Francis Kenrick

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The Most Reverend
Francis Patrick Kenrick
Archbishop of Baltimore
See Baltimore
Installed 9 October 1851
Term ended 8 July 1863
Predecessor Samuel Eccleston, S.S.
Successor Martin John Spalding
Other posts Bishop of Philadelphia (1842-51)
Ordination 7 April 1821
by Archbishop Candido Maria Frattini
Consecration 10 June 1831
Personal details
Born (1797-12-03)3 December 1797
Dublin, Ireland
Died 8 July 1863(1863-07-08) (aged 65)
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Denomination Roman Catholic Church

Francis Patrick Kenrick (3 December 1796 – 8 July 1863) was an Irish-born clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as the third Bishop of Philadelphia (1842–1851) and the sixth Archbishop of Baltimore (1851–1863).

Early life and education[edit]

Francis Kenrick was born in Dublin to Thomas and Jane (née Eustace) Kenrick.[1] His younger brother, Peter Richard Kenrick, would later become the first Archbishop of St. Louis.[2] His uncle was the pastor of St. Nicholas of Myra Church in Dublin, and took an active role in his education.[2][3] At the age of eighteen, he was selected to study at the Urban College of Propaganda in Rome, where he became a distinguished student.[3] He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Candido Maria Frattini on 7 April 1821.[4]


Shortly after his ordination, Kenrick accepted an invitation from Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget, S.S., to join the Diocese of Bardstown, Kentucky, in the United States.[1] He then held the chair of theology at St. Thomas Seminary for nine years, in addition to teaching Greek and history at St. Joseph's College.[2] Apart from his academic duties, he also engaged in missionary work; he facilitated several conversions and publicly debated with Protestant ministers.[3] He earned a reputation as an eloquent preacher and effective apologist, and was a recognized theologian and scripture scholar.[1]

Kenrick was later made private secretary to Flaget, whom he accompanied to the First Provincial Council of Baltimore in 1829 as his personal theologian.[1] He also served as an assistant secretary of the Council.[3]

Episcopal ministry[edit]


On 25 February 1830, Kenrick was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Titular Bishop of Arath by Pope Pius VIII.[4] He received his episcopal consecration on the following 6 June from Flaget, with Bishops Henry Conwell and John Baptist Mary David, S.S., serving as co-consecrators, in Bardstown.[4] Kenrick assumed full administrative powers from the aged Bishop Conwell, whose tenure had been plagued by a public feud with a schismatic priest named William Hogan.[2] Immediately upon his arrival, he also became engaged in the long-running dispute between episcopal authority and the lay trustees of St. Mary's Church.[3] The trustees eventually conceded their struggle for power after Kenrick placed St. Mary's Cathedral under interdict.[3] He also placed all church property in the name of the bishop instead of those of the trustees.[2]

In 1832, Kenrick founded St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, which was originally located at his personal residence.[3] That same year an outbreak of cholera took place in Philadelphia, and Kenrick led the local Catholic clergy and Religious Sisters in ministering to the sick; his efforts were publicly recognized by Mayor John Swift.[2] He successfully petitioned the Holy See to separate Western Pennsylvania into a new diocese, and the Diocese of Pittsburgh was established in 1836; Kenrick was initially considered for the new diocese as well as for coadjutor bishop of New York, but withdrew his candidacy.[3]

Kenrick succeeded Conwell as the third Bishop of Philadelphia upon the latter's death on 22 April 1842.[4] His tenure was particularly marked by the 1844 Philadelphia Nativist Riots, a series of riots resulting from increasing anti-Catholic sentiment at the growing population of Irish Catholic immigrants.[2] Throughout the violence, Kenrick encouraged Catholics "to follow peace and have charity."[3] He also closed all Catholic churches and ordered the suspension of all Masses until the riots were brought to a halt by military force.[2] Between 1830 to 1850, the number of churches in the diocese grew from 22 to 92; priests from 35 to 101; charitable institutions from two to six; and the Catholic population from 35,000 to 170,000.[1] He also began construction on the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.[3]

Influenced by the work of his contemporary, an English priest named John Lingard, Kenrick published his own translation of the four Gospels in 1849; he eventually translated the entire Bible, as a new revision of the Douay-Rheims Bible.[2]


Following the death of Archbishop Samuel Eccleston, S.S., Kenrick was named the sixth Archbishop of Baltimore, Maryland, by Pope Pius IX on 19 August 1851.[4] His installation took place on the following 9 October.[4] He presided over the First Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1852.[1] In 1854, he was invited by Pius IX to attend the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in Rome.[2] In 1858, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, with the approval of Pius IX, conferred a "prerogative of place" on the Archbishop of Baltimore over all archbishops and bishops in the United States, regardless of seniority in promotion or ordination.[3]

Kenrick was greatly troubled by the outbreak of the Civil War, which is believed to have contributed to his sudden death at age 66.[2][3]


  • Parts of Francis Kenrick's Bible Translation
  • Marschall, John P.,Francis Patrick Kenrick, 1851-1863: The Baltimore Years (Ph.D. diss., Catholic University of America, 1965)
  • Spalding, Thomas W. The Premier See: A History of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, 1789-1989. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Most Rev. Francis Patrick Kenrick". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Francis Patrick and Peter Richard Kenrick". Catholic Encyclopedia. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Clarke, Richard Henry (1888). Lives of the Deceased Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States. New York. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Archbishop Francis Patrick Kenrick". 


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Henry Conwell
Bishop of Philadelphia
April 22, 1842 – August 19, 1851
Succeeded by
John Nepomucene Neumann, C.Ss.R.
Preceded by
Samuel Eccleston, S.S.
Archbishop of Baltimore
August 19, 1851 – July 8, 1863
Succeeded by
Martin John Spalding