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Archdiocese of Baltimore
Archidioecesis Baltimorensis
Basic information
Location Baltimore, Maryland United States
Territory The City of Baltimore and nine counties across Northern Maryland
Population 517,679 Catholics
Rite Latin Rite
Patron Immaculate Conception
Established November 6, 1789
Cathedral Cathedral of Mary Our Queen
Co-cathedral Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Current leadership
Diocesan Bishop Edwin Frederick O'Brien
Auxiliary bishops Denis James Madden

Mitchell Thomas Rozanski

Emeritus bishops William Cardinal Keeler
William Donald Borders
Archdiocese of Baltimora.jpg

The Metropolitan Archdiocese of Baltimore is a particular church of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. The archdiocese comprises the City of Baltimore as well as Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, and Washington Counties in Maryland. The archdiocese is the metropolitan see of the Ecclesiastical Province of Baltimore.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore is the oldest in the United States within its boundaries at the time. The Holy See granted the archdiocese the right of precedence in the nation at liturgies, meetings, and councils on August 15, 1859.[1] Although the Archdiocese of Baltimore does not enjoy primatial status, it is the premier Episcopal See of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States of America.

The archdiocese comprises nine Maryland counties and Baltimore city, having 518,000 Catholics, 545 priests, five hospitals, and two seminaries (St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore and Mount St. Mary's Seminary at Mount Saint Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland).[2][3]



Before and during the American Revolutionary War, the Catholics in Great Britain's thirteen colonies in America (and also its colonies in Canada) were under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of the London District, in England. The war was formally ended by the Treaty of Paris, which was signed on September 3, 1783, and was ratified by the Congress of the Confederation (of the newly independent United States of America) on January 14, 1784, and by the King of Great Britain on April 9, 1784. The ratification documents were exchanged in Paris on May 12, 1784.

A petition was sent by the Maryland clergy to the Holy See, on November 6, 1783, for permission for the missionaries in the United States to nominate a superior who would have some of the powers of a bishop. In response to that, Father John Carroll — having been selected by his brother priests — was confirmed by Pope Pius VI, on June 6, 1784, as Superior of the Missions in the thirteen United States of North America, with power to give the sacrament of confirmation. This act established a hierarchy in the United States and removed the Catholic Church in the U.S. from the authority of the Vicar Apostolic of the London District.

The Holy See then established the Apostolic Prefecture of the United States on November 26, 1784. Because Maryland was one of the few regions of the colonial United States that was predominantly Catholic, the apostolic prefecture was elevated to become the Diocese of Baltimore[4] — the first diocese in the United States — on November 6, 1789.

On April 8, 1808, the suffragan dioceses of Boston,[5] New York,[6] Philadelphia,[7] and Bardstown (moved in 1841 to Louisville) [8] were erected by Pope Pius VII from the territory of the Diocese of Baltimore, which was simultaneously raised to the rank of metropolitan archdiocese. The newly established Province of Baltimore — whose metropolitan was archbishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore — comprised all of the states and territories of the nation.

The Archdiocese again lost territory with the creation of the Diocese of Richmond (Va.)[1] on July 11, 1820, and the Diocese of Wilmington (Del.)[2] on March 3, 1868. In 1850, the Diocese of Wheeling (then in Va.; now Wheeling-Charleston, W. Va.) [3] was erected, from the Diocese of Richmond. In 1974, the Diocese of Arlington (Va.)[4] was erected, from the Diocese of Richmond.

Due to the rapid growth of the Roman Catholic Church in the region, the see was renamed the Archdiocese of Baltimore-Washington on July 22, 1939. The Archdiocese of Washington (D.C.)[5] became an independent entity on November 15, 1947, resulting in the present-day Archdiocese of Baltimore.

From 1808 until 1847, Baltimore was the only archdiocese and therefore the entire country was one ecclesiastical province.[6] As the nation's population grew and waves of Catholic immigrants came from Europe, the Holy See continued to erect new dioceses and elevate others to metropolitan archdioceses, which simultaneously became metropolitan sees of new ecclesiastical provinces. Thus, the Province of Baltimore gradually became smaller and smaller. In 1847, the then-Diocese of Saint Louis was elevated to an archdiocese and metropolitan see of the new Province of Saint Louis. In 1850, the Diocese of New York was raised to an archdiocese. Also in 1850, the Diocese of Oregon City (now Portland) was raised to an archdiocese. In 1875, the dioceses of Boston and Philadelphia were likewise elevated.

The Archdiocese has published The Catholic Review since the 19th century.



In general; "Prerogative of Place"

See also: Primate (religion)#"Honorary" titles

The Archdiocese of Baltimore is led by the prelature of the Archbishop of Baltimore and a corps of auxiliary bishops who assist in the administration of the archdiocese as part of a larger curia. Fifteen people have served as Archbishop of Baltimore; the current Archbishop is Edwin Frederick O'Brien.

In 1858, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide), with the approval of Pope Pius IX, conferred "Prerogative of Place" on the Archdiocese of Baltimore. This decree gave the archbishop of Baltimore precedence over all the archbishops of the United States (but not cardinals) in councils, gatherings, and meetings of whatever kind of the hierarchy (in conciliis, coetibus et comitiis quibuscumque), regardless of the seniority of other archbishops in promotion or ordination.[9]


The archbishop is concurrently the pastor of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the co-cathedral; the bishop appoints the cathedral and co-cathedral's rectors. The Basilica, built in 1806–1821, is the first cathedral and parish in the United States within its boundaries at the time. It is considered the mother church of the United States.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore is one of only three United States dioceses that has two churches serving as cathedrals in the same city — the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace and Co-Cathedral of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus in the Diocese of Honolulu share the distinction. The Diocese of Burlington also has this in common. Other dioceses with two cathedrals have their churches in separate cities[10].

Archbishops of Baltimore

John Carroll lays the cornerstone for the Cathedral of the Assumption in Baltimore
  1. John Carroll, S.J. (1784–1815) died
  2. Leonard Neale, S.J. (1815–1817) died
  3. Ambrose Maréchal, P.S.S. (1817–1828) died
  4. James Whitfield (1828–1834) died
  5. Samuel Eccleston, P.S.S. (1834–1851) died
  6. Francis Patrick Kenrick (1851–1863) died
  7. Martin John Spalding (1864–1872) died
  8. James Roosevelt Bayley (1872–1877) died
  9. James Cardinal Gibbons (1877–1921) died
  10. Michael Joseph Curley (1921–1947) died
  11. Francis Patrick Keough (1947–1961) died
  12. Lawrence Joseph Cardinal Shehan (1961–1974) retired
  13. William Donald Borders (1974–1989) retired
  14. William Henry Cardinal Keeler (1989–2007) retired
  15. Edwin Frederick O'Brien (2007–present)

† = deceased

Auxiliary bishops

  1. † Dominic Laurence Graessl S.J. (Coadjutor: 1793) posthumous appointment
  2. Leonard Neale S.J. (Coadjutor: 1795–1815) succeeded
  3. James Whitfield (Coadjutor: January 8 – 28, 1828) succeeded
  4. Samuel Eccleston P.S.S. (Coadjutor: March – October 1834) succeeded
  5. James Gibbons (Coadjutor: May – October 1877) succeeded
  6. Alfred Allen Paul Curtis (1897–1908) retired as Bishop emeritus of Wilmington (bishop of Wilmington, 1886–1896)
  7. Owen Patrick Bernard Corrigan (1908–1929) died
  8. Thomas Joseph Shahan (1914–1932) died
  9. John Michael McNamara (1927–1947) appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Washington
  10. Lawrence Joseph Shehan (1945–1953) appointed Bishop of Bridgeport (later named coadjutor archbishop; see #12 below)
  11. Jerome Aloysius Daugherty Sebastian (1953–1960) died
  12. Lawrence Joseph Shehan (Coadjutor: July – December 1961) succeeded (previously was auxiliary; see #10 above)
  13. Thomas Austin Murphy (1962–1984) retired
  14. Thomas Joseph Mardaga (1966–1968) appointed Bishop of Wilmington
  15. Francis Joseph Gossman (1968–1975) appointed Bishop of Raleigh
  16. Philip Francis Murphy (1976–1999) died
  17. James Francis Stafford (1976–1982) appointed Bishop of Memphis (later appointed Archbishop of Denver; later President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; created Cardinal; later appointed Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary; retired 2 June 2009)
  18. William Clifford Newman (1984–2003) retired
  19. John Ricard S.S.J. (1984–1997) appointed Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
  20. Gordon Dunlap Bennett S.J. (1997–2004) appointed Bishop of Mandeville (Jamaica, W.I.)
  21. William Francis Malooly (2000–2008) appointed Bishop of Wilmington
  22. Mitchell T. Rozanski (since 2004)
  23. Denis J. Madden (since 2005)

† = deceased

Affiliated bishops

The following men began their service as priests in Baltimore before being appointed bishops elsewhere (years in parentheses refers to their years in Baltimore):


Primary schools

Saint Francis of Assisi School is a primary school located in the Archdiocese. It serves students from preschooleighth grade.[11] [12]

High Schools

Shrines of the archdiocese

See also: List of shrines#United States

Province of Baltimore

See also


  1. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia Article on Precedence
  2. ^ Liz F. Kay, "New home for a new archbishop", Baltimore Sun, July 14, 2007.
  3. ^ G.M. Corrigan, "Archbishop O'Brien to begin stewardship with listening tour", The Baltimore Examiner, August 4, 2007.
  4. ^ "Our History". Archdiocese of Baltimore official website. Retrieved 2009-11-26.
  5. ^ "Historical Sketch of The Archdiocese of Boston". Archdiocese of Boston. Retrieved 2009-11-26.
  6. ^ Timeline. Archdiocese of New York. Retrieved 2009-11-26.
  7. ^ A Brief History of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Archdiocese of Philadelphia website. Retrieved 2010-03-12.
  8. ^ Brief History of the Archdiocese of Louisville. Archdiocese of Louisville. Retrieved 2009-11-26.
  9. ^ "Archdiocese of Baltimore - Our History". Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  10. ^ "Cathedrals in United States" (Website). Giga-Catholic Information. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  11. ^ "Primary & Secondary School Guide". Daily Record. 2009. 
  12. ^ school website
  13. ^ Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  14. ^ National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

External links


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