Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville

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Archdiocese of Louisville
Archidioecesis Ludovicopolitana
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville.svg
Country United States
Territory Central Kentucky
Ecclesiastical province Archdiocese of Louisville
Metropolitan Louisville, Kentucky
- Catholics

218,000 (17.7%)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Roman Rite
Established April 8, 1808
Cathedral Cathedral of the Assumption
Patron saint

Saint Joseph

  • Joseph the Betrothed
  • Joseph the Worker
Current leadership
Pope Francis

Joseph Edward Kurtz

Archbishop of Louisville
Archdiocese of Louisville.jpg
Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville consists of twenty-four counties in central Kentucky, US, covering 8,124 square miles (21,040 km2). It is the seat of the Metropolitan Province of Louisville, which comprises the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. The cathedral church of the archdiocese is the Cathedral of the Assumption.


The Diocese began in 1808 when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bardstown centered in Bardstown, Kentucky, which was then a thriving frontier settlement. It was established along with the dioceses of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia by Pope Pius VII, (1742-1823, served 1800-1823), out of the territory of the Diocese of Baltimore, the first Catholic diocese in the United States, which was first "erected" (established) in 1789 with the first bishop in the U.S.A., John Carroll, who was ordained/consecrated in Britain in 1790. Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the U.S. in April 2008 celebrated the 200th anniversary of the creation of these wider dioceses and the elevation of Baltimore to an archdiocese (known as "The Premier See"). When founded, the Bardstown Diocese included most of the new states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan - the western territories of America to the Mississippi River and the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

While Louisville is the oldest inland diocese in the United States, it is not the oldest west of the Appalachians. That distinction belongs to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans founded under Spanish rule in 1793, and which territory as part of the Louisiana Purchase became a part of the U.S.A. in 1803, and Louisiana admitted as a state in 1812.

Benedict Joseph Flaget was the first Bishop of Bardstown. The historic Basilica of Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral, the former cathedral of the Diocese of Bardstown, is now a parish church, and a national historic site.

While the French may have had initial influence in the formation of the Roman Catholic community in the Louisville area, eventually immigrants from Germany comprised the bulk of the Archdiocese's communicant strength later in the mid-19th century, particularly in the city of Louisville. However, much of the Catholic population in areas southeast of Louisville is of English extraction, consisting of descendants of recusants who originally settled in Maryland in colonial times.

In 1841, the diocese was moved from Bardstown to Louisville, becoming the Diocese of Louisville. The Diocese of Louisville was elevated in 1937 to become the Archdiocese of Louisville, and the "metropolitan" (supervising) province for all the dioceses in Kentucky and Tennessee with an Archbishop of Louisville. There are currently three deaneries: Elizabethtown, Lebanon, and Bardstown.


The archdiocese contains 200,000 Catholics in 66,000 households, served by one hundred twenty-two parishes and missions. One half of all Catholics in the Commonwealth reside within the bounds of the Archdiocese of Louisville, and seventy-nine percent of all Catholics in the archdiocese (forty percent of all Catholics in the Commonwealth) reside in the Louisville Metro area. There are fifty-nine Catholic elementary and high schools serving more than 23,400 students. The archdiocese is home to one hundred sixty-six diocesan priests, one hundred twelve permanent deacons, fifty-two religious institute priests, seventy-seven religious brothers, and nine hundred forty-four religious sisters. The archdiocese serves more than 220,000 persons in Catholic hospitals, health care centers, homes for the aged, and specialized homes. Services, mother-infant care program, senior social services, and rural ministries services.

St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral

Sex abuse scandal[edit]

In 2003, the Archdiocese of Louisville paid $25.7 million directly from its own assets to settle claims of sexual abuse by its clergy. Reports of abuse extended back to the 1940s, were alleged to have continued to 1997, and involved 34 priests, 2 religious brothers, and 3 lay people.[1]

Archbishops and bishops[edit]

The lists of ordinaries and their years of service:


  1. Benedict Joseph Flaget P.S.S. (1808–1832) resigned
  2. John Baptist Mary David P.S.S. (1832–1833) succeeded
  3. Benedict Joseph Flaget P.S.S. (1833–1850) died
  4. Martin John Spalding (1850–1864) appointed Archbishop of Baltimore
  5. Peter Joseph Lavialle (1865–1867) died
  6. William George McCloskey (1868–1909) died
  7. Denis O'Donaghue (1910–1924) retired
  8. John Alexander Floersh (1924–1937) elevated to Archbishop


  1. John Alexander Floersh (1937–1967) retired
  2. Thomas Joseph McDonough (1967–1981) resigned
  3. Thomas Cajetan Kelly O.P (1981–2007) retired
  4. Joseph Edward Kurtz (2007–present)

Past and present affiliated bishops[edit]


High schools[edit]

Ten Catholic secondary schools serve more than 6,300 students. Eight of the schools are located in Jefferson County and one in Nelson County. Four of the schools enroll only girls, three enroll only boys, and two are coeducational.[2]





Elementary schools[edit]

Forty Catholic parish, regional, and special elementary schools serve more than 15,500 students in seven counties of the Archdiocese of Louisville.[3]

  • Saint Mary Academy, began in 2007 as a merger of Mother of Good Counsel Elementary School and Immaculate Conception School[4]
  • St. Andrew Academy was established in 2005 following the regionalization of three parish schools in Southwest Jefferson County. The three parish schools that united to combine St. Andrew were Our Lady of Consolation, St. Clement and St. Polycarp. In April 2008, the parishes of St. Clement, Our Lady Help of Christians, Our Lady of Consolation, St. Polycarp and St. Timothy combined to form St. Peter the Apostle. St. Andrew Academy is now the parish school of St. Peter the Apostle.[5]

Metropolitan Province of Louisville[edit]

Ecclesiastical Province of Louisville

The Metropolitan Province of Louisville covers the states of Kentucky and Tennessee, and comprises the following dioceses:

Notable figures in the history of the archdiocese[edit]

The Cathedra of the Archbishop of Louisville
  • Thomas Merton (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968) – American Trappist monk and author, famed for his work in Buddhist-Christian relations. Entered the Abbey of Gethsemani in the Archdiocese of Louisville in 1941.
  • Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget (1763–1850) was the first and only Bishop of Bardstown and the first Bishop of Louisville. Invariably called "the saintly Flaget", Bishop Flaget served as bishop from 1810 until his death in 1850.
  • Father Stephen T. Badin (1768–1853) – The "circuit rider priest". Served the area that would become the Diocese of Bardstown (and later the Archdiocese of Louisville.) The first priest to be ordained in the United States, Father Badin was known as overly strict but zealous.
  • Father John L. Spalding (1840–1916) helped found Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and was called the "Catholic Emerson" because of his many books of essays. Father Spalding later became the Bishop of Peoria, Illinois.
  • Father James C. Maloney (1911–1998) – founded Boys' Haven in Louisville in 1948. His brother is Bishop Charles Maloney.
  • Monsignor Alfred F. Horrigan (1914–2005) was the founding president of Bellarmine College, now Bellarmine University. He also headed the city's Human Relations commission and was a friend of Thomas Merton.

Coat of arms[edit]

Arms of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville.svg
The coat of arms was designed and adopted when Archdiocese was erected
On a field of blue wavy white lines at bottom with the fortress at center with the three red arrows on it. Two fleur-de-lis and a white star are on top of it.
The field of blue symbolizes the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. The region is part of the Diocese of Lexington, but Kurtz will also be head of the Catholic province of Kentucky and Tennessee, hence the wider geographic view. The wavy white lines at bottom symbolize the Falls of the Ohio; the fortress-like horizontal white line at center left symbolizes the old fort at Corn Island on the Ohio river; and the three red arrows represent arrowheads and refer to the French and Indian War, which raged in these parts.

One fleur-de-lis represents Louisville's being named in honor of Louis XVI of France; the other represents the early French missionaries who brought the Catholic faith to the region, including pioneering Bishop Joseph Benedict Flaget. The white star represents Our Lady of the Assumption, patroness of the cathedral.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°14′34″N 85°45′07″W / 38.24278°N 85.75194°W / 38.24278; -85.75194