Saturday, March 17, 2012


A couple of weeks ago found myself on the west side of old St. Patrick's church in lower Manhattan, the Roman Catholic cathedral for 70 years, until the new St. Patrick's was build in Midtown. I had passed it before, but this time noticed a sign to the effect that the entrance was on the east side. I arrived there just as did a crowd of high school students and some nuns. I asked one of the the latter about a famous early bishop of New York, and she pointed me to the markers. John DuBois, third bishop of New York, was French by birth and upbringing. It is said that he did not get along with the laymen, mostly Irish, who controlled the finances of the diocese, and requested that he be buried under the pavements, so that they might walk over him dead as they had walked over him alive. Certainly there is a marker just to the right of the entrance, with a plaque above it at chest height. Yet surely there are men buried under the aisles of cathedrals who were rulers in their sees. In any case, DuBois was succeeded by the Irish-born John Hughes, who seems to have had a better time of it.

Many blocks uptown, I found myself passing Marble Collegiate Church. There one sees a statue of its long-time pastor, Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking, among many other books. He was pastor of the church for 52 years, almost exactly three times the length of DuBois's episcopacy.

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