Project Canterbury

Mahlon Norris Gilbert: Bishop Coadjutor of Minnesota 1886-1900.

By Francis Leseure Palmer
with an Introduction by Daniel Sylvester Tuttle, Presiding Bishop of the American Church.

Milwaukee: The Young Churchman, 1912.
London: Mowbray, 1912.


THOUGH ten years and more have passed since Bishop Gilbert finished his heroic course, his memory is as fresh and green as when he died. The Church in the United States has seen Bishops of greater administrative ability and greater scholarship, but none that has been more greatly loved. "Dear Bishop Gilbert" he was and is to those that knew him.

At a luncheon given January 24, 1911, in honor of the Rev. Theodore Payne Thurston, about to be consecrated Bishop of Eastern Oklahoma, the venerable Presiding Bishop, in recalling the history of earlier days, dwelt with affectionate regard on some of the Church's leaders and pioneers. He paid glowing tribute to the saintly Bishop Kemper, and to the apostolic Bishop Whipple, honored not only in Minnesota, for which he gave himself so unsparingly, but in all the Church. And when he came to speak of Bishop Gilbert, he said with visible emotion and affection:

"Mahlon Norris Gilbert-a man greatly loving, a man greatly beloved; a man giving out sympathy wonderfully; a man calling out sympathy wonderfully; a man showing loyalty with his whole heart and soul; a man arousing wholesouled and wholehearted loyalty."

On the occasion of Bishop Edsall's tenth anniversary, celebrated in connection with the annual Council of the Diocese, held at Winona, May 30, 1911, praise was given impartially to all three of Minnesota's chief pastors. Of Bishop Gilbert, Dean Mueller said, "What memories of love are recalled by that name!"

In a personal letter to a friend in St. Paul soon after Bishop Gilbert's death, the great Bishop of New York, Henry Codman Potter, wrote:

"Anyone more single, strenuous, and devoted in every best service, anyone more engaging and inspiring in all my contacts with him, I never knew. To have known him is an incomparable privilege; to have lost him is an immeasurable bereavement. In all our House of Bishops, he was to me the prince of manliness, honor, fearlessness, and Christian chivalry. Ah, rare and beautiful soul, what shall we do without you!"

The reason that up to this time no biography has been written is a simple one. After Bishop Gilbert's death, his personal papers and correspondence, which had been carefully placed in a storage warehouse, were destroyed by fire. Only a scrapbook and a volume of memorabilia survived, and these had been injured. The death of Mrs. Gilbert soon after made the work of gathering information still more difficult. The present writer has searched patiently and corresponded widely, until the material collected, while inadequate, seems sufficient to show much of Dr. Gilbert's personality and to account in some measure for his strong and beautiful influence, as bishop and as man.

The writer will be glad to receive corrections of any errors and to have any omissions supplied.

F. L. P.

Faribault, Minnesota,
November 1, 1912.

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