March 24, 2021
Dear Friends in Christ,
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Cardinal James Gibbons. A native son of Baltimore, he was the second American to be elevated to the College of Cardinals, a hero to the labor movement, a champion of ecumenism and an advisor to presidents.
More than any other Catholic, not excepting Archbishop John Carroll, Cardinal James Gibbons was embraced by his country. He was personable, outgoing and seldom without a smile.
Cardinal Gibbons, the ninth Archbishop of Baltimore, was well loved. A news report in the Catholic Review at the time of his funeral estimated that more than 150,000 persons viewed his body as he lay in state at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, then the archdiocesan cathedral.
“These mourners were of all classes of life,” the Review reported. “State and city officials, the rich and the poor, the banker and the laborer.”
After the funeral Mass, the body of Cardinal Gibbons was interred in the crypt beneath the sanctuary, opposite Archbishop John Carroll, America’s first bishop.
A bronze statue of Cardinal Gibbons stands near the front doors of the Baltimore Basilica, at the corner of Mulberry and Cathedral streets. Another bust of the cardinal is inside the basilica, where he presided over the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, which produced the most comprehensive body of legislation for the Catholic Church in America.
As we mark the 100th anniversary of Cardinal Gibbons’ passing into eternal life, please pray for the repose of his soul. Reflect on his contributions to church life, not only in Maryland but also across the country, and his influence in Rome.
At the top of this message, you will find a video of the special Mass offered earlier this month to mark the anniversary of Cardinal Gibbons’ death. Please take some time to watch it.
For more information on Cardinal Gibbons and his impact, also see: