- historical event: Maryland was the only Catholic colony in British North America. It was named after the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is particularly revered among Catholics. The capital of Maryland was named Baltimore after the owner of that colony – Lord Baltimore.
On this day in 1789, the oldest Catholic diocese in the United States was established. It was located in the city of Baltimore, in the U.S. state of Maryland. Selecting the city of Baltimore was not accidental. Namely, the former British colony of Maryland was founded by Lord Baltimore, Catholic by faith. At this time, many Catholics suffered persecution at the hands of British authorities.
Lord Baltimore was able to obtain a grant for Maryland from British King Charles I, who was indeed a Protestant by faith, but was sympathetic towards Catholics. It should be known bloody and prolonged conflicts of Protestants and Catholics had existed in Britain since the 16th century. Most British kings persecuted Catholics, sometimes very violently. King Charles I was something of an exception, because he tolerated Catholics. He even married a Catholic – Princess Henrietta Maria of France.
Maryland thus became the only Catholic colony in British North America. The name of that colony itself reveals a Catholic background, because Catholics especially revere the Blessed Virgin Mary. The capital of Maryland was named Baltimore after the owner of that colony, the mentioned Lord Baltimore.
On this day Pope Pius VI founded a diocese in Baltimore, the first in the United States. Until then, American Catholics were subjected to the English Catholic hierarchy. John Carroll from the famous Carroll family – one of the most important Catholic families in U.S. history – was appointed as the first bishop of Baltimore. Namely, the bishop’s brother, Daniel Carroll, was one of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States and one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution. Their cousin, Charles Carroll, was the famous signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence (the only Catholic who signed it) and the first senator of Maryland.
To this day, the Archbishop of Baltimore remains the highest ranking prelate in the United States.