John F. Noll

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John Francis Noll (January 25, 1875 – July 31, 1956) was a Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne from 1925 until his death in 1956.[1] He was a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and one of nineteen children. John Noll attended St. Lawrence Seminary in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin from 1888 to 1893. He was ordained a priest in 1898. Father Noll was the Father of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Huntington, Indiana. His life was notable for four main reasons; he was the founder of the newspaper Our Sunday Visitor; Pope Pius XII elevated him to archbishop in 1953, despite the fact that he never headed an archdiocese; he was instrumental in generating support for construction of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington, D.C.; as a young priest, he sometimes confronted people who claimed to expose evil practices within the Catholic Church. He would ask the alleged former priest or nun to which order he or she belonged, and to recite specific prayers, some questions were posed in Latin. In this way he exposed the speakers as simple anti-Catholic rabble rousers.

Noll wrote a best-selling book of catechesis, Father Smith Instructs Jackson, which is still in print.[2]

Sister Maria Stanisia painted a portrait of Noll and the Bishop Noll Institute is named in his honor.


  1. ^ John Francis Noll
  2. ^ Noll, John Francis. Father Smith Instructs Jackson: Centennial Edition. Our Sunday Visitor, 2009. ISBN 978-1-59276-445-7

As a note of historical coincidence - the Catholic publication "Our Sunday Visitor" was created in 1913 by Father John Francis Noll who did the writing and John Francis Wolter who did the printing. Fr. Noll later became the Bishop of the Ft. Wayne, Indiana Diocese, and for 50 years, John Wolter ran the printing operations of the Our Sunday Visitor press which eventually grew to publish and distributed 5-million copies of OSV each week. The printing operations grew to cover nearly a full city block of Huntington. At its peak, OSV employed 500 of Huntington's workforce. Bishop Noll died in the mid-1950s and John F. Wolter died in 1964, having printed the OSV for 50 years before retiring in 1963. (8/30/2014: James F. Wolter, grandson of John F. Wolter)

  • Stromberg, J. 2006. The Story of Archbishop John Noll, Founder of "Our Sunday Visitor". Catholic Parent, July/August 2006, pp. 18–22.