1634: The First Catholics in Maryland – Named after Blessed Virgin Mary

1634: The First Catholics in Maryland – Named after Blessed Virgin Mary
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons / Annunciation, Philippe de Champaigne, 1644

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 25 March 1634
  • Maryland was founded as a so-called proprietary colony, owned by Lord Baltimore. Jesuit priest Andrew White was among the first immigrants, and he held the first Holy Mass there on this day.

On this day in 1634, the first immigrant arrived in the British colony at Maryland, which later formed the core of the U.S. state of the same name.

Maryland is particularly interesting because it was reserved for the settlement of Catholic from Great Britain. Indeed, the original owner of the Maryland colony – Lord Baltimore – was a Catholic by faith.

His name was George Calvert, and he bore the title of Baron Baltimore, which allowed him to be addressed as “Lord”.

Maryland was founded as a so-called proprietary colony, which meant that Lord Baltimore was its owner (Lord Proprietor). His title as well as the ownership over the colony were hereditary, so that the first Lord Baltimore was succeeded by his son – Cecil Calvert – who also bore the title Lord Baltimore.

It was after this second Lord Baltimore that the city of Baltimore got its name. That city is today the largest in the U.S. state of Maryland. The state was most likely named after the Blessed Virgin Mary.

There were many Catholic among the first immigrants to Maryland. They were accompanied by Jesuit priest Andrew White, who celebrated the first Holy Mass in his new homeland on this day (it might have actually been the first Catholic Holy Mass in all 13 American colonies).

It is interesting to note that the Catholic holiday of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary falls precisely on this same date.

Lord Baltimore appointed his younger brother Leonard Calvert, who was also among the first immigrants, as the first governor of Maryland.

Interestingly, Lord Baltimore himself never set foot in North America, but governed the colony through intermediaries. The so-called Maryland Day is celebrated on this day in commemoration of the arrival of the first colonists.

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