Newspaper Page Text
Kentucky Irish American.
VOL,. 1 NO. 3.
LOUISVILLE, KY., SATURDAY, JULY 23, 1898.
The Beautiful Death of One
of New York's Beloved
"When the Ship Went Down
He Was Granting Absolution.
Cave Up His Life While Try
ing to Save the Souls
Tribute Paid to His Memory
by the Only Woman
BLESSED THE DOOMED PASSENGEKS
darkness and death of the day of
disaster, Julv 4, but I see with yet
clearer vision since a week has passed
and Lreview the awful event.
Father Kesseler stands the beauti
ful central figure in a picture of bru
tality and ghoulishness beyond the
ken of man, as the Christ in a dance
While creatures called men killed
women and children to make room
uppn boat or raft for themselves, he
stood upon the deck and prayed for
After the collision I ran upon the
deck with my husband. The passen
gers were crowding together and fight
ing like madmen for a place in the
boats. The officers were shouting
orders, but no one heeded. The
strode swntly toward us where1 we
were crowded, starboard amidship;
He looked majestic in his black robes.
His benign face was sad but calm.
It wore the look of, entire resignation.
l have seen such a rapt expression
only on the faces of Raphael's saints.
As he approached us we fell to our
knees. My husband knelt close to
me and held my hand in a grasp that
hurt. About us were twenty men.and
women and half-grown children.
The roar of the machinary and the
hissing of escaping steam almost
drowned the priest's voice, but we
strained our eyes to see his face. It
was bent above us longest as my
husband and I knelt there shivering.
I think he saw that we were husband
and wife, and that we wanted to die
The moment after he passed there
ivas an ominous r.r.ish. f)np of thp
boats had fallen from the mast where
tSswunc. The vessel dinned, the
ater swirled about us and we were
Mrrierl off thp sinltinrr thin hv tVip
jr - o -i- "j -
f My terrihed eyes, strained toward
e ship, caught the last mortal view
f Father Kesseler. He stood by the
ail of the deck. His hands were still
tretched out as though invoking a
)less!ntr nnon snmc knppliner onp
n o -1 - o
The one who had knelt a moment be
fore had been snatched away by the
11'-'"" i'"-"- " " -
Bpward, still with that sad, calm, re-
ngnea expression, ana even as 1
looked it seemed that the expression
changed to one of joy.
this noble priest's soul at the little
church on Columbus avenue and One
Hundred and Twenty-4-fifth street on
Tuesday morning. It was the saddest
and the most solemn service I ever
heard. The sobs of men, women and
children to whom he had ministered
all their lives drowned the chanting of
the priests and mingled with the organ
"He was like a father to us all,"
wept a woman with deep, sad lines in
her face. " His visits to our homes
were more welcome than the breath of
the spring flowers. We called him
the 'Saint of Harlem.'"
I was glad to tell the parishioners
and priests who loved him, I am glad
to tell all the world, that it may revere
him, the story of how Father Kesseler,
Charles A. Dana Tells the
Kind of Man the Gen
A grand and beautiful figure against
the background of horror and death
-on board the sinking Bourgogne was
a New York priest, the Rev. Anthony
Kesseler, the "Saint of Harlem."
When the ship went down he was
granting absolution. Indifferent to
his own life, he died saving souls; his
face turned toward heaven, his hands
outstretched in blessine. A nobler
'hprnir p i.nnnpffnr nn. nsc npver nppn i . '
After thirty-three years of continu
ous labor, without one vacation, in St.
Joseph's parish, he was returning to
the home of his boyhood in Germany.
It had'been the dream of his life to
revisit that home, yet so remarkable
was his devotion to duty that he would
not have left his flock even for a day
had not a committee of priests and
parishioners waited upon him and
begged him to go.
He was the best loved priest in
New York. He was known the
length and breadth of Harlem as a
saint. The Catholic church mourns
his loss. No priest was ever hon
ored with higher ceremonies than
was he at the requiem mass at St.
Joseph's on Tuesday, and the ex
traordinary honor of a Pontifical high
mass at the Catholic Cathedral was
driven him, Archbishop Corrigan pre
siding. Mrs. A. de Lacasse, the only
woman survivor of the wreck of the
Bourgogne, and an eye-witness of his
heroism, has written to the New York
Sunday Journal this inspiring story of
his heroic last moments and of his
-death : . , !
Father Kesseler was the hero of the,
Bourgogne. He died that others
might live. He forgot to don his life
preserver, and gave n,o thought to the
battle, unto death for a place in the
life-boats when the ship was sinking.
He spent all the precious moments
when he might have been saving his
life in trying to save the souls of
others. He died at his post on the
-deck of his vessel, his face turned to
ward the darkling sky, his hands out
stretched in blessing.
He deserves canonization, this late
Saint Anthony of active virtues.
He died while granting absolution.
He would have saved while others
I am a Protestant, but I revere this
Catholic priest as I do no other hero
of the world.
The sublimity of his sacrifice ap
peals to my religious fervor. The
picturesqueness of his act challenges
my artistic appreciation.
I recognized his heroism as a tre
mendous truth, amid the horror and
He Did Not Stay in the Rear
and Give Orders to the
! if, . ,ir
mm 1 . . ., v .
u - Mm tiiini- m:irrt nmvm. sttk. if s j 7 -J .- 1 l
Went to the Front and Took
the Same Chances as
His Promotion to the Rank
of Major General in the
HIS OKEAT POPULARITY WITH ALL
A LITTLE BIT OF SUGAR FOR THE BIRD.
England still presses home argument after argument in favor of the ridiculous American alliance. Dublin Independent.
crew seemed paralyzed with fright or
insane in their .desire to crowd into
the boats and escape from the doomed
ship. The waves lashing the sides of
the vessel sounded like the growl of
a great hungry beast. To add to all
this terror we were in semi-darkness.
The steamship gave evidence of
settling and listing. It was as though
the foundation was passing from be
neath our feet, as though there were
a new heaven and a new earth, from
which we were being banished to hell.
It was a time of horror to make men
I heard the scream of a woman. It
was the shriek of one who had just
received a mortal blow. Some one
shouted that an Italian had stabbed a
woman who had tried to get in a boat
before him. The babel of voices was
like a chorus of lost souls. I felt that
my reason was going. A hush fell
upon the shrieking,'' fighting mob.
Father Kesseler was coming. He
or live together. His fingers touched
our heads for an instant.
"Courage and peace for the end
has come," I heard him say.
He passed on to the next and the
next. He could stop for but an in
stant', for there were so many in need
of a blessing 770 souls and there
were groups collecting and awaiting
him in kneeling attitude further on,
but each bent head in our group re
ceived his touch and his blessing.
The faces about me had been white
with terror before. Their owners had
crouched in an attitude that was ab
ject to animalism. But when Father
Kesseler had touched and blessed and
passed on the faces lost their tense"
ness. The brightness of a purpose
filled them. The figures rose. The
priest had given them the courage to
battle for life and courage to yield if
the battle was against them. He
helped some to live and the rest to
I believe that even then the gates
of Paradise had opened upon the sight
of Father Kesseler. The wind blew
his white hair about his forehead and
cheeks. It looked like the silver halo
of a transfigured saint. And still his
hands were stretched out in blessing.
The water rose above his waist. It
reached his breast. It covered his
outstretched hinds, and then I dared
not look longer. A gurgle as from a
monster throat sounded in our ears.
We were drawn to the outer edge of
a black, hungry maelstrom and we,
kneV the ship had gone down.
Of bur rescue by the good Captain
Henderson, of the Cromartyshire,
every one knows.
It but remains, for us to pay tribute
to the hero of the. Bourgogne,, than
whom.no man, living or dead, is
worthier of praise. 4 f ,
The Rev. Anth'ony, TCeseeler was
the pastor in charge of St. Joseph's
parish. We attended the requiem for,
like our Saviour, died that others
might be saved.
We noticed Father Kesseler on the
day of our sailing. Whether he was
a first or second cabin or steerage
passenger no one seemed to know.
He was seen in all thrje parts of the
ship, but he stayed longest in the
steerage, least in the first cabin.'
In the unspeakable hours of that
morning he crucified and buried self.
Life-boats and life-preservers were not
for him while one soul on the Bour
gogne was yet unshriven. He granted
absolution to half a hundred, and
there was no one to grant it to him at
the last moment, when he died at
duty, none but Him whose blessings
are the most efficacious, the Most
The memory of his face as it looked
while he was sinking my husband and
I will carry through our lives as a
So died and ascended into heaven
the bravest man I ever knew, so was
translated the loftiest soul, the soul of
Father Kesseler, the hero of the
In October, 1864, just after the ar
rest of the Baltimore merchants, I
visited Sheridan at his headquarters
in the Shenandoah Valley. He had
finished the work of clearing out the
valley by the battle of Cedar Creek
on October 19, and the Government
wanted to recognize the victory by
promoting him to the rank of Major
were 'numerous volunteer officers in
the regular army, and it was regard
ed as a considerable distinction. The
appointment was made, and then, as
an additional compliment to General
Sheridan, instead of sending him the
commission by an ordinary officer
from the department, Mr. Stanton
decided that I would better deliver it.
I started on October 22, going by
special train to Harper's Ferry,
whither I had telegraped for an escort
to be ready for me. I was delayed,
so that I did not get away from
Harper's Ferry until about 3 o'clock
on the morning of October 23. It
was a distance of about fifty miles to
Sheridan, and by riding all day I got
there about 11 o'clock at night.
Sheridan had gone to bed; but in
time of war one never delays in
carrying out orders, whatever their
nature. The, General was awakened
and soon was out of his tent, and
there, by the flare of an army torch,
and in the presence of a few sleepy
aides-de-camp and of my own tired
escort, I presented Sheridan his com
mission as a Major General in the
regular army. He did not say much,
nor could he have been expected to un
der the circumstances, though he
showed lively satisfaction in the Gov
ernment's appreciation of his services,
and spoke most heartily, I recall, of
the manner in which the administra
tion had always supported him.
The next morning after the little
ceremony the General asked me if I
would not like to ride through the
army with him. It was exactly what
I did 'want to do, and we were soon
on horseback and off. We rode
through the entire army that morning,
dismounting now and then to give me
an opportunity to pay my respects to
officers whom I knew. I was struck,
in riding the lines, by the universal
demonstration of affection for Sher
idan. Everybody seemed to be per
sonally attached to him. He was like
the most popular man after an election
the' whole force everywhere honord
him. Finally I said to the General:'
"I wish you would explain one
thing to me. Here I find all these,
people, of every rank generals, ser-
CONTINUED ON FOURTH PAGR.