Bishop Lawrence Scanlan

Bishop_Lawrence_Scanlan

Judging from his photograph, Lawrence Scanlan, first Catholic Bishop of Utah, was not a man to be trifled with, and perhaps that was a factor that helped him get along with Mormons so well as he established Catholicism in their Zion.  Not long after Father Scanlan arrived in Utah, he was invited by the Mormons in Saint George, Utah to use their tabernacle to say Mass.  They even supplied a chorus that could sing Latin High Mass!

Respect for Catholicism had been planted in Mormonism at the start.  The Mormon prophet Joseph Smith gave this speech when an Ursuline Convent was burned in Boston in 1834:  :”The early settlers of Boston . . . who had fled from their mother country to avoid persecution and death, soon became so lost to principles of justice and religious liberty as to whip and hang the Baptist and the Quaker, who, like themselves, had fled from tyranny to a land of freedom; and the Fathers of Salem, from 1691 to 1693, whipped, imprisoned, tortured, and hung many of their citizens for supposed witchcraft; and quite recently, while boasting of her light and knowledge, of her laws and religion, as surpassed by none on earth, has New England been guilty of burning a Catholic convent in the vicinity of Charlestown, and of scattering the inmates to the four winds; yes, in sight of the very spot where the fire of the American Independence was first kindled, where a monument is now erecting in memory of the battle of Bunker Hill, and the fate of the immortal Warren, who bled, who died on those sacred heights, to purchase religious liberty for his country; in sight of this very spot, have the religionists of the nineteenth century demolished a noble brick edifice, hurling its inhabitants forth upon a cold, unfeeling world for protection and subsistence.”

Knowing severe religious persecution in their early years, the Mormons felt a kinship to other persecuted religious groups, including Jews and Catholics.  Prior to Father Scanlan arriving in Utah, Brigham Young helped Father Mathew Kelly get the land to build the first Catholic Church in Salt Lake City.

The good relations persisted through the years as he traveled about the Territory saying Mass for the scattered Catholic population.  He brought the Sisters of the Holy Cross from Indiana to establish Saint Mary’s Academy and Holy Cross Hospital.

On November 23, 1886, Pope Leo XIII consecrated Scanlan Vicar Apostolic of Utah and Titular Bishop of Lavenden.  On January 30, 1891 he was made first Bishop of Salt Lake City.  He complete work on the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City in 1909.  He died in 1915, mourned by Catholics and Mormons alike as a living link to the heroic pioneering period of Utah history.

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Published in: on June 4, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Bishop Lawrence Scanlan  
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