Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin

 

REV. DEMETRIUS AUGUSTINE GALLITZIN died at Loretto on the 6th of May, 1840. For forty-two years he exercised pastoral functions in Cambria county. The venerable deceased was born in 1770, at Munster, in Germany. His father, Prince de Gallitzin, ranked among the highest nobility in Russia. His mother was the daughter of Field Marshal General de Schmeltan, a celebrated officer under Frederick the Great. Her brother fell at the battle of Jena. The deceased held a high commission in the Russian army from his infancy. Europe, in the early part of his life, was desolated by war-the French revolution burst like a volcano upon that convulsed continent: it offered no facilities or attractions for travel, and it was determined that the young Prince de Gallitzin should visit America. He landed in Baltimore in August, 1792, in company with Rev. Mr. Brosius. By a train of circumstances in which the hand of Providence was strikingly visible, his mind was directed to the ecclesiastical state, and he renounced forever his brilliant prospects. Already endowed with a splendid education, he was the more prepared to pursue his ecclesiastical studies under the venerable Bishop Carroll, at Baltimore, with facility and success. Having completed his theological course, he spent some time on the mission in Maryland. In the year 1799 he directed his course to the Allegheny mountain, and found that portion of it which now constitutes Cambria county a perfect wilderness, almost without inhabitants or habitations. After incredible labor and privations, and expending a princely fortune, he succeeded in making "the wilderness blossom as a rose." His untiring zeal has collected about Loretto, his late residence, a catholic population of three or four thousand. He not only extended the church by his missionary toils, but also illustrated and defended the truth by several highly useful publications. His "Defense of Catholic Principles" has gained merited celebrity both here and in Europe. In this extraordinary man we have not only to admire his renunciation of the brightest hopes and prospects; his indefatigable zeal-but something greater and rarer-his wonderful humility. No one could ever learn from him or his mode of life, what he had been, or what he had exchanged for privation and poverty. To intimate to him that you were aware of his condition, would be sure to pain and displease him. He who might have reveled in the princely halls of his ancestors, was content to spend thirty years in a rude log cabin, almost denying himself the common comforts of life, that he might be able to clothe the naked members of Jesus Christ, the poor and distressed. Few have left behind them such examples of charity and benevolence. On the head of no one have been invoked so many blessings from the mouths of widows and orphans. It maybe literally said of him "If his heart had been made of gold he would have disposed of it all in charity to the poor. (Mountaineer, May 14, 1840.)

 

To this sketch may be properly appended the following Princess Amalia Gallitzin, a lady distinguished for talent and a strong propensity to mysticism. She was the daughter of Count Schmeltan, and lived, during a part of her youth, at the court of the wife of Prince Ferdinand, brother of Frederick the Great. She was married to the Russian prince, Gallitzin; and, as much of his time was passed in traveling, she chose Munster, in the center of Germany, for her permanent residence. Here she assembled around her some of the most distinguished men of the age, Hemsterhuis, Hamann, Jacobi, Goethe, Furstenberg, and others. The two first were her most intimate friends. She was an ardent Catholic, and strongly given to making proselytes. With the exception of her excessive religious zeal, she was an excellent lady in every respect. In the education of her children, she followed Rousseaus system. The princess is the Diotima to whom Hemsterhuis, under the name of Dioklas, addressed his work on Atheism. She died, in 1806, near Munster. Her only son was a missionary in America. (Encycl. Amer.)

 

Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Cambria County, 1896

 

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