MITRI: The Story of Prince Dimitrius Augustin Gallitsin by Daniel Sargent

MITRI: The Story of Prince Dimitrius Augustin Gallitsin

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This biography opens and closes with this intriguing paragraph: ""Once upon a time there were two parents who quite as much as all other parents -- and even more -- wished their son to be distinguished. They were a Russian prince, Dmitri Alexeievitch Gallitzin, and his German wife, Amalia von Schmettan. They had a son named Dimitri Dimitrievitch, whom they called Mitri. The father wished the son to be distinguished because he was a Gallitzin. The mother wished him to be distinguished because commonplace people bored her."" Between these two identical paragraphs there is contained a fascinating story of the first Roman Catholic priest to be ordained in America, known as the apostle of the Alleghenies. He never did become distinguished, as his parents planned, but the story of his life is certainly interesting. The character delineation is sharp -- his father, a typical Russian nobleman of the old school, immersed in his diplomatic career and in his contacts with such European intellectuals as Voltaire and Diderot; his mother, beautiful, charming and unstable and a zealous convert to Roman Catholicism. Mitri, dour and unpromising as a boy, fanatical and quarrelsome as a priest, -- these character studies are excellently done. Father Gallitzin's career as a priest in America covered a period when Catholics were few and far between and subject to persecution and ridicule. Gallitzin, however, was a fighter for his faith and did much to establish the Roman Catholic Church in western Pennsylvania despite the violent opposition of the predominant Scotch-Irish Presbyterians.

Publisher: Longmans Green