
had tired, the Messrs. Frauenheim, Vilsack and Smith Co.. kindly
furnished their wagons to take them home, for which act they deserve
Here it may be interesting to recall with Father Hyacinth those
days of terror,
(28) Seraphischer Kinderfreund
(29) Hyacinth Epp, MS., II Abschnitt, p. 104.
(30) Announcement Book
2, 1876, Fourth Sunday after Pentecost. St. Aug.
, August, 1923, p. 129.
(31) St. Aug.
, August, 1923,
July 21 and 22, 1877, when the striking employees of the Pennsylvania
Railroad led a riot in Lawrenceville. The authorities had ordered out
the militia to protect the railroad property and to preserve order. The
mob, however, attacked the militia and forced a retreat toward the
arsenal. In the fray Mr. William Gottschalk, a parishioner of St.
Augustine's was fatally shot as he sat at his door, and one of the
soldiers was seriously wounded in front of St. Augustine's Church on
Butler Street. The wounded soldier was hurried through the church into
the monastery where the friars provided medical aid and hurried him off
to St. Francis Hospital. The wounded man became a convert of the
Fathers and recovered. It is said that the mob tried to gain entrance
to the monastery to kill the soldier but was repulsed by the appearance
of Father Maurice Greek, O.M.Cap., a former officer of the German army,
who appeared in the doorway and in stentorian language ordered the
rioters to depart. At the time of the shooting Father Felix was
approaching the altar for the 7:30 Mass but had to retire at once as
the congregation, composed largely of Christian Mothers who were to
receive communion in a body, was panic-stricken and rushed through the
sanctuary into the monastery. During this and succeeding riots a total
of thirty persons were killed and property destroyed to the extent of
Father Hyacinth continued as pastor till August, 1881, when he
was succeeded by Father Maurice Greek, O.M.Cap. Since it was customary
for the Capuchins to change the Guardian or Superior of the friary
every three years, and since the office of pastor was usually united
with that of Superior, we must from now on expect a new pastor every
three years. Father Maurice was born at Fristingen, Bavaria, on April
3, 1843, and entered the Capuchin Order in 1869. He was ordained in
Dillingen on August 10, 1871, and arrived in America on May 1,
1874.(33) With an eye to future building the new pastor purchased the
Schlipp property opposite the parish house for $2,000 in 1882. He also
renovated the fresco work in the church for the sum of $1,450. In 1884
he erected a new iron fence on the top of the wall on Butler Street.
Under Father Maurice three Franciscans from the Sacred Heart Province,
Fathers Vincent Halbfas, Augustine Henseler and Felix Hosbach, preached
a mission from February 22-March 5, 1882. To commemorate the
canonization of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, a Capuchin priest and General
of the Order, a triduum was preached from November 26-28, 1882. On
August 24, 1884, the Rev. Francis Joseph Bauer, whose parents lived in
the parish, sang his first solemn Mass. Father Michael, O.S.B.,
preached the sermon.
The successor of Father Maurice was Father Felix Maria Lex,
O.M.Cap., who came into office in August, 1884 and continued until
August, 1887. Father Felix was born at Zill, a frontier town of the
Bavarian Alps, on April 21, 1833, and took his solemn vows in the
Capuchin Order in the friary at Burghausen on December 8, 1855. He was
ordained on August 8, 1857, and labored zealously in the Bavarian
Province until 1875 when he joined his brethren in the American Mission.
Father Felix was well known and loved when he became pastor in
1884. For some years previous he had worked in St. Augustine's as
curate and had taken great interest in the Women's Conference
established as early as 1864. Desirous of enriching the Conference with
indulgences and thus increasing its appeal to all Catholic mothers, he
succeeded in 1881 through the good office of the General Secretary of
the Propaganda, Rev. Ignatius Persico, the later Capuchin Cardinal, in
having the Women's Conference raised to the dignity of an
Archcon fraternity with power to affiliate confraternities in all the
dioceses of North America.
It was also while curate at St. Augustine's that Father Felix
received into the church Baron Frederick von Gagern, the brother or at
least near relative of the celebrated Austrian statesman and convert,
Maximilian Baron von Gagern. While still laboring in Aschaffenburg,
Bavaria, Friar Felix had
(32) Kinderfreund, IX, pp. 223-224.
(33) Sigmund Cratz, O.M.Cap., Hist.
of St. Mary's Church, Herman, Pa.
, p. 53; Enzlberger, op. cit.
, p. 135. Catalogus Capucinorum Provinciae
, Summit (Herman, Pa.) 1898, pp. 20, 21.