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New Orleans: Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos

​About Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos:

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Francis Xavier Seelos was born on January 11, 1819 in Fussen, Bavaria, Germany. He had expressed a desire for the priesthood since childhood, and in 1842, after completing his studies in philosophy, he entered the diocesan seminary.

Soon after meeting the missionaries of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), he applied to become a member of the Congregation.

Note:  The Redemptorists, officially called the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (C. Ss. R.), is a community of Roman Catholic priests and lay brothers founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori in 1732.  Their work was the evangelization of the most abandoned.  In this case they ministered to the German speaking immigrants in the United States.

He was accepted by the Congregation on November 22, 1842, and sailed the following year from Le Havre, France arriving in New York on April 20, 1843. On December 22, 1844, after having completed his novitiate and theological studies, Seelos was ordained a priest in the Redemptorist Church of St. James in Baltimore, Maryland.

After being ordained, he worked for nine years in the parish of St. Philomena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, first as assistant pastor with St. John Neumann, the superior of the Religious Community, and later as Superior himself and for the last three years as pastor. Along with St. John Neumann, he also dedicated himself to preaching missions. Regarding their relationship, Seelos said: “He has introduced me to the active life” and, “he has guided me as a spiritual director and confessor.”

His availability and innate kindness in understanding and responding to the needs of the faithful, quickly made him well known as an expert confessor and spiritual director, so much so that people came to him even from neighboring towns. Faithful to the Redemptorist charism, he practiced a simple lifestyle and a simple manner of expressing himself. His preaching, rich in biblical content, was always heard and understood by everyone, regardless of education, culture, or background.

A constant endeavor in this pastoral activity was instructing the little children in the faith. He not only favored this ministry, he held it as fundamental for the growth of the Christian community in the parish. In 1854, he was transferred from Pittsburgh, to Baltimore, then Cumberland in 1857, and to Annapolis (1862), all the while engaged in parish ministry and serving in the formation of future Redemptorists as Prefect of Students. He was known for always being a kind and happy pastor, attentive to the needs of his students and conscientious of their doctrinal formation. Above all, he strove to instill in these future Redemptorist missionaries the enthusiasm, the spirit of sacrifice and apostolic zeal for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the people.

In 1860 he was proposed as a candidate for the office of Bishop of Pittsburgh, something he definitely did not want. He was excused from this responsibility by Pope Pius IX. and from 1863 until 1866 he dedicated himself to the life of an itinerant missionary preaching in English and German in the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

After a brief period of parish ministry in Detroit, Michigan, Seelos preached a two-week parish mission at St. Mary of Victories Church in St. Louis, Missouri in October 1865. The Church has a small shrine to his honor, a first class relic, and one of the five known death masks made of Blessed Seelos

Seelos was next assigned in 1866 as Pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, New Orleans.  At the time a devastating Yellow Fever epidemic raged and in September of that year, exhausted from visiting and caring for the victims of the disease, he himself contracted it and after several weeks of patiently enduring his illness, he passed on to eternal life on October 4, 1867, at the age of 48 years and 9 months.

His Holiness Pope John Paul II, proclaimed Father Seelos Blessed in St. Peter’s Square on April 9th of the Solemn Jubilee Year 2000.

The Feast Day of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos is October 5.

Many cures have been attributed to his intercession over the years…one of which is described in this newspaper article in the Catholic Herald from January 26, 2012.

His cause for Canonization is being actively pursued.

Note:  coincidentally….and this has nothing to do with Blessed Seelos….the same newspaper mentions the creation of a second Ordinariate for former Episcopalian Priests who wish to become Catholic:  The personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, based in Houston, Texas.


About the Shrine of Blessed Seelos:

If you plan to visit New Orleans, you should definitely stop in at the Shrine of Blessed Seelos.  The Shrine is manned by volunteers and is open at certain times.  Check their website below for details.
Walk of Life Museum

The Walk of Life museum here in the Shrine offers an overview of the history of the ecclesiastical square – the immigration of the Irish, German and French people to the lower Garden District.

The museum also details the life of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, the Civil War, and the yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans. It features artifacts, timelines, audio clips and an 8-minute video.


Traveling to the Shrine of Blessed Seelos:

Note that there is a Blessed Seelos Parish in New Orleans; however, this is not where the shrine is located.

The shrine–and his burial site–is located next to St. Mary’s Assumption Church where he served as pastor. If you are staying in the French Quarter you can catch a street car and then walk a few blocks or just take a taxi.

Address: 919 Josephine St, New Orleans, LA 70130

GPS coordinates: 29° 55′ 44.6052” N, 90° 4′ 28.3980” W

Tel: +1 (504) 525-2495

Click here for the official website of the Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos in New Orleans .

Photos courtesy Blessed Seelos Shrine.

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