The archives holds collections and artifacts that exemplify the history of the Diocese. Below can be found some of our more prized or favorite documents and artifacts that have played key roles throughout our history.
This papal bull officially established the diocese of Cleveland on April 23, 1847.
"The sixth provincial council of Baltimore, which opened its sessions, May 10, 1846, under the presidency of Archbishop Eccleton, at the petition of Bishop Purcell recommended to the Holy Father that Cleveland, Sandusky, or Toledo be made the seat of a new diocese in the northern part of Ohio, and that Father Louis Amadeus Rappe be made its first bishop."
-Michael J. Hynes, The History of the Diocese of Cleveland, 1953
Cleveland's first cathedral, St. Mary on the Flats, also known as Our Lady of the Lake, was built in 1837 and completed in 1839. The land contract, right, was made out to Bishop Purell of Cincinnati "in trust for the Roman Catholic Society of Our Lady of the Lake of Cleveland" (M. Hynes, History of the Diocese of Cleveland) on October 24, 1837 for the propery on the corner of Columbus and Girard Streets. Once completed, the church was estimated to have cost $3,000. Charles Auguste Marie Joseph, Count of Forbin-Janson, Bishop of Nancy (France) dedicated the church on June 7, 1840. A model of St. Mary on the Flats, left, is housed in the archives as a reminder of the first Catholic church in Cleveland.
As a result of rising attack on the Catholic Church by the Cleveland press, Bishop Gilmour sought to create a strong Catholic newspaper that could defend the Church in the arena of the press. Salvaging what he could from the older Catholic newspaper, Celtic Index, Bishop Gilmour established the Catholic Universe with its first issue, left, published on July 4, 1874. Its purpose was clear with the triumphant Christ and the motto to be "A Bold and Fearless Advocacy of Catholic Rights and Principles" printed on the front page. After a decline in subscribers at the start of the 20th century, the Catholic Universe was merged with another local Catholic newspaper, the Catholic Bulletin, in 1926 to form the new Universe-Bulletin. The "UB" continued to provided Catholic coverage of local and world events until its final publication on July 3, 2015.
Gifted to Bishop Gilmour in 1888 by Mr. and Mrs. William J. Gordon, this mitre is a prized part of our collection for many reasons. First, its beauty is astonishing with its ornate and richly decorated design which contains gold fabric, old mine diamonds, pearls, silver thread, turquoise, and numerous brooches and earings. The front has a compartment that at one time likely held a relic of the True Cross or a saint. Second, this mitre symbolizes the friendship between Bishop Gilmour and the Gordon family. W. J. Gordon was well respected by the bishop and the two worked closely on charitable works around the city of Cleveland and the diocese. W.J. Gordon was an iron-ore dealer and wholesale grocer who donated what is now Gordon Park to the city of Cleveland at his death.
"This mitre was given by Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Gordon to Bishop Gilmour and his successors. the jewels are those worn by Mrs. Gordon and her daughter, Georgia. The mitre was designed, and the jewels set by Mr. Louis Pequet, who was employed for that purpose by Messrs. Benziger Bros., New York. Bishop Gilmour wore the mitre for the first time on Pentacost Sunday, 1888."
-G. F. Houck, 1st Chancellor of the Diocese of Cleveland
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