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John Ireland Edit Profile


John Ireland was the first Roman Catholic archbishop of Saint Paul, Minnesota from 1888 until his death.


John Ireland was born on September 11, 1838, in Kilkenny, Ireland. His family migrated to America in 1849, finally settling in St. Paul, Minn.


Ireland attracted the attention of Bishop Joseph Cretin and was sent to France, where he studied under liberal Catholic professors.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate (LL. D. ) by Yale University in October 1901, during celebrations for the bicentenary of the university.


He returned to America in time to be a chaplain in the Civil War. Ireland's residence was St. Paul, and for 50 years he was the dominating Catholic influence in the upper Mississippi Valley. Ireland participated in all the great battles racking the Church at this time. Although absolutely loyal to the Pope, he was charged by his conservative enemies with the heresy of "Americanism. "

He supported the establishment of the Catholic University of America in 1889, believing that this age will not take kindly to religious knowledge separated from secular knowledge. Though Ireland was one of the few Catholic leaders to join the attack on the liquor interests and he upheld labor's right to organize, he was no radical.

A familiar figure in Europe, Ireland was a part-time international diplomat, sent on special missions by both the Pope and the President of the United States. In 1899 Pope Leo XIII issued a condemnation of "Americanism" in the letter Testem benevolentiae, addressed to Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore but intended for Ireland as well. Although the church's liberals termed the issue a "phantom heresy, " the rebuke was unmistakable and Ireland's voice was muffled. He died in St. Paul on Sept. 25, 1918.


  • He became both a religious as well as civic leader in Saint Paul during the turn of the 20th century. He spoke for liberal Catholics who sought to harmonize Catholicism with American institutions, especially in the furtherance of progressive social ideals. He was a leader of the modernizing element in the Roman Catholic Church during the Progressive Era. He was the author of The Church and Modern Society (1897). Besides, he founded Saint Thomas Aquinas Seminary, Cathedral of Saint Paul, commissioned the construction of the Church of Saint Mary in the neighboring city of Minneapolis.

    John Ireland Boulevard, a Saint Paul street that runs from the Cathedral of Saint Paul northeast to the Minnesota State Capitol, is named in his honor.


Ireland was known for being close to the Republican party. He opposed racial inequality and called for equal rights and equal privileges, political, civil, and social.


His fondest dream was to bring Catholic immigrants out of the tenements of the East to the broad prairies of the West, and he worked in cooperation with the railroads in this colonization enterprise. Ireland's appeal - to make Minnesota the center of Catholic culture in the Northwest.

Ireland sought to accommodate the American public school system with the Catholic program of parochial schools, though his compromise pleased neither militant Catholics nor militant Protestants.


He was a man of energy and decision.


William McKinley