Matthew Harkins

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Right Reverend
Matthew Harkins
Bishop of Providence
Bishop Matthew Harkins.jpg
Church Roman Catholic Church
See Providence
In office April 14, 1887—May 25, 1921
Predecessor Thomas Francis Hendricken
Successor William A. Hickey
Ordination May 22, 1869
Consecration April 14, 1887
Personal details
Born (1845-11-17)November 17, 1845
Boston, Massachusetts
Died May 25, 1921(1921-05-25) (aged 75)
Providence, Rhode Island

Matthew Harkins (November 17, 1845 – May 25, 1921) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Providence from 1887 until his death in 1921.


Matthew Harkins was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Patrick and Margaret (née Krauitch) Harkins,[1] who were Irish immigrants.[2] He received his early education at a primary school on Tremont Street and a grammar school in Quincy.[1] He attended Boston Latin School from 1859 until 1862, when he entered Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts.[1] After a year at Holy Cross, he went abroad to France and furthered his studies at the English College in Douai and Seminary of Saint-Sulpice in Paris.[3]

While in Paris, Harkins was ordained to the priesthood on May 22, 1869.[4] After studying theology and canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he returned to Massachusetts in 1870 and was named curate at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Salem.[1] He served as pastor of St. Malachi Church in Arlington from 1876 to 1884, and then as pastor of St. James Church in Boston (then the largest parish in New England) from 1884 to 1887.[5] In 1884 he accompanied Archbishop John Joseph Williams to the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore as a theologian.[1]

On February 11, 1887, Harkins was appointed the second Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, by Pope Leo XIII.[4] He received his episcopal consecration on the following April 14 from Archbishop Williams, with Bishops Patrick Thomas O'Reilly and Lawrence Stephen McMahon serving as co-consecrators, at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul.[4] During his tenure, the diocese grew to be among the largest in the country and to have one of the highest percentage of Catholics.[2] In 1904 the Holy See formed the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, out of Providence, which was then left 190,000 Catholics and which later increased to 275,180 by 1920.[2] Harkins also increased the number of parishes from 39 to 95; most of these new parishes were erected in the cities and growing suburbs, and designated for various ethnic groups.[2] He established numerous charitable organizations and parochial schools as well.[2] Harkins was also responsible for creating the first Roman Catholic college in the diocese, Providence College, in 1917. Its main building, Bishop Harkins Hall, is named for him.

Due to his advancing age and declining health, Harkins received two auxiliary bishops between May 1914 and October 1917, and a coadjutor bishop in April 1919.[2] He later died at age 75.


  1. ^ a b c d e "RT. REV. MATTHEW HARKINS, D.D.". History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "History". Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence. 
  3. ^ "Providence". Catholic Encyclopedia. 
  4. ^ a b c "Bishop Matthew A. Harkins". 
  5. ^ Smyth, James W. "RIGHT REV. MATTHEW HARKINS, D.D., THE SECOND BISHOP OF PROVIDENCE DIOCESE". History of the Catholic Church in Woonsocket and Vicinity. 

External links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Thomas Francis Hendricken
Bishop of Providence
Succeeded by
William A. Hickey