A Diocese of Firsts

America’s Premier See

Cathedral sketch 1808The Archdiocese of Baltimore was the very first Catholic diocese in the United States.  It is located in Maryland.  The colony of Maryland was founded by Catholics and was the only one of the original 13 colonies that permitted religious freedom.   Even today the Archdiocese leads the fight for religious freedom.  We are proud to be a “diocese of firsts”!

  • The first diocese. The Archdiocese of Baltimore was created by the Holy See in 1789. Its boundaries originally included the entire country. It continues to be the premier see of the United States.
  • The first bishop. Bishop John Carroll was ordained Bishop of Baltimore in 1790 and is considered one of the fathers of Catholicism in America.  His cousin, Charles Carroll, was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • The first cathedral. The Basilica of the Assumption of Mary in Baltimore was a masterpiece of architecture when it was completed in 1821, designed by the same architect as the US Capitol building.  It is a symbol of religious freedom today.
  • The first 2 seminaries.    The first seminary in the United States is St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore, founded in 1791 and still operating today. Thousands of faithful priests have been educated there by the Sulpician priests.  The second seminary in the country is Mt. St. Mary Seminary located west of Baltimore City.  It is currently the largest seminary in the country and boasts a martyr among its priest alumni, Fr. Stanley Rother.
  • The first American-born saint.  Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first person born in the United States to be canonized a saint.  It was in Maryland that she began a new religious order, Sisters of Charity (now called Daughters of Charity).  She is buried in the magnificent Basilica of Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  Other saints who served in Baltimore are St. John Neumann and Blessed Francis Seelos.
  • The first catechism. The Baltimore Catechism, written in 1885 in the diocese, was the standard text for Catholic religion teachers in the United States for almost a hundred years.