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Father John Bapst: Catholicism's Defender and Promoter

St. John's Church, Bangor, ca. 1930

St. John's Church, Bangor, ca. 1930

Item 35485 info
John Bapst Memorial High School

The Know-Nothing or American Party was active throughout the country in the 1840s and 1850s, opposing immigrants and Catholics, who, the party believed, were loyal to the Pope, not the U.S.

In a 1941 speech, Brother Samuel, C.F.X., noted that, "In the dead of night the bigots assembled, marched to the humble schoolhouse, planted a keg of dynamite under the building and blasted it into the sky."

The next morning, Father Bapst made available the gallery of his new Church for classroom purposes, further angering the Know-Nothings.

Amory Otis, a Protestant, stopped them from burning the church that night. The mob returned to the church later and broke all the windows in the rectory and the church.

On October 14, 1854, Father Bapst was abducted from the home of his host in Ellsworth. The abductors took Father Bapst into the forest and bound him to a tree. Their initial intent to burn him at the stake was thwarted by damp weather; their matches would not light. Instead, they stripped, tarred, and feathered him and then stole his wallet and silver watch.

When rescued, Father Bapst was taken to Bangor to recover.

He became the pastor of St. Michael's Church and later led the successful construction efforts to build St. John's Church on York Street, one of the five churches he eventually helped establish in Maine.

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