John Joseph Swint

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John Joseph Swint (December 15, 1879 – November 23, 1962) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Wheeling from 1922 until his death in 1962.


One of nine children, John Swint was born in Pickens, West Virginia, to Peter and Caroline (née Winkler) Swint, who were immigrants from Central Europe.[1][2] He studied at St. Charles College in Ellicott City, Maryland, from where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1899.[1] He then enrolled at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, later earning a Bachelor of Sacred Theology in 1904.[1] He was ordained to the priesthood on June 23, 1904.[3] After studying at the Apostolic Mission House in Washington, D.C. for a year, he returned to West Virginia and served as pastor of St. Patrick Church in Hinton (1905-1908).[1] He was also head of the Diocesan Apostolate (1908-1914) and pastor of St. Patrick Church in Weston (1914-1922).[1]

On February 22, 1922, Swint was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Wheeling and Titular Bishop of Sura by Pope Pius XI.[3] He was one of the first U.S. appointments of Pius XI, who was elected on the previous February 6. He received his episcopal consecration on May 11, 1922 from Archbishop Michael Joseph Curley, with Bishops Denis J. O'Connell and Hugh Charles Boyle serving as co-consecrators, at St. Joseph's Cathedral.[3] Following the death of Bishop Patrick James Donahue, Swint was named the fourth Bishop of Wheeling on December 11, 1922.[3] Swint was given the personal title of Archbishop by Pope Pius XII in 1954.[3]

In 1948, Swint took credit for the withdrawal of two or three women from the Miss America pageant with the threat of excommunication of Catholic contestants, claiming the pageant was "pagan" and if "nakedness" were removed from the pageant, it would "fall to pieces".[4] One contestant, Mariruth Ford, defied the ban, participated in the pageant and was excommunicated.[5]

Nicknamed "God's Bricklayer," he established twenty-five parishes, seven missions, two hospitals, two nursing homes, Sacred Heart Children's Home, Catholic Charities, and Wheeling College.[6] He held the seventh (1923) and eighth (1933) diocesan synods.[6] He laid the cornerstone for a new cathedral in May 1924, later dedicating the structure in April 1926.[7] He also invited the Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception, the Sisters of St. Joseph, and the Pallottine Missionary Sisters into the diocese.[6] He was named an Assistant at the Pontifical Throne in 1929.[1] On the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of his priestly ordination, he was given the personal title of Archbishop on March 12, 1954.[3] He authored The Moral Law (1933), The Parables of the Kingdom (1934), The Bread from Heaven (1935), Christ the Organizer of the Church (1936), Back to Christ (1940), Forgotten Truths (1940), and The Sweetest Story Ever Told (1947).[1]

Swint later died at age 82.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Curtis, Georgina Pell (1961). The American Catholic Who's Who. XIV. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig.
  2. ^ "Archbishop John J. Swint". St. Mary's Medical Center. Archived from the original on 2011-07-28.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Archbishop John Joseph Swint".
  4. ^ "Catholic Bishop Forces Wheeling Girls to Quit Miss America Contest". The Pittsburgh Press. 24 June 1948. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Beauty Bows to Church Contest Ban". The Pittsburgh Press. 24 June 1949. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "God's Bricklayer: Archbishop John J. Swint, 1922-1962". Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
  7. ^ "CATHEDRAL PARISH AND ITS CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY IN THE DIOCESE OF WHEELING". Saint Joseph Cathedral. Archived from the original on 2009-12-28.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Patrick James Donahue
Bishop of Wheeling
Succeeded by
Joseph Howard Hodges