Project Canterbury The Early Days at St. Clement's, Philadelphia
By Franklin Joiner
American Church Monthly volume 35, 1934
pp 100-108, 220-231, 298-306
MANY of our great Catholic parishes were founded by groups of individuals who wanted to promote the Catholic Movement in the American Church. But St. Clement's, Philadelphia, cannot claim such a foundation. There is nothing outstanding about the beginnings of the work. It was simply a parish established to care for Episcopalians in a new and growing residential section of the city, and for the first fourteen years of its existence it was in no way different from the average parish of its day. Its present position as one of the outstanding Catholic parishes in the Church is the result of a long and steady development. The advance was not an easy or a smooth one. Every step was gained and held by a hard-fought battle. Today the parish stands as a living memorial to great priests and faithful people who fought bravely and suffered patiently under heartbreaking opposition and persecution. Because of their faithfulness and their devotion we today enjoy the privileges of the Catholic Faith. I purpose in these articles to give some data from the records of St. Clement's Church which will serve to illustrate at what price our freedom has been purchased.
On September 13th, 1855 a charter was granted to "The Rector, Church Wardens, and Vestrymen of St. Clement's Church in the City of Philadelphia." The first rector was the Rev. Henry S. Spackman, who was elected as soon as the charter was received, and his rectorship began officially on January 1st, 1856. Henry S. Spackman was the son of Samuel Spackman, a prominent shipping merchant of Philadelphia. He was born March 13th, 1811, and was admitted to the Bar April 11th, 1832. Political life had great charms for him, and he entered the arena of politics, and was elected to the State Legislature at the early age of twenty-three years. For several years he was a member, first of the House of Representatives, then of the Senate. He distinguished himself by his bravely acting, in peril of his life, as Speaker pro tem of the Senate during the notorious "Buck Shot War." Notwithstanding his excessive nearsightedness he was a great student. He was also a debater of consummate skill. In 1844 his attention was awakened to the subject of religion, and, after a careful examination of the different schools of theology, he became convinced of the truth of the doctrines held by the Episcopal Church. In 1846 he was ordained deacon in St. Philip's Church, Philadelphia, and was elected rector of St. Mark's Church, Frankford. Here he fearlessly devoted himself to those stricken by "ship fever" during a great epidemic of that disease. In 1847 he was ordained priest. He continued at St. Mark's, Frankford, until 1853, when he accepted the position of assistant priest at St. Matthew's Church, Francisville, during the rectorship of the Rev. Dr. George Emlen Hare.
The corner-stone of St. Clement's Church was laid on May 12th, 1856, by the Rt. Rev. Alonzo Potter, D.D., third Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. The sermon on this occasion was preached by the Rev. E. A. Washburn, Rector of St. Mark's Church on Locust Street.
The land on which St. Clement's was built was furnished by William S. Wilson, who it is said was both a friend and a relative of Dr. Spademan. He owned most of the land in this section of Philadelphia and was eager that a church should be built, not so much because of any religious devotion on his part, but because he felt the erection of a church would greatly enhance the attractiveness of his residential projects. Wilson's arrangement with the vestry was under the old "land rent" system and the parish was obliged to pay S855 annually in land rent. Mr. Wilson also gave some $9,000 in cash towards the building fund, and when the interest on this sum was added to the land rent the total yearly payment amounted to $1,400. So much is clear in the old records. Almost immediately, however, the whole financial side of the building operation became so involved that at this time it would probably be impossible to disentangle it. Whenever additional money was needed, the vestry seems to have applied to Mr. Wilson, and in return for his advances of money blocks of pews in the church were deeded to him. The common impression seems to have been that Mr. Wilson entered into the original arrangement merely as an investment. If this be true he soon found the plan a poor one, for very few payments of the ground rent or of the interest are recorded as having been paid during Mr. Wilson's life. Frequently he cancelled the money due, and offered it to the vestry as a "contribution." If he did not do this, another pew would be transferred to him in lieu of settlement. He was not a Churchman, yet he had a real deep interest in the Church and its welfare, and his memory is perpetuated at St. Clement's by the "Corporal Works of Mercy" window in the north aisle of the nave.
When Mr. Wilson died in 1870 his estate held deeds to some one-third of the pews in the church, as well as a number of unpaid notes for various loans. There were also arrearages in ground rent and overdue interest, so that St. Clement's total indebtedness to the Wilson estate amounted to over $40,000. A compromise was effected in 1877 by mortgaging the buildings for $10,000 and turning this sum over to the trustees of his estate, in return for a deed to all the pews held by Mr. .Wilson, and for a receipt in full for all the money owed him by the parish. Although the early transactions with Mr. Wilson produced a financial muddle which was later to be so troublesome, a review of the minutes of the vestry for the first twenty years leaves one with the impression that St. Clement's could never have survived those early days without the benefactions of this Presbyterian real estate promoter.
John Notman was the architect for St. Clement's. He also designed and built St. Mark's Church on Locust Street, the Church of the Holy Trinity in Rittenhouse Square, and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Logan Square. The building was some three years in erection, because of the recurring financial difficulties. Contemporary evidence indicates that at one time all work was stopped and the building stood roofless for a long period. It was opened however for services on the first Sunday in January, 1859, just four years after Dr. Spackman's election as rector. The sermon at this opening service was preached by the Rt. Rev. Samuel Bowman, D.D., Assistant Bishop of the Diocese. There is no record of any services for the congregation before the opening of the new church building.
Dr. Spackman resigned January 1st, 1863, when his failing health obliged him to give up this arduous task, and he entered at once on the duties as chaplain of the large Military Hospital in Chestnut Hill. In 1865 he accepted the rectorship of Trinity Church, Williamsport, another new enterprise. In 1868 he resigned this charge, and took the position of chaplain at the Episcopal Hospital in Philadelphia. Here he died, after a stroke of paralysis, February 9th, 1875, in the 64th year of his age. "Firm in his friendships, sympathetic in his nature, liberal in his views, free from selfishness, faithful at the sick bed, afraid of no consequences, he fearlessly and zealously tried to do his duty."
On March 22nd, following Dr. Spackman's resignation, the Rev. Treadwell Walden was called from the rectorship of Christ Church in Norwich, Connecticut, to be the second rector of St. Clement's. The church was consecrated on Tuesday, April 12th, 1864. A pamphlet issued on this occasion refers to the fact that a debt of $30,000 on the church building had been "extinguished" in 1863, and that a sinking fund for the "extinguishment" of the ground rent had been established. Technically the building was free from encumbrance and the consecration went forward. Bishop Potter again officiated, and was assisted by Bishop Stevens, who was then the Assistant Bishop in the diocese, and Bishop Lee of Delaware. Again the Rev. Dr. Washburn was the preacher. The service was Morning Prayer and "Ante-Communion." A small photograph of the interior of the church at this period would not indicate that any "extremes" in ceremonial were part of St. Clement's practice. The tiny altar is raised on one step and has four small empty vases. The organ was then in the west gallery, but there are choir-wise stalls crowded into the tiny apse.
The influence of the Catholic Revival on the parish began with the election of the Rev. Herman Griswold Batterson in March 1869, to succeed the Rev. Treadwell Walden who had resigned. Dr. Batterson was a well known figure in the Church previously to this because of his official connection with the "Guild of the Holy Cross," a devotional guild which had as its aim the development of the Catholic life amongst the members of the Church. It would seem also that he had some contact with the Cowley Fathers, for one of the charges of the vestry in 1870 was that Dr. Batterson had allowed Fr. Prescott, S.S.J.E., to hear confessions in the church. According to diocesan records he was received into the Diocese of Pennsylvania in 1869 from the Diocese of Minnesota. In the same year the Rev. William Henry Nassau Stewart, LL.D., a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, was appointed to be Assistant Priest to Dr. Batterson. He was both an eloquent preacher, and a great teacher, and when Dr. Batterson resigned, he became prominent in his fiery attack upon Bishop Stevens at the Diocesan Convention of 1874.
Dr. Batterson began, immediately upon his accession, to teach the Catholic faith, and by him were laid the foundation stones for all that St. Clement's has been able to accomplish in the past, and for which she still bears witness today.
It was at this time that the monthly Parish Magazine was instituted in the parish, and one of the early numbers indicates that the Holy Communion was celebrated every Sunday at 8 A.M., on the first Sunday of the month at the 10:30 service "immediately after the sermon," and on "Festivals and Holy Days" at 9 A.M. The Mass did not take the place of Morning Prayer as the regular late Service at St. Clement's until St. Clement's Day, 1883, which is more than seven years after the Cowley Fathers took over the parish. Previous to this date the listed Sunday morning services are "Celebrations: 7, 8, 9:45; Matins 11." Later there are notices of celebrations of the Holy Communion on an increasing number of days. In another one of these early magazines the following notice appears:
It is with feelings of great thankfulness that the Rector is able to announce that the Choral Service will be introduced at St. Clement's Church on the First Sunday in Advent. It adds not a little to his pleasure to know that the majority of the congregation desires it as heartily as he does. . . . Of those who do not favour such a Service, the Rector asks that they have patience, and also that they give it a fair trial.
Running through the files of these early magazines we find an article on the "Relations of the Rector, Vestry, and People," stressing the Rector's prerogatives in the matter of services; articles on "Fasting and Abstinence," "Frequent Communion," and "Preparation for Communion"; and also many pleas for non-Communicants to remain through the "late Celebration." During one Lent there was a series of lectures on "Repentance," and also a lecture by the Rev. George Franklin Seymour, later to be Bishop of Springfield, but then a Professor at the General Theological Seminary, on "The Church of the English Reformation, an Old Church Restored, not a New One Created."
So was the stage set for the first "ritual row" at St. Clement's, and the time was at hand for the first move in a controversy which was not to be settled finally for almost seventeen years. Its first indication is found in a report of a vestry meeting held in November 1870. The magazine article already referred to, on the relations of the rector and vestry, would indicate that there had already been some friction. In later years Dr. Batterson always claimed that the controversy actually started when he placed a plain wooden cross on the altar with two small wooden candlesticks. These created a great disturbance. Some of the wealthiest families withdrew, and one Sunday morning these altar ornaments were missing. Someone had stolen them. Months later they were found buried in the old rear garden of the church, where the present clergy house stands.
Our story can best be told by following the parish records, both as they are set down in the minutes of the vestry meetings, and in the many references in the Parish Magazines. At the meeting of the vestry held on November 9th, 1870, three resolutions were presented, and the first two were adopted. The first one was offered by Mr. P. Pemberton Morris, the Rector's Warden. It resolved "that in the opinion of the vestry, the ritual of this church should conform to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America." The second was presented by another member of the vestry, and resolved "that no alterations or additions shall be made in the furniture or the fixtures of the chancel, without the consent of the vestry." The third one was more specific. After a series of "whereas" clauses to the effect that "great and radical changes" had lately been made in the services, it requested the rector to dispense with: processional and recessional hymns; changing stoles: the use of lighted candles in the chancel; the invocation before the sermon; the standing of the choir and congregation during the "presentation of the offertory"; and changing the furniture of the church.
The next meeting of the vestry was held on St. Clement's Day. The rector opened the business of the meeting by reading a prepared protest against the resolutions presented and voted on at the last meeting. When the rector had finished his protest, Mr. Morris put three questions to him. The first two had to do with the hearing of confessions and prayers for the dead, and the third with the mixed chalice. From this time on the battle was waged mainly on the first two very fundamental matters, all other items coming into the discussions in a more or less incidental way.
Dr. Batterson did his best to be conciliatory. He was willing to go far in order to keep the peace. It was never proved that prayers for the dead had been used publicly in St. Clement's up to this time, and the rector said he would not continue the practice until he had an opportunity "to look into the question more thoroughly." But naturally he would make no concessions whatever in regard to auricular confession and priestly absolution.
On January 18th, 1871, Mr. Morris expressed a willingness to meet the rector's advances, and asked the vestry to appoint a committee, to consist of the rector and himself, "to confer on this subject and report a basis for mutual satisfactory adjustment of differences." This action was taken by the vestry. When the rector and his warden met, each one drew up a memorandum of his position in order to clarify the issue. Mr. Morris then suggested that these memoranda be forwarded to the Bishop of the diocese for his decision. He subsequently stated that Dr. Batterson agreed to this procedure and approved of the letter sent to the Diocesan. This the rector flatly denied, stating that he "was entirely opposed to it, as not authorized by the vestry, and for other reasons which he very well knew." What the "other reasons" were are perfectly clear, and they make it highly improbable that Dr. Batterson would agree to refer the matter to the Bishop, whose decision in such a case was a fore-gone conclusion. The Bishop of Pennsylvania at this time was the Rt. Rev. William Bacon Stevens, D.D., who had succeeded Bishop Potter in 1865. Bishop Stevens was a noted scholar and a great administrator, but his opposition to anything remotely resembling Catholicism was well known. As we shall see as we progress with our story, he was ever filled with a mighty zeal to "banish and drive away from that portion of the Church over which the Holy Ghost hath made [him] Overseer" all of the well-known "erroneous and strange doctrines."
If there had been any doubt as to the Bishop's stand in matters of this kind, his letter of February 6th, 1871, addressed to Mr. Morris speedily dissolved it. The whole letter illustrates so well the sort of opposition which Catholic-minded priests of the last century had to face, that it bears quoting at length. It is interesting to note that Bishop Stevens never once refers to the Articles of Religion, which have been so evident in anti-Catholic controversy in more recent years.
The Bishop first takes up the matter of confession. From his point of view he proves quite conclusively to himself that the American Prayer Book wholly repudiates sacramental confession except in the case of prisoners under sentence of death. Then he rises to great heights in a long peroration:
. . . She recognizes no inherent right in the Minister to hear confession and grant absolution . . . and by her legislation, direct and indirect, has protested against private confessionals and private absolution. . . . The history of the Confessional is one of the foulest pages in the annals of the Church of Rome, God forbid that there should be any revival of such a system in our Church. There is nothing that will more invade the sanctity of domestic life and destroy the purity of woman's heart; nothing that will breed more loathsome ideas in the minds of the so-called Penitents, and foster lust and crime in the so-called Father-Confessors, than the teaching and practice of private auricular confession, and private Priestly absolution. Our American Church, by excluding everything from her Liturgy that savours of such a doctrine, has wisely guarded against this evil. For, however mild and pure this may appear in its first beginnings, it will not long remain so, for the system advocated only needs a vantage ground and a little headway, to become as debauching in its results, to the mind, and soul and body, as the system which it imitates has already proved itself to be all over the world.
Next the Bishop considers the matter of prayers for the departed, and comes to the conclusion that "there is not a single passage of Canonical Scripture, nor a sentence in the book of Common Prayer of the Protestant Episcopal Church, that warrants or countenances, by any fair and honest interpretation, Prayers for the Dead." He concludes this section of his statement by another, although shorter, flight of rhetoric.
When we consider that errors of the gravest sort have clustered around this doctrine of praying for the dead, that out of it grew the fearful errors of Masses for the Dead and the horrors of Purgatory, we cannot but be thankful that the framers of our Prayer Book left out of it everything that could be justly construed as teaching or countenancing such an error.
Concerning "bowings to the Altar and prostrations before it by Clergy and Choristers," he considers them "novelties with no warrant or sanction from any rubric or usage of our Communion." They symbolize
. . . the Romish doctrine of a local and objective Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ on the Holy Table. . . . This I consider to be one of the most specious and dangerous of all the errors now so subtly inculcated by the pulpit and the press; for it is the germ out of which naturally grows the whole ritualistic system, and once admitted and logically followed out, the only sequence is submission to the Church of Rome.
As to mingling water with the wine in the chalice "in the chancel," "the American Church neither by rubric, canon, or usage, sanctions this practice, and I request that it henceforth be omitted."
There is no authority for "colored vestments of any kind in our Church" and therefore the use of colored stoles must be discontinued; ". . . the uninterrupted usage of seventy years of our experience as a National Church condemns the practice."
In closing, the Bishop says, "If, as I trust, Dr. Batterson recognizes himself bound by his ordination vows ... he will, I am sure, yield to the decisions here given."
This letter from the Bishop was duly read by Mr. Morris at the vestry meeting of February 16th, 1871, and the rector was asked what he intended to do about it. In reply Dr. Batterson said that the vestry had nothing more to do with the matter, and that he would refuse to discuss it further in any vestry meeting. The following week a resolution was passed by the vestry, and it would seem that a copy of it was sent to the Bishop, requesting the rector to "conform in teachings, practice and ritual ... to the requirements and requests of the Bishop."
The last document in this phase of the matter is an open letter to the parishioners of St. Clement's Church, dated March 20th, 1871, in which Dr. Batterson states that he finally feels it is his duty, for the sake of the parish, to repel the "outrageous slanders, the wilful fabrications, the malicious reports, which have been so persistently circulated regarding the teaching, practice and ritual at St. Clement's." He gives a complete history of the matter and thus formally announces his decision:
I therefore announce to you that I shall maintain those services, and no word of teaching which I have given you during my rectorship, will I retract; on the contrary, I will maintain and defend it to the last.
Thus Dr. Batterson ended the first period of this very trying time, as he stood on his canonical rights as rector of the parish and refused to submit to the dictates of a hostile vestry which was very obviously being aided and abetted by the Diocesan. By this time the newspapers had scented a sensational story and seem to have carried every day some lurid headlines on the subject. Indeed until Bishop Steven's death in 1887, no single item of the controversy escaped the newspaper reporters; a sign of great efficiency on their part, but an element in the situation which made it doubly hard for the faithful to bear.
THE next unpleasantness was not very long in materializing. On April 10th, 1871, the regular annual election of vestrymen was held. It was obvious that Dr. Batterson would attempt to have a new vestry elected, and it is clear from the records that the congregation was in well over a majority, supporting the rector. But the charter provided, and unfortunately still provides, that the only persons entitled to vote in vestry elections were "such members of the Church as shall appear by the vestry-books to have paid two successive years, immediately preceding the time of such election, for a pew or sitting." Thus the large majority of the members of the congregation had no voice in the election. The judges of this election were named by the March vestry meeting, and as some disturbance was anticipated, a resolution was passed empowering the judges "to take any legal opinions which they desired in regard to the election and that the fees to counsel, if any, should be paid by the vestry."
The result of the election, according to the decision of the judges, was the re-election of the old vestry with nineteen votes. The nominees for an entirely new vestry were, according to the same judges, defeated, since they received but seventeen votes. A week later, April 18th, the defeated individuals filed a request in the Supreme Court for a writ of quo warranto, representing that four of those voting for the old vestry should have been disqualified, and that six votes for the new group had been illegally thrown out by the judges; that actually a majority of votes had been cast for the plaintiffs; and that, therefore, they were being deprived of their lawful rights. Pursuant to their request such a writ was issued by the Court, the defendants being ordered to appear and explain their apparent usurpation of the privileges of the plaintiffs. The writ was returnable on May 1st, and on that date, briefs having been filed, the case was continued. No decision seems to have been handed down in the case, for the old vestry continued in office until the next Easter elections.
Dr. Batterson had presided at the vestry meeting of April 11th, stating for the record that, although the election was to be contested, he would recognize the present vestry pro tem. He then proceeded with the regular business of the meeting by appointing committees from the assembled group. The next meeting empowered the vestry to retain counsel to fight the quo warranto proceedings.
On May 3rd the vestry met again and, with the rector in the chair, offered a resolution dissolving the pastoral relation between the rector with his assistant (Dr. Stewart) and the parish. The resolution contained the statement that the action was taken "with the concurrence of the Ecclesistical Authority of the Diocese." Dr. Batterson having refused to put the motion, the secretary did so, and the resolution was passed unanimously. At a meeting three days later a letter from Bishop Stevens dated May 4th was ordered spread upon the minutes which stated that "the Ecclesistical Authority of the Diocese concurs with the action taken by the vestry in dissolving the pastoral connection between it and the Minister and Assistant Minister of St. Clement's Church." According to the newspaper clippings of this period, some of the vestrymen declared they would, if necessary, lock the church buildings against Dr. Batterson if he persisted in attempting to hold services. I am glad to say that there is no mention of any such threat in any formal records of the vestry and their meetings.
On the 4th of May a Bill in-Equity was filed in the Court of Common Pleas for the County of Philadelphia by the rector and his assistant, praying '''the restraint of the defendant vestrymen from interfering in any way with the exercise of their offices." A temporary injunction against the vestry was granted by the Court and at the vestry meeting of June 6th it was reported that the Court had continued this injunction "until a regular and canonical dissolution of the connection then existing . . . shall take place in accordance with the constitution and canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania and in the United States."
This period at hand must have been a very difficult one for Dr. Batterson. With the duty before him of ministering faithfully to the congregation committed to his charge, and there is not a single intimation on the part of any that he was not a faithful and true pastor, and with his people a united body standing loyally with him, he must preside month after month over a vestry which was doing all in its power to hurt him and his ministry. In the midst of such disruption it is to be expected that the affairs of the parish would deteriorate, and although Dr. Batterson seems to have collected a considerable amount of money, the finances, never stable in the past, became even more involved. So the situation continued until the next annual election on April 1st, 1872, when the vestry that had been adjudged defeated the previous year, was elected and entered into office. The newly elected vestry convened on the following day and its first action was to expunge from the minutes the resolution of May 3rd, 1871, which purported to "dissolve the pastoral connection, etc." This action was taken, according to the motion, not only because this action of the old vestry was illegal, but chiefly because "the resolutions were at that time, have thence continued, and now are in direct opposition to the wishes of a large majority of the members of this church." A copy of this action was forwarded to the Diocesan. When the other routine business had been disposed of, Dr. Batterson tendered his resignation as rector of St. Clement's to take effect on April 10th. He was broken in health by the long continued and bitter controversies, and, having remained faithfully at his post until the Catholic future of the parish was reasonably sure, he felt he could retire. The present vestry was most devoted to the rector and very reluctant to accept the resignation, and the Dr. was most warmly urged to reconsider the matter. But when they realized that the continued care of the parish would seriously endanger his health, they accepted the resignation in a resolution, which we to-day may endorse with a loud A-men:?
RESOLVED, that we tender our expressions of confidence in him as a Christian Priest and as a man, and that we record with thankfulness his patience in the midst of unusual trials, not only to the parish but to himself.
Here the first mention is made of Mass vestments in connection with St. Clement's Church. Until now the only suggestions have been made concerning colored stoles. On April 11th a motion was passed in the vestry meeting that St. Clement's "purchase from Dr. Batterson his chasuble (white linen), alb and stole at the price of $50.
After a few years Dr. Batterson returned to Philadelphia and became rector of the Church of the Merciful Saviour at 12th and Diamond Streets. During his rectorate here the present church building was erected and the name of the church changed to The Annunciation. After this he was unofficially connected with the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York City, and was a generous contributor to the building of the present church of that name. His body lies buried in the churchyard of the Church of St. James the Less in Philadelphia, where also is buried his assistant priest at St. Clement's, Dr. Stewart.
Dr. Batterson's confidence in this new vestry at St. Clement's, which he himself had trained in the Catholic faith, was not misplaced, for the nominations for his successor at St. Clement's included the names of Fr. Prescott, S.S.J.E., Dr. DeKoven and Dr. Seymour. Both Dr. DeKoven and Dr. Seymour were prominent at this time for their bold championship of the Catholic cause in the General Conventions of the Church. In the Convention of 1871, in connection with the proposed ""Ritual Canon," Dr. DeKoven had challenged the House of Deputies to present him for trial for heresy because of his acknowledged belief in the Real Presence in the eucharist. And in the General Convention of 1874 great commotion was aroused because Dr. Seymour's recent election as Bishop of Illinois was refused confirmation for a time due to his well known leanings towards "ritualism."
On June 11th, 1872, Dr. Stewart, who had been assistant priest to Dr. Batterson during his entire rectorship at St. Clement's and who was now priest-in-charge of the parish, was unanimously elected rector, but he declined to serve. After some other elections and declinations, the Rev. Theodore M. Riley of Winona, Minnesota was elected, accepted the election, and arrived in Philadelphia in time for the First Sunday in Advent, 1872.
Upon his arrival in the city, Dr. Riley called upon Bishop Stevens and presented his Letters Dimissory from the Bishop of Minnesota, which Bishop Stevens refused to accept until Dr. Riley would agree to make certain changes in the usages at St. Clement's. These requirements are set forth in a letter from Bishop Stevens dated January 22nd, 1873.
1. That no Ecclesiastical Vestments or Ornaments be worn by any of the Clergy, other than those which have been generally used by the ministers of our Church, in this Diocese and in the United States.
2. That the wine administered at the Holy Communion be not mingled with water.
3. That all genuflections, prostrations, or bowings to or before the Lord's Table be discontinued by the Clergy and Choristers.
4. That there shall be no elevation during or after the Prayer of Consecration in the Order of the Administration of the Holy Communion, of the Paten and Cup, and no kneelings or prostrations before the Consecrated Elements.
5. That there shall be no lighted candles on the Communion Table during the Celebration of the Holy Communion, when such candles are not needed for the purpose of giving light.
6. That no prayers, sentences, rites, or ceremonies borrowed from other "uses" or services shall be introduced into the order of worship,, which have not the express sanction of the Book of Common Prayer of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
7. That the hearing of private Confessions and the granting of private Absolutions, other than in the exceptional cases referred to in the exhortation to the Holy Communion and the Order for the Visitation of Prisoners, shall be discontinued.
To these very modest demands the Bishop adds the following paragraph:?
In specifying these points I indicate only the more noted innovations which have come to my knowledge, and do not by any means imply that I approve all other practices not herein specified; as such an inference would be wide of the truth.
He closes with:
Hoping that you will accede to these official requests, and submit yourself to my judgment as your lawful Ordinary. . .
The controversy dragged on for many months. The full correspondence not having been preserved, all the details are not clear. However, through it all, Dr. Riley seems to have gone on as rector of the parish. After a long delay Bishop Stevens. agreed to accept the Letters Dimissory inasmuch as Dr. Riley refused to discuss the matters of ritual on the ground that the Ordinary in this diocese had no canonical jurisdiction over him.. The Letters Dimissory having been accepted, the Bishop then, refused to issue the canonical certificate until Dr. Riley should accede to his requests. Again Dr. Riley declined to discuss the matter until the certificate, showing his canonical connection with the Diocese of Pennsylvania was in his hands. Apparently the Bishop of Minnesota protested to Bishop Stevens on behalf of Dr. Riley, for there was considerable correspondence between the two Bishops on the subject. Finally the certificate was issued. Upon its receipt, Dr. Riley took up the matter of the Bishop's requests and "respectfully declined" to accede to them. In response the Bishop sent a characteristic letter stating that it was "with intense sorrow of heart" that he felt compelled by his own Consecration vows to "advertise" that Dr. Riley had broken his Ordination oath. "You have thus offended against the common order of the Church," he wrote, "have hurt the authority of the magistrate, and wounded the conscience of the weaker brethren." It is a long dreary correspondence, but it is worthy of note that, having made his protest, the Bishop forthwith visited the parish for confirmation, which he himself had not done for a number of years, and preached to a crowded church, without once referring to its past or present difficulties. Dr. Riley resigned in November 1875. It was a very short rectorate, and not marked by any special events. Things went on quietly, and Dr. Riley's few years as rector served as a sort of breathing spell after the long months of unpleasant litigation with the Bishop. Financial matters took a turn for the better under the interested management of the vestry, and the teaching and practice of the Catholic faith went on steadily. It was well that the parish had these few years of rest, for there was a still more bitter period lying ahead, but loyal priests and a faithful congregation were here to defend the faith once for all delivered to the Saints.
1876 to 1891.
In the minutes of the vestry meeting convened on October 5th, 1875 the following resolution appears:?
RESOLVED, that a Committee of three be appointed to wait upon the Rev. Fr. Oliver Prescott, S. S. J. E., and ascertain his views respecting the taking charge of St. Clement's Church and Parish by the Evangelist Fathers.
This resolution marks a momentous page in the history of St. Clement's for it initiated negotiations which resulted in the Society of St. John the Evangelist, a Religious Order for Men, founded in Oxford, taking up this work in Philadelphia, where they remained for fifteen years in charge of St. Clement's Church. This period has usually been looked upon as the "golden age" of the Parish, and many people still date events from the "days of the Fathers." It was hard to understand just why Bishop Stevens ever consented to such an arrangement. But it has been said that the Bishop raised no objection because he thought the $90,000 debt on St. Clement's would soon bring the ministry of the Fathers in Philadelphia and the life of the parish to an end. But with the splendid management of Fr. Prescott as rector, and the brilliant preaching of Fr. Maturin and Fr. Convers, and the notable missionary work of the saintly Fr. Field, the parish grew by leaps and bounds. Fr. Benson, the founder of the Order, was a frequent visitor. Fr. Longridge, to whom the whole Catholic Church is indebted for his enormous and unique contribution to Mystical Theology, was in residence and working in the parish for a number of years. Many other famous priests from England visited St. Clement's from time to time, and the late King Edward, when Prince of Wales and staying in Philadelphia, escaped his equerries and visited St. Clement's that he might see the work whose fame had reached his royal ears in England. The Duke of Norfolk and Lord Halifax, both outstanding Anglo-Catholic laymen amongst the peers were guests in the Clergy House. Crowds thronged the services of the church. Police guards were needed to handle the people. Retreats and Quiet Days were frequently given. And the influence of the parish began to spread throughout the country, until the name "St. Clement's" became a term with which the Low Churchman expressed his horror and the High Churchman his ideal.
Father Prescott, Father Shepherd, Father Maturin, and Father Field were among the first to arrive in February, 1876, and Dr. Stewart resigned as priest-in-charge as soon as they came into residence. Brother Maynard, a young lay brother, was with the Fathers for many years, and he left as his memorial a wonderful decoration of sun flowers on the ceiling of the church. When confessionals were installed in the renovated chapel, Brother Maynard was responsible for their construction. Each was built with a gabled roof, and they were always referred to, by the intimates of the parish, as "Maynardville."
The first indication of friction with Bishop Stevens in the "days of the Fathers" is a letter from the Bishop which is spread on the minutes of the vestry. It is dated October 18th, 1876 and addressed to Fr. Maturin:
Alter long and prayerful consideration of the subject, I deem it a duty, which I owe to myself and to my Diocese, to revoke the verbal and temporary permission to officiate in this Diocese, which I gave you through the Rev. Mr. Prescott a few months ago, and to request you to discontinue all clerical ministrations within the Diocese of Pennsylvania, as I do not consent to your officiating in this ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
It is said by some of the older members of the parish that this sudden inhibition was the result of a sermon widely reported in the newspapers that Fr. Maturin had preached on The Real Presence. There is no documentary evidence beyond the inhibition itself. By another letter, dated the next day, Bishop Stevens returned "the accompanying letter from the Lord Bishop of Oxford," which apparently was some certificate analagous to our Letters Dimissory, and he "declines to receive" Fr. Maturin into this Diocese. In the meantime Fr. Maturin seems to have presented his credentials to Bishop Horatio Potter of the Diocese of New York, who accepted them. On May 19th, 1877, Bishop Stevens wrote thus to Fr. Prescott:
In reply to your note just received, I beg to say that as Mr. Maturin is now, as you tell me, a clergyman canonically connected with the Diocese of New York, in good standing, there exists at present no reason why he should not officiate lor you as you desire, his whole status having in several respects been changed since my inhibition.
It has been said that the Bishop removed this inhibition because of protests from Bishops of the Church of England. Some even assert that the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote demanding an explanation o± his refusal to accept Fr. Maturin's transfer, but there is nothing in any of the records of the parish beyond the mere mention of the fact that the inhibition was removed. Old members of the parish have told me that Fr. Maturin's first sermon after his reinstatement began with the words, "As I said to you in my last sermon," following the precedent set by Dr. Pusey.
But to return to 1876. On the same date as the inhibition of Fr. Maturin, the Diocesan, Bishop Stevens, wrote to Fr. Prescott that inasmuch as he had learned the day before
that you were in the habit of having daily celebrations of the Lord's Supper in one of the rooms of the Clergy House (these Masses were said in St, John's Chapel in the Parish House), and that in these Celebrations you did not use in its entirety the service prescribed in our Book of Common Prayer, but omitted certain portions and added others; I feel myself compelled to request that you immediately discontinue such Celebrations as contrary both to the order and spirit of the Protestant Episcopal Church in these United States.
Fr. Prescott immediately turned these letters over to the vestry, and the Bishop soon learned, if he did not already know it, that he was not dealing with such a vestry as the one in Dr. Batterson's time. The vestry acted at once and sent a protest to the Diocesan against his inhibition of Fr. Maturin, and on November 7th, a letter of solemn protest against his censure of Fr. Prescott, which ended with these words:?
we should deeply regret to be involved in an unseemly conflict with the official authority of this Diocese. But it will be our duty, as it will be our endeavor, under all circumstances, to maintain the ecclesiastical and legal rights of this Parish.
These letters mark the beginning of another long and dreary struggle between the parish and the Diocesan authorities. While the following correspondence does not seem to have been preserved, some of it is published in the Report of the Committee of Inquiry to the Diocesan Convention of 1879.
On January 27th, 1877 the Bishop ''found himself constrained to request" the discontinuance of ten enumerated "items" which included the omission of the "longer Exhortation" and the "employment of Acolytes."
St. Vincent's Guild of Acolytes was founded at St. Clement's Church as a local guild, with Fr. Longridge as the chaplain. Long after the rule was formed and the manual printed, a copy was sent to the rector of the Church of the Advent in Boston who was planning to establish a similar guild for his own servers. The Advent guild was founded, St. Clement's rule was adopted, and St. Vincent was taken for its patron. Because the Advent guild of St. Vincent was more aggressive in furthering the work of servers, it has been generally supposed that St. Vincent's Guild originated in Boston, but the circumstances here seem to indicate that it had its inception at St. Clement's, Philadelphia.
Fr. Prescott had the vain hope that if Bishop Stevens could see the great work with souls that the Fathers were doing in the parish, he would change his attitude, so he replied to the Diocesan by asking him to make an official canonical visitation of inspection to St. Clement's. The brief reply of the Bishop was to the effect that he would be glad to make such a visitation as soon as he had been assured by the rector that all of the requests in his letter of January 27th had been complied with. In answer to this Fr. Prescott told the Bishop that because the congregation of St. Clement's was of one mind in these matters, his individual compliance with the Bishop's requests would in no way settle the seven year old difficulty between the Bishop and the parish. He felt, therefore, that inasmuch as the Bishop had not visited the parish for confirmation for almost two years, the most satisfactory solution of the matter would be to take no action for the next thirteen months when the "Council of Conciliation" under Canon I5, Title 1, Paragraph xi would be called in to decide the issues involved. This canon in the 1877 Digest is the same as that numbered 18, paragraph ii in the Digest of 1931. It provided that if a Bishop should decline for more than three years to visit a parish for reasons which seemed to him sufficient, it should be the duty of the parish officials to apply to the Presiding Bishop to appoint the Bishops of the five nearest dioceses to act as a Council of Conciliation. This Council would make an examination of all the differences between the parties involved, and each party would be bound to abide by the decision of the Council. At this time the Council for the Diocese of Pennsylvania would have consisted of Bishops Whittingham, Odenheimer, Lee, Scarborough, and Howe. Bishop Stevens must certainly have realized how the decision of this group would go against him. Thus, five days later, although he was as usual "pained" by Fr. Prescott's letter, the Bishop set a date for his canonical visitation of the parish which was held on the 17th of February. The result of this visit showed how hopeless it was to suppose that anything could alter the prejudices of the Diocesan, for he wrote ten days after his visitation repeating his request that all of the "practices" enumerated in his former letter must be discontinued. Acknowledging this last communication, the Rector, Fr. Prescott, simply reiterated his decision to await the action of the canonical "Council of Conciliation." Here the vestry, representing the congregation, again took a hand, and at a meeting held March 7th, 1877, passed a long resolution which contained the following sentence:
. . . we declare and announce as our solemn conviction that the rector should not accede to the demand made upon him in such letters.
At this same meeting of the vestry a letter was sent to the Rev. Arthur Tooth, the great Church of England vicar, who had just been released from the Horsemonger Lane Gaol, who had been incarcerated there for the very same charges that the Diocesan in Pennsylvania was bringing against the priests of St. Clement's. The vestry felicitated Fr. Tooth and said that they gave thanks to God that he had been enabled so boldly to testify, and suffer indignity and imprisonment, for "our Holy Faith."
The following week, the Bishop turned over this resolution, together with copies of his correspondence with Fr. Prescott, to the Standing Committee, and on their advice wrote another letter of admonition forbiding his former list of practices.
After some weeks of thought in the matter Fr. Prescott wrote that out of consideration for the bishop in his "embarassment arising from the difficulties" of his position, he would put the following in abeyance:?the omission of the "Longer Exhortation," any kneeling by the celebrant from the beginning of the Prayer of Consecration until after the Blessing, any dropping of the voice during that prayer, the elevations, the use of prayers and sentences not taken from Holy Scripture or the Book of Common Prayer, and all processions and carrying of a Cross except on the Great Festivals. But the Bishop's reply showed how useless it was to attempt a compromise, for he wrote to St. Clement's Clergy House on May 19th, 1877:
... In reference to your last letter ... I regret to learn by it your determination to adhere to certain things which I had officially admonished you to omit. Having announced to me your intention, and being unable to relax my requisitions, I can see no necessity for further correspondence on this subject until you are willing to comply with the admonition and judgment of your bishop, against whom you now defiantly and distinctly array yourself. Most deeply do I regret this decision on your part, so thoroughly disloyal and unchurchly, and continuing, as it does, a great grievance in this Diocese. . . .
At this point another factor enters into the affair. It is well known that the clergy in the Diocese at this time were predominantly Protestant and apparently certain individuals began to press the Bishop to "do something" about St. Clement's. The prime mover in this agitation seems to have been Dr. Daniel R. Goodwin, Dean of the Philadelphia Divinity School and President of the Standing Committee of the Diocese. It may be that in the earlier proceedings against the parish Bishop Stevens had been acting under pressure from Dr. Goodwin and others, although there is no indication of this, and certainly no evidence that the Bishop needed any encouragement in his zeal to make the Episcopal Church safe for Protestantism.
It was commonly reported at the time that during these investigations of the teaching and practice at St. Clement's, a certain person whose name is known received Holy Communion at the altar and carried the Sacred Host away in his pocket to use as evidence in one of the forthcoming trials. Fr. Prescott immediately announced a Mass of Reparation for this great indignity and irreverence, and there are some now in the Parish who assisted at that Mass.
THE Diocesan Convention, convening on May 9th, 1878 took up the subject of St. Clement's Church, Dr. Goodwin opening the discussion. After a number of speeches, which created more heat than light, a resolution was passed which provided for the appointment of a committee of priests and laymen which should "ascertain the facts" about the "usages and modes of worship" at St. Clement's, and recommend some action to the next Convention. From the speeches it is evident that the aim of this movement was to exclude the parish from representation in the Convention. The Bishop, as chairman, appointed the committee and the vestry was officially advised as to its personnel. Immediately a new era of "tractarianism" spread throughout the city, as pamphlets began to appear on every side in favor or in disapproval of "ritualism." There is a thick bound volume of them in the archives of the parish. Father Prescott himself wrote at least one of them. The newspapers, of course, were full of the matter. Dr. Newton, the then rector of the Church of the Epiphany at 15th and Chestnut Streets, said in the Convention, that he could not understand why the city authorities compelled Concross and Dixie, the famous minstrels, to close their show on Sunday, while St. Clement's Church was allowed to remain open.
It is difficult for us to realize what strong antagonism was aroused against the parish throughout the city and even outside the Church. Individual members of the congregation found themselves ostracized socially and snubbed by their friends. One woman, of unquestioned social position in the city, found that many of her friends avoided even speaking to her because she was a member of St. Clement's Church. It was the days of the martyrs again, and the persecution made good Catholics. Again financial troubles were added to the diocesan persecutions, and the whole situation was further complicated.
About this time all of the ornaments in the church were marked as property of one or another of the parish guilds or sodalities to prevent their being seized to satisfy debts owed by the parish. Some of these ornaments so marked are still in use. To conserve coal and save the fuel bill the daily Masses and Offices were said in the choir room. On Sunday nights after the evening service the altar cloths were removed from the church to the choir room, and a large bureau used to hold choir vestments was converted into an altar.
The committee of investigation reported to the Convention held May 6th to 9th, 1879, bringing in a great mass of "proof" from the expert investigators. The report is published in a fifty-four page pamphlet. It would be tedious to transcribe quotations from the official statement of what these men saw at St. Clement's. The reverend gentleman who observed that at the end of the Mass "the cups were then given to the boy, as was also a small cushion, as it appeared, covered with red cloth, and carried by them to the credence table" is a good example of the fitness of the investigators for their work of reporting.
The report recommended: First, that the Convention put itself on record as condemning the "practices and usages . . . ascertained to be followed in St. Clement's Church"; Second, that a diocesan canon be drawn up by which a parish which maintained or permitted "usages or practices not in conformity with the doctrines, discipline and worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church may be deprived of its representation in the Convention"; and, Third, that their report "be referred to the Bishop and the Standing Committee to take such action thereon, under existing legislation, as they think requisite and proper." It was quite evident from the first recommendation that the parish was already condemned and the case prejudged; and this fact was patent throughout all the subsequent proceedings.
In vain did a group of delegates protest that all of this action was illegal and uncanonical and that it penalized a parish for practices that the rector and not the vestry were responsible for. A protest was read which had been signed by a number of delegates, most of whom were not at all in sympathy with St. Clement's nor its customs, but felt the injustice of the whole affair; but a great wave of Protestant sentiment swept the Convention, and by a vote the protest was excluded from the minutes of the Convention. Not only were the recommendations of this Committee all approved, but a new canon was passed forbidding any "ritual" not sanctioned by the Bishop, also the hearing of confessions without a like sanction, unless the practices in question could be proved to have been the usage of the parish for the preceding twenty years. This canon apparently was never enforced and was removed some years later by an overwhelmingly large vote of the Convention.
It was obvious that Fr. Prescott was to be tried by an ecclesiastical court. According to Bishop Grafton in his volume A Journey Godward, this was not Father Prescott's first experience in a diocesan court. While he was an assistant priest at the Church of the Advent in Boston, Bishop Eastburn of Massachusetts had brought him to trial for heresy on two counts, namely, offering himself to hear auricular confessions, and having in a sermon spoken of the Blessed Virgin Mary as "the sinless mother of a sinless child." The court was not entirely agreed that this latter statement involved the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so the count was not pressed. There was, however, no question in the matter of the sacrament of Penance and Father Prescott was suspended from the ministry until such time as he agreed not to teach "private confession." Whereupon Bishop Whittingham of Maryland immediately invited Father Prescott into the Diocese of Maryland, officially releasing him from any obligation to obey the decision of the Massachusetts Court on the ground that "what a Bishop could do, a Bishop could undo."
On June 2nd, 1879, Bishop Stevens addressed a letter to the Standing Committee asking that the rector of St. Clement's Church be proceeded against under Canon 22, Title I, of the Digest of the Canons of the General Convention. This canon was the famous "ritual canon" passed in 1874. Dr. Goodwin, before referred to, was a delegate to this and the previous General Conventions where the matter was under consideration, and had exerted great influence in the passing of this legislation. It prohibited elevations in the Prayer of Consecration and any acts of adoration to the Blessed Sacrament as well as "any other like acts not authorized by the Book of Common Prayer." In case of violation of this canon the Bishop was to summon the Standing Committee and investigate the matter. If the charges were substantiated, the Bishop was to admonish the priest. If the priest disregarded this admonition, the Standing Committee was to bring him to trial for breach of his ordination vows.
The hearings by Bishop Stevens and the Standing Committee began on January 20th, 1880. A transcript of the testimony is in the parish records, and to us, in this year of the Oxford Centenary Celebrations, with the Presiding Bishop of the Church and the Bishop of Pennsylvania taking part, it is a most amazing document. Six witnesses were examined, and four of them were priests. Father Prescott was represented by counsel but, standing on his rights as defendant, refused to testify. He must have attended all of the hearings for it is recorded that he questioned one of the witnesses. One would like to reproduce the whole record, but two short excerpts will suffice to show the sort of thing which went on seriously in a diocesan court of inquiry only fifty years ago.
Q.: (By Mr. McMurtrie) What was the position of the officiating minister during the Consecration?was his head natural in position, or was it down?
A.: I could not say positively so as to be certain.
Q.: Were there artificial lights in the building?
A.: When I went in the Church there were seven lamps burning over the chancel: there were two lights. I think, on the Communion Table, and candelabras and others upon the super-Altar . . . you could see those lights 3 or 4 or 5 in a series.
Q.: Were they needed to give light in the Chancel?
(The east windows in the apse were already covered by a dossal curtain behind the high altar. At some point in the controversy the side windows in the chancel were painted in order to make the use of candles an actual necessity.)
A.: No sir; it was daylight, a very bright light clear day.
Q.: (By another member of the Committee) There were more than was necessary for giving light?
A.: Well that is a matter of opinion: I do not speak of it as a matter of fact.
Q.: (Mr. McMurtrie) Could you see whether the place was light without them?
A.: I think the service could have been perfectly and thoroughly performed without those lights.
Q.: (To another witness?a Priest) You said that there was a good deal of changing of position: did that take place during the Prayer of Consecration?
A.: It began during the Prayer of Consecration; it was marked; the kneeling-stools were rejected; they put them aside, and got down on the floor; when the Elements were elevated, afterwards, there was if possible an intensification of the attitudes of reverence, but the marked genuflection was when the Prayer of Consecration began;?that was vehement.
As was perfectly evident from the prejudiced proceedings Father Prescott was found guilty on seven counts, which included bowing to the altar, the use of candles, the wearing of vestments, the elevation of the Blessed Sacrament, celebrating the Holy Communion without giving Holy Communion to communicants, and the omission of the "longer exhortation." It was useless for Father Prescott's attorneys to point out, as they did, that most of these things, if practices at all, were not covered by Canon 22 under which the hearing had been held. Except that it gave an opportunity for certain individuals to evidence their indignation at things they had seen and heard at St. Clement's, the investigation served no purpose at all.
By a letter dated April 14th, 1880, Bishop Stevens solemnly admonished Father Prescott in accordance with the provisions of Canon 22, to discontinue "such practices and ceremonies at all the services, and in all the places connected with, or under the control of the Rector, or Rector and Vestry of St. Clement's Church." Father Prescott replied in a carefully worded letter dated April 20th respectfully protesting against the decision, and stating that he could not immediately make a decision in the premises inasmuch as grave constitutional rights of the parish were at stake. This brought a characteristic reply from the Bishop:
I deeply regret that you should so far forget yourself as to bring a railing accusation against those set in authority over you, as you have so offensively done in your letter. It is not my purpose, however, either to indicate my course of action or enter into any controversy with you. I have simply discharged a bounden duty in admonishing you. as required by the canon, to discontinue certain practices and ceremonies connected with the Celebration of the Holy Communion in St. Clement's Parish. This admonition you decline to obey. I shall lay your reply before the Standing Committee who will determine what future action shall be taken in the premises.
This was a threat of trial for deposition and considering the nature of the former hearings there could be no doubt as to the outcome of such proceedings. So at a vestry meeting held on May 5th, Father Prescott and his assistant priests, Father Maturin and Father Convers resigned.
The vestry did not act upon the resignations, but at an adjourned meeting held on May 7th, Father Prescott and the other Fathers were asked to withdraw their resignations, and, abiding by the admonition of the Bishop, to put the questioned ceremonial in abeyance. Thus on the Sunday in the Octave of the Ascension in 1880 began a strange period in the history and practice of the parish. Masses were said and sung without lights, the celebrant being vested in surplice and black stole. All acts of reverence to the Altar and the Blessed Sacrament were omitted and the "longer exhortation" invariably used. On May 28th the victorious Bishop once more visited the parish for confirmation which he had not done for almost three years. A large class was presented to him on the occasion, and after he had confirmed them he began his address in this way: "Before I tell you what confirmation is, I had better tell you what it is not; it is not a sacrament!"
Some time previous to this a Communicants' Guild had been formed in order to supply properly prepared communicants for all of the Masses. The Guild flourished during this period. Working upon an assignment system, three people made their Communions with the priest at every Mass including the ones celebrated at later hours. These communicants were of course fasting, and it is said that it was difficult to draw up the assignments because so many of the congregation wanted to witness to the Faith in this way.
At the Diocesan Convention held in May of 1880, Bishop Stevens gave up his annual address to the matter of "Auricular Confession" along the lines of his letter to St. Clement's Vestry, under the date of February 6th, 1871. This address made a .great stir throughout the Church and rejoinders came from as far as England.
The sort of service begun in May 1880 continued until the resignation of Father Prescott in November of 1881, when Father Maturin succeeded him as rector. Father Maturin had not been "admonished," and seems to have soon restored all of the old ceremonial, and for good measure introduced the use of incense. After Father Maturin's accession to the rectorate there are no controversies with the Bishop reported in the parish records, but attendants at the services in those days tell how, now and again, due to protests from the Bishop, Father Maturin would omit certain items for a Sunday or two, such as incense or Mass vestments. Once, when there had been no incense at High Mass for some time, the congregation was suddenly aware of its sweet odor in the Church, and found later that the Ceremonarius had been standing in the sacristy door swinging the thurible.
It was during Father Maturin's rectorship that St. Clement's achieved its greatest glory and reputation. Father Maturin was one of the mighty preachers of the Church. Crowds came to hear him and it is said that police were required every Sunday to handle the crowds and keep them in order. What the newspapers of the day called "a mass of seething humanity" crowded. the corridors and aisles of the church. People tell how week after week they have seen the window-sills, the choir, and the pulpit steps jammed with the overflowing congregations. Father Field had organized his Guild of the Iron Cross and was. drawing thousands of working men from all over the United States into its membership. Dr. Mortimer, who later became the rector of St. Mark's Church on Locust Street, was then a Postulant in the Society of St. John the Evangelist, and St. Clement's music and choir was in his charge. St. Clement's, seems to have been one of the first of our parishes in this country to use the more ornate compositions of Gounod, Mozart, Haydn, and others of the same school, for in many of the announcements of these musical compositions it says, "first time in this country." The musical side of St. Clement's, services, together with the frequent use of wind and brass accompaniments, was an added attraction and increased the size of the congregations.
Bishop Stevens died in 1887 and after that date all official opposition to St. Clement's ceased. In St. Clement's Magazine for July, 1887, Father Maturin writes:
The death of the Bishop which has occurred since the last issue of the-magazine, was not unexpected ... it is well known that that Bishop had" at one time difficulties with St. Clement's Church, and in the published' notices in the daily papers, a considerable space was allotted to the recollection of these troubles. ... It is more pleasant to think of the Bishop during the later years of his life, when he visited our Church regularly to administer the Rite of Confirmation.
The Churchmen of St. Clement's reverenced him and were grateful to him as the channel through whom the grace of the Holy Ghost was conferred upon them. . . .
Considerable surprise was felt by many of our friends and great exception was taken by our would-be-enemies (no real Christians are our enemies) at the announcements which appeared in the papers that a "Requiem" was sung at St. Clement's for the repose of the soul of Bishop Stevens, and that the prayers of the people had been asked by the Priest who-officiated. . . .
The service which was held was a service of the Holy Communion, and the same service was held in several other Churches in the city. . On this particular occasion the prayers of the people were not asked for the very reason that such a request might not have been properly understood and might have given pain to those who differ with us. The Bishop himself would not have wished it, and his wishes were respected.
Dr. Benjamin Watson, rector of the old Church of the Atonement at 17th and Summer Streets lived on Cherry Street, just opposite St. Clement's Church. A few days after Bishop Stevens' death he met Father Field on the street and said to him, "What is this I hear of your having a requiem at St. Clement's for the Bishop; you know he would never have approved of it." To which Father Field, with his characteristic chuckle, replied, "Pray calm yourself, Dr. Watson; I am sure the Bishop doesn't mind it now."
After Father Maturin's election to the leadership of the parish, St. Clement's has no history that is of particular general interest. Father Maturin resigned in October 1889 and was succeeded by Father Convers, but Father Convers, who had been an assistant to both Father Prescott and Father Maturin, was ill in England during the greater part of his rectorship, and Father Field was priest-in-charge of the parish until the Society withdrew from St. Clement's in March of 1891.
"The Fathers" were followed by the Reverend John Metcalf Davenport. He was a very handsome Englishman and was recommended to the Vestry by Father Hall. He found it difficult to adjust himself to traditions which the Cowley Fathers had pretty well established, and he was succeeded by the Reverend Alfred Bowyer Sharpe in November 1893. The Parish was in a very bad condition, financially and numerically, and it was here that the vestry seriously considered selling the present site of the church and moving to some more advantageous location.
In March 1895, Father Sharpe was followed by the Reverend George Herbert Moffett, who was undoubtedly St. Clement's greatest rector, and the one man to whom the parish owes the most.
His coming ushered in a new era of prosperity for St. Clement's. Things had run down very badly in the few years since the Cowley Fathers had gone, the congregation had dwindled, and the music was very poor. The parish was heavily in debt, and the buildings in need of repair. He began at once to work very hard and faithfully, and he never gave up until his death. He installed a new heating plant; he re-tiled the church floor; he built the present Clergy House; he began the perpetual reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in the crypt chapel; he was the first to use the word "Mass" officially in the Parish; he put in the first side altar in the church; he moved the Baptistry from the head of the south aisle to the rear of the north aisle; he reorganized the Servers' Guild, and bought many of the present vestments with his fees and from his own purse. He was an indefatigable visitor. Humble and self-sacrificing in his life. He was thoroughly devoted to his vocation. His sermons were sometimes sharp, but in the confessional he was most kind and gentle. He was a real priest, a true father of souls, a faithful shepherd of his people. Through his efforts the church was cleared of all debt, and the whole atmosphere of the place was revived and respiritualized in his brief rectorship. "In a short time he accomplished a long time," and died on November 12th, 1904, having been stricken with a heart attack while on his way to the Convent of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor to say his Mass.
In June of 1905 the Reverend Charles Samuel Hutchinson, D.D., was elected rector, and continued at St. Clement's for fifteen years, leaving to become Dean of the Cathedral in the Diocese of Milwaukee. During Father Hutchinson's time the present Parish House was built, the new organ erected, the east end of the church entirely renovated and beautified, and the Boudinot memorial Lady Chapel erected at the head of the south aisle. Father Hutchinson is now rector of St. John's Church in Newport, Rhode Island.
In October 1920, the Reverend Franklin Joiner, D.D., the present Rector, was elected, after having served as an assistant to Father Hutchinson for two years. Recently the new pulpit and its baldachino have been added to the beauties of the church, and all of the buildings have been moved forty feet to the west, to comply with the city's plans for the widening of 20th Street, which is now a part of the city parkway system.
Long as this article is, it omits many events that related to St. Clement's and affected the Catholic Movement throughout the American Church. It has been necessary to pass over and leave unnamed many holy priests who have ministered at St. Clement's and deeply affected the lives that came under their care. Interesting tales of the old days and the parish legends have been left out for lack of room. St. Clement's has had a great history; but its greatness is not all behind it. It is still a beacon light for the Catholic cause in the Church, and has yet great days before it.