The Rev. Demetrius Gallitzin, a European prince who forsook
his wealth to become a priest in the Allegheny Mountains of 18th century
Pennsylvania, has attained the status of "Servant of God," the first of
several steps on the ladder to Roman Catholic sainthood.
Bishop Joseph V. Adamec, who heads the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown,
announced the decision Monday.
The ruling by the Congregation for Saints of the Holy See means the process
of determining whether Gallitzin qualifies for sainthood will continue.
"In Loretto, we have always believed he is a saint," said Betty Seymour, who
heads a task force dedicated to promoting Gallitzin's saintly credentials.
"What we are asking for it that he be declared (a saint) for all the world."
Seymour, her husband Frank, and the Rev. John Byrnes, a diocesan priest, are
pushing to have Gallitzin canonized.
The son of a Russian prince who left that life at age 29 to emigrate to the
United States, Gallitzin in 1795 entered a Baltimore monastery and became
the first priest to receive full orders and be ordained in the United
He was sent to an area that later became Cambria County, where he used his
money to buy part of what is now Loretto, and spent his royal fortune
building sawmills, gristmills, tanneries, a church and a model farm.
Gallitzin is known as the "Apostle of the Alleghenies" for bringing Roman
Catholicism to south-central Pennsylvania. He died in 1840 of a strangulated
hernia related to a fall from a horse years earlier.
"So many people trace their roots and their religion from this settlement
here," Seymour said of Loretto, her hometown.