Sylvester Horton Rosecrans

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The Right Reverend
Sylvester Horton Rosecrans
Bishop of Columbus
Church Roman Catholic Church
See Columbus
In office March 3, 1868 – October 21, 1878
Predecessor none
Successor John Ambrose Watterson
Ordination June 5, 1852
Consecration March 25, 1862
Personal details
Born (1827-02-05)February 5, 1827
Homer, Ohio
Died October 21, 1878(1878-10-21) (aged 51)
Columbus, Ohio
Previous post Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati (1862-1868)

Sylvester Horton Rosecrans (February 5, 1827 – October 21, 1878) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Columbus from 1868 until his death in 1878.

Life and church[edit]

The body of Bishop Rosecrans is entombed in St. Joseph Cathedral (Columbus, Ohio).

Sylvester Rosecrans was born in Homer, Ohio, to Crandell and Jane (née Hopkins) Rosecrans.[1] His father's family originally came from Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and settled near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania before moving to Kingston Township, Ohio.[2] His mother was the granddaughter of Stephen Hopkins, the Colonial Governor of Rhode Island and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and grandniece of Esek Hopkins, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Navy during the Revolutionary War.[3] Sylvester was the youngest of four sons, who included William Rosecrans, who would later become a famed Union general of the Civil War.[4]

Raised in a Methodist family, Rosecrans was raised in Licking County and attended Kenyon College, an Episcopalian institution.[2] While attending Kenyon, he received a letter from his brother William in 1845, announcing his conversion to Catholicism.[2] Sylvester was received into the Catholic Church that same year and, leaving Kenyon, enrolled at St. John's College in Fordham, New York.[5] After graduating from St. John's in 1846 with high honors, he decided to enter the priesthood and was sent by Archbishop John Baptist Purcell to study at the College of the Propaganda in Rome.[1] He there earned his doctorate in theology and was ordained priest by Cardinal Costantino Patrizi June 5, 1852.[6]

After touring through Italy, France, England, and Ireland, Rosecrans returned to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and was appointed pastor of St. Thomas Church in Cincinnati.[5] He was then assigned as a curate at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral and a professor at Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West.[5] In 1859 Archbishop Purcell opened a college for Catholic youth in connection with the seminary and named Rosecrans as its President.[2] However, the college was later closed with the outbreak of the Civil War.[1]

On December 23, 1861, Rosecrans was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati and Titular Bishop of Pompeiopolis by Pope Pius IX.[6] He received his episcopal consecration on March 25, 1862 from Archbishop Purcell, with Bishops Martin John Spalding and John Henry Luers serving as co-consecrators, at St. Peter's Cathedral.[6] Following the consecration of Edward Fitzgerald as Bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas, in February 1867, Rosecrans replaced him as pastor of St. Patrick Church in Columbus.[1]

He was named the first Bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Columbus on March 3, 1868.[6] The new diocese included Central, South Central, and Southeastern Ohio, roughly running from the Scioto River on the west across to the Ohio River along the east, and comprised 32 parishes and about 41,000 Catholics.[7] No railroad had as yet penetrated some of the counties, and Rosecrans was forced to make many of the journeys on his visitations by stagecoach, wagon, or steamboat.[8] He was excused from participating in the First Vatican Council (1869–1870) in order to attend to the needs of his new diocese.[1]

During his 10-year-long tenure, Rosecrans founded St. Aloysius Seminary for young men in 1871, solemnly dedicated the diocese to the Sacred Heart in December 1873, and established the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Columbian, in 1875.[1][5] He also founded St. Mary's of the Springs Academy for Young Ladies, St. Joseph's Academy, St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum, and Sacred Heart Convent.[2] But his greatest achievement was the construction of St. Joseph's Cathedral, which cost $220,000 and was consecrated on October 20, 1878.[5] He died the next day, aged 51.

There is a high school in Zanesville, Ohio named after him called Bishop Rosecrans High School.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Clarke, Richard Henry. Lives of the Deceased Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d e "William and Sylvester Rosecrans". Catholic Encyclopedia. 
  3. ^ "William Starke Rosecrans". Home of the American Civil War. 
  4. ^ "Major General William Starke Rosecrans". Big Walnut Area Historical Society. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "The Bishops of Columbus". Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Bishop Sylvester Horton Rosecrans". 
  7. ^ "Diocese History". Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus. 
  8. ^ "Diocese of Columbus". Catholic Encyclopedia. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Columbus
Succeeded by
John Ambrose Watterson