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Vincit qui patitur: THE TRIALS OF A GREAT-HEARTED BISHOP

December 6, 2015 Leave a comment
diram qui contudit hydram Ev’n he who crush’d the far-famed Hydra’s rage
notaque fatali portenta labore And dared so long a fateful war to wage
subegit, With monsters dire, those monsters all o’erthrown,
comperit invidiam supremo Found Envy could be quell’d by Death alone.
fine domari. — Horace Ep. 2.1.10-12 Tr. Francis Howes (London 1845)
George Washington Doane, the Bishop of New Jersey 1832-1859, in an early photograph. Brady-Handy Collection, Library of Congress.

George Washington Doane, Bishop of New Jersey 1832-1859, in an early photograph. Brady-Handy Collection, Library of Congress.

A tale is told that in Burlington, one October morning, a snake met a swift and grisly end beneath the heel of George Washington Doane.

On the streets of a small riverfront city of the mid-1800s, seeing a snake would have been fairly commonplace, but the man in this encounter was far from ordinary. Soon to complete his twentieth year as the bishop of New Jersey, he had long held a place of eminence not only in his church but in the civic and cultural life of the state and nation. Thanks to a rare combination of exceptional intellect, talent and zeal, together with a genial nature and seemingly boundless energy, he was at once venerated and controversial. Any preacher might have thought, as he “kicked the now harmless carcass off the sidewalk, and quietly went on his way,” of the biblical curse on the serpent, doomed to eternal enmity with the human race. But on this day Doane faced a more personal foe: he was fighting for his very survival as a bishop, and this had emerged as a day of destiny.[1]

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MOST FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH

December 16, 2012 Leave a comment
Details of windows at St. Ladislaus Church, in New Brunswick (above), and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in Woodbridge (below).

Detail of window at St. Ladislaus Church, in New Brunswick, designed by Asztrik Kákonyi.

Ego sum, wrote Michael Kováts, libertate et natione Hungarica praeditus. But the facts seemed at variance with that proud introduction. As his letter went on to reveal, the 52-year-old Kováts had a record of long service to foreign powers, principally the king of Prussia, where despite a noble lineage he had been compelled to enroll in the army as a raw recruit. Through harsh discipline he had risen to be a captain in the Free Hussars, a light cavalry unit that took its uniform, tactics and name from his native Hungary. Nevertheless, Kováts faced strict limits on his vaunted liberty and, when he finally resigned his post and returned to his homeland, he was beset with personal and financial problems. Now, at the start of 1777, he was in France seeking a new employer, and not a European one.

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Tela inter Martia : A SALEM SOJOURN

Old Pittsgrove (formerly Pilesgrove) Presbyterian Church (1767)

In colonial New Jersey, all loyal and peaceful subjects of the Crown were guaranteed the right to “their Judgments and Consciences in matters of Religion.”[1]   A visit to one of the most pastoral areas of the state teaches us that the coexistence of different communities of faith does not always ensure peace within them.

William Tennent and his sons – all of them ministers – would become catalysts for controversy not long after their arrival from Ireland in 1718.  Read more…

Omnia Mors Æquat : REMEMBERING A JERSEY PROPRIETOR

January 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Coat of arms from the tomb of David Lyell, with motto “Sedulo et Honeste” above the crest.

The language spoken by New Jersey’s aboriginal peoples lives on in many of its place names, notably those of rivers and creeks on which the lives of the Lenape depended.  They include the Musconetcong, Assunpink, Crosswicks, Rancocas and Cohansey, all flowing more or less westward, and the Metedeconk, Manasquan, Raritan and Passaic, which drain in the direction of New Jersey’s eastern shores.

For centuries, these and many smaller waterways have guided the migrations and settlement patterns of indigenous inhabitants and newcomers alike.  The name of one, Topanemus Brook in Monmouth County, first appears in 1686, in the record of a sale by five “Indian owners and Sachems” to the British proprietors of East New Jersey.  Read more…

LOST AND FOUND

November 11, 2011 Leave a comment

“Mr. Parry, can you read Latin?”

“I ought to be able to do so a bit, Mr. Dooley.  Why do you ask?”

This exchange, recalled years later, would set Samuel Parry on a quest whose fulfillment seems little short of miraculous.  The inscription which the Presbyterian minister found is today placed prominently on the front of the church where he served as pastor from 1873 to 1906, in the village of Pluckemin (Bedminster Township, Somerset County).[1]   It comes, however, from a more ancient congregation of Lutherans, mostly of German origin, who had a church on the same site.

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