Patrick John Ryan

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Patrick John Ryan
Archbishop Patrick John Ryan.jpg
Born (1831-02-20)February 20, 1831
Died February 11, 1911(1911-02-11) (aged 79)
Alma mater Carlow College

Patrick John Ryan (February 20, 1831 – February 11, 1911) was an Irish-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Philadelphia from 1884 until his death in 1911.

Early life and education[edit]

Patrick Ryan was born in Thurles, County Tipperary, to Jeremiah and Mary Ryan.[1] He received his early education from the Christian Brothers at Thurles, and attended a private school in Dublin from 1842 to 1847.[2] In 1844, he led a delegation of students to Richmond Bridewell Prison, where he delivered an address to the imprisoned Daniel O'Connell.[2] He completed his theological studies at Carlow College in 1852, his education supported by The Foreign Mission Fund, and was ordained a subdeacon.[1] In the same year he left Ireland to come to the United States, where he became attached to the Archdiocese of St. Louis in Missouri.[2] He then served as a professor of English literature at the seminary in Carondelet for a year.[1]


Ryan was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick on September 8, 1853.[3] At age 21, he was below the age requirement for ordination but was granted a dispensation by Pope Pius IX.[2] He was then appointed an assistant rector at the Cathedral of St. Louis, and was advanced to rector in 1856.[1] In 1860, he was named pastor of the Church of the Annunciation in St. Louis, where he built a church and parochial school.[2] During the Civil War, he served as a chaplain at the Gratiot Street Prison.[2] Following the war, he was transferred to St. John's Church in St. Louis, and accompanied Archbishop Kenrick to the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1866.[2] While on a visit to Europe in 1868, he delivered the English course of Lenten lectures in Rome at the invitation of Pius IX.[1] Upon his return to St. Louis later that year, he was made vicar general of the Archdiocese.[1] He administered the Archdiocese while Archbishop Kenrick attended the First Vatican Council.[2]


On February 15, 1872, Ryan was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of St. Louis and Titular Archbishop of Tricomia by Pius IX.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on the following April 14 from Archbishop Kenrick, with Archbishop Patrick Feehan and Bishop Joseph Melcher serving as co-consecrators.[3] His titular see was changed to Salamis on January 6, 1884.[2] After the death of Archbishop James Frederick Wood, Ryan was named the second Archbishop of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 8, 1884.[3] His installation took place at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul on the following August 20.[3]

During his 27-year-long tenure, Ryan erected 170 churches and 82 schools; increased the number of priests by 322 and nuns by 1,545; and oversaw a rise in the Catholic population from 300,000 to 525,000.[2] During that time also the Roman Catholic High School for Boys was built, and put in operation; high school centers for girls taught by the different communities were established; a new central high school for girls was partly endowed and begun; St. Francis' Industrial School for Boys was endowed and successfully operated, the Philadelphia Protectory for Boys was erected; St. Joseph's Home for Working Boys was founded; a new foundling asylum and maternity hospital was built; a new St. Vincent's Home for younger orphan children was purchased with the archbishop's Golden Jubilee Fund of $200,000; a third Home for the Aged was erected; a Memorial Library Building, dedicated to the Archbishop, was begun at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Overbrook; and the three Catholic hospitals of the city doubled their capacity. He also established foreign churches in the diocese for the Italians, Poles, Greeks, Slovaks, Lithuanians, and several other nationalities. He founded two congregations for African Americans, and was appointed to the U.S. Indian Commission by President Theodore Roosevelt.[2] In 1888, he again visited Rome, where he preached the sermon at the laying of the cornerstone of St. Patrick's Church and presented Pope Leo XIII with a gift from President Grover Cleveland.[1]

Ryan died at age 79, nine days before his eightieth birthday.

A new biography of Archbishop Ryan was published in 2010, see Thurles Books


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Johnson, Rossiter, ed. (1904). The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans IX. John Howard Brown. Boston: The Biographical Society. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Patrick John Ryan". Catholic Encyclopedia. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Archbishop Patrick John Ryan". 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
James Frederick Bryan Wood
Archbishop of Philadelphia
June 8, 1884 – February 11, 1911
Succeeded by
Edmond Francis Prendergast