A big part of Central Pennsylvania History began with Prince Gallitzin, known as Father Gallitzin, a Russian Prince by the name of Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin.
Father Gallitzin began a legend of Pennsylvania Colony History when he came to a small settlement in the Allegheny Mountains and started the first Catholic church.
The small town of Loretto, Pennsylvania was known as the McGuire Settlement, in 1795.
The McGuire Settlement was founded in 1789 by a group of about ten families who were led by Captain Michael McGuire, a former officer in the Colonial Army. It remained a settlement until 1799 when a young priest was, by his own request, assigned as the paster of the settlement. Prince Gallitzin became well known as Father Gallitzin through the Allegheny Mountains.
Father Gallitzin renamed the settlement, Loretto in honor of Loreto, Italy, which is the site of the Holy House. Prince Gallitzin, gave up his wealth and inheritance to serve the people of Loretto. He had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary.
This wealthy Russian Prince went down in Pennsylvania History as the founder of the first Central Pennsylvania Catholic Colony.
The History Of St. Micheals Church
The first Catholic Parish between Lancaster, PA and St. Louis, MO, was built by a Russian Prince, known through the Pennsylvania Mountains as Father Gallitzin. It is a small piece of Pennsylvania History yet played an important role in developing a Catholic foundation during the development of Pennsylvania Colony History.
The original church called St. Michaels is setting on the same site as the chapel.
Father Gallitzin bought large stretches of the Pennsylvania Mountain forests and started legends of Pennsylvania Colony History with his dream of building a colony of Catholics.
This wealthy Russian Prince, Prince Gallitzin, traveled through the forest and offered to sell plots of land to anybody that would agree to join his parish. He offered to sell these plots for much less then he paid for it. The small town of Loretto, PA, is now known as the most Catholic town in America. It's a small part of Pennsylvania History that has created legends through the Allegheny Mountains.
By the time Father Gallitzin died in May 6th, 1840, of a double hernia, Loretto had established a Catholic Church and town that required three priests to minister to it's religious needs.
The town still honors the tomb of Father Gallitzin, that is located in front of St. Michaels Church. The Allegheny Mountains also has Prince Gallitzin State Park named after Allegheny Mountains Prince Gallitzin.
A short drive up the road from St. Michaels Church you will find Mount Assisi, also known as The Unknown Jewel Of The Alleghenies.
Loreto, Italy is a very special village, and also one of the most popular sites for religious pilgramages in Europe. The pilgrims are invited there to meditate upon the mystery of the Annunciation of Mary. There one learns the courage of the faith.
According to a very ancient tradition, the Nazareth home of Our Lady is preserved in the Shrine of Loreto. Thousands of people visit the Shrine of the Holy House every year.
According to the famous legend, it was in 1291 when the crusaders were driven from Palestine, that the house was transported by angels-first to Croatia and then to Loreto. Recent archeological studies have proven that the house was indeed transported but with human intervention.
Within the Holy House, there are ten different shrines which celebrate very important religious themes. Some of these include, the shrine of the Incarnation, the Shrine of the Holy Spirit, and the Shrine of the Family. Loreto, Italy is famous for its devotion to Our Lady, and perhaps that is it's most important relation to Loretto, Pennsylvania.
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