Some Notable Jewish Catholics of the
Past and Present
following list is from Rosalie Marie Levy's (a Jewish Catholic) book, The Heavenly Road.
In it she quotes the words of Pope Pius
XI, who in 1925 on being told that he man he was greeting (a Mr. Boas)
was a Jewish convert, said: "Then it is for you a sacred duty of
gratitude to make all possible efforts to share with other Jews the
grace which you have received." It is in that spirit that this
list is being presented:
Alfonso, de Zamora, a Spanish rabbi, was
baptized in 1506. He gave valuable assistance to Cardinal Ximenes in
compiling his Polyglot Bible, and died in 1531. (Catholic Encyclopedia,
Vol. I, p. 309.)
Alionsus, Petrus, 1062 (born Moses Sephardi), was converted on St.
Peter’s day, 1106, and died in 1110. King Alfonsus I of Aragon, whose
physician-in-ordinary he became, stood sponsor at his Baptism. As his
conversion was attributed by his former coreligionists to ulterior
motives. he published a famous reply in twelve dialogues, frequently
Alimena, Marchioness Fede, of Rome, Italy, and her mother, Mrs. Levy.
Baroness Franchetti, and son. Battista, Giovanni Giuda Giona
(originally Jehuda Jona Ben-Isaac), was born in 1558, As he was a
rabbi, his conversion created a sensation. In later years he
taught Hebrew and Aramaic at the Academy of Pisa and then at the
Propaganda in Rome. His principal literary work was the
translation of the Gospels from Latin into Hebrew, which were published
with a preface by Pope Clement IX.
Benziger, Mrs. Gertrude Lytton, wife of August Benziger, the painter.
Bertha, Princess, wife of Prince Alexander. Duke de Wagram. and her
sister, the Duchess of Gramont. Daughters of Baron Charles de
Rothschild. banker of Frankfort, Germany.
Brother Anthony (Wallerstein), Capuchin Monastery. Brooklyn, N. Y.
Cassel, Sir Ernest, the great Jewish financier of I.ondon, who died in
September, 1921. In his will he directed that his funeral be held at
the Jesuit Church in Farm Street. He was a close friend of King Edward
de Forest, Lord, London, England (born Maurice Arnold Bishoffsheim),
adopted son and heir of the great Baron Hirsch.
dc Graffenreil, Baron Leo, Paris. Born in New York.
de Ponte, Lorenzo (originally Emmanuel Conegliano), was born in 1749
and died in 1838. When he was fourteen years of age his father
and all the members of his family were baptized in the Cathedral of
Ceneda, Italy. The Bishop, Lorenzo de Ponte, seeing the talents of the
boy, gave him his own name and sent him to the diocesan seminary to he
educated for a literary career. After teaching in the University of
Treviso, and it writing for Mozart the librettos of the operas "I.e
Nozze di Figaro," "Don Giovanni" and "Cosi Fan Tutti," he went to
London and later emigrated to New York, where he taught Italian and was
connected with Columbia University. He was the first teacher in America
to lecture on Dante’s "Divina Commedia."
de Spina, Alfonso. After his conversion he entered the Franciscan
Order. For many years he was superior of the house oi studies of the
Friars Minor at Salamanca, in Spain, and in 1491 was created Bishop of
Thermopylae in Greece. He was a man of great learning and a renowned
Preacher. His chief title to fame was the "Fortalitium Fidei."
(Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, p. 216.)
Drach, David Paul, was born in 1791 and died in 1868. He was
baptized by Archbishop Quelen, in Paris, on Holy Saturday, 1823, with
his two daughters and son. As he enjoyed the highest esteem as an
author and a learned rabbi, his conversion produced a profound
impression on all active and earnest minds of the rising generation and
incited them to the study of the more serious problems of life. His
endeavors to lead his coreligionists to the living fountain of truth,
to the acknowledgement of Jesus as the real and true Messiah,
crystallized in numerous writings and were blessed by God. "Many
converts trace their conversion to the influence of Drach's example"
(Scheid,) (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 152.)
Drach, Paul Augustin 1817-1895, son of the preceding, was baptized in
1823. He studied for the priesthood at the Propaganda College in Rome,
and was ordained there in 1846. For many years he was a Canon of Notre
Dame Cathedral, Paris. As a Biblical exegete he held an important
place, and to him we are indebted for a large commentary in French.
(Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 6, p. 152.)
Fellner, Miss Julia Marie, was haptizcd March 3, 1895, at St. Francis
Xavier’s Church, New York City. She later became a religious. Her
sisters also embraced the Catholic Faith.
Fox, Rev. Wm. A., S.S.S. (son of Prof. Wm. B. Fox), and his
sister, who became a religious in Montreal, Can.
Fox, Prof. Wm. B., B.Sc., Professor of Physics, College of the City of
Goldstein, David, ex-Socialist, author and lecturer, Boston, Mass.
Goschler, Rev. Isidore, was born in 1804 at Strasbourg. where became a
barrister. He attended the lectures on philosophy of M. Bautain. He
embraced the Catholic Faith in 1827 with his fellow-student, Jules
Lewel, and became Professor of Philosophy at Besancon. He was ordained
priest at Strasbourg in 1830 and later became Director of the
College Stanislas in Paris, in which city he died in June, 1866.
Harte, Bret, Jr., son of Bret Harte, the novelist. Grandson of
Bret Harte, of the New York Stock Exchange.
Held, Anna, the French actress, was received into the Church prior to
Hepner, Rev. Martin G., C.SS.R., St. Mary's College, North East, Pa.
Hilarius, Rev. Fr., who was at rabbi in Ingolstadt, Germany, before he
embraced Catholicism, became a Benedictine Monk and died at the
Benedictine Monastery in Warsaw on May 3, 1928.
Hill, Rev, Ernest Samuel. He was ordained in 1905 and was stationed at
Shanklin, Isle of Wight.
Hirsch and Lehmann, the painters.
Hoffsugoth, Rev. Jacob, C.P. He was pastor of St. Michael's Church,
Isaacs, Godfrey, of London, brother of the Earl of Reading, Viceroy of
Joseph, Count of Scythopolis, an important personage in the reign of
Constantine. In thanksgiving for his conversion he built the first
church at Tiberias, and one at Capharnaum, where Jesus had chosen His
Keiley, Mrs., wife of Judge A. M, Keiley, Judge of the International
Court at Cairo.
Klacko, Julian, was born in 1825 and died in 1906. After taking the
doctor`s degree in 1847 at the University of Konigsberg he went to
Heidelberg to continue his studies under Gervinus, who appointed him a
collaborator on the "Deutsche Zeitung," a periodical for Russian and
Polish affairs. "He was by far the most powerful intellect and the most
brilliant writer of Poland during the latter half of the nineteenth
century." (Tarnowski.) (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, p. 665.)
Klyber, Andrew B., Kirkwood, Mo. (1920.)
Kohn, The Most Rev. Dr., Prince Archbishop of Olmutz, Bohemia.
Kronold, Madame Selma, the New York singer.
Lemann, Joseph, and brother, Augustin, of France. They both became
Levy. Father, Dominican priest, who gave his life for the Faith in
Levy, Mr. Harry, Superintendent of a department in the City Hospital,
Boston, Mass. (1908.)
Lewel, Rt. Rev. Jules, who was born in Nancy in 1801. He studied
philosophy at Strasbourg under M. Bautain and was baptized a Catholic
in 1827. He was ordained priest in 1829 and later was appointed
Apostolic Protonotary and Rector of St. Louis in Rome, in which city he
died in October, 1870.
Lewel, Rev. Nestor, brother of ]ules Lewel.
Libermann, Father Francis Mary Paul (born Jacob), Alsace, France.
Marcus, Benjamin. Rabbinical scholar; author of "Kur Hayem,” etc.
Mendelssohn, Dorothea, was born in 1765 and died in 1839. She was
the daughter and eldest child of Moses Mendelssohn, the
philosopher, and aunt of the renowned composer, Felix Mendelssohn
-Bartholdy. By her first marriage, to a Jew named Simon Veit, she had
two sons, the younger of whom, Philip, followed his mother into the
Catholic Church. Dorothea married, secondly, the brilliant
Friedrich Schlegel in 1808, becoming at the time a Protestant.
Two years later they both became Catholics. Dorothea's later years were
spent with her husband and sons at Rome and finally at
Frankfort-on-the-Main. This gifted woman was a novelist and litterateur
in general, musical, and famed for her repartee.
Mendelssohn, Henrietta, sister of Dorothea, conducted a boarding school
in Paris. At first she was bitterly opposed to Catholicism, but
through the edifying example of one of her pupils, Fanny Sebastiani
(subsequently the Duchess de Choiseul-Praslin) she entered the Church
Mergentheim, Rev, Leo, J.U.D. (Bonn University.) Priest of the
Archdiocese of Cologne, Germany. Son of a Jewish banker in Chicago, Ill.
Meyer, Arthur, director of Le Gaulois, a Paris daily. He was the son of
Rabbi Meyer oF Le Havre. He became a Catholic a few years before the
war and died Feb. 2, 1924, at the age of eighty years.
Mickle, Mrs. Elizabeth Etting, wife of Robert Mickle of Philadelphia,
Pa.; Member of the famous Etting family of merchants and bankers of
Philadelphia and Baltimore.
Monaco, The Princess of, born Alice Heine, New Orleans, La., daughter
of the wealthy Jewish banker and grandniece of the poet Heine.
Mother Lucie (formerly Madame Marx Mayer) and Mother Marie (formerly
Madame Pierre Franck) were baptized on May 1, 1845. They served for
more than sixty years as religious in the Congregation of Notre Dame de
Nathan, the Misses, daughters of Grand Master Nathan of the Italian
Netter, Blanche, daughter of Grand Rabbi Netter of Metz. She later
be-came a Carmelite nun.
Netto, His Emminence Sebastian Cardinal, O.F.M. Patriarch of Lisbon.
O’Brien, Mrs. Sophie Raffalovich, London. Novelist.
Olmer, Abbé, priest, whose entire family followed him into the
Church, two of his sisters entering the religious state.
Paul of Burgos (born Solomon Ha-Levi), a
Spanish Archhishop, lord chancellor and exegete, was born at Burgos
about 1351 and died on August 29, 1435. He was the most wealthy and
influential Jew of Burgos, a rabbi and scholar of the first rank in
Talmudic acid rabbinical literature. The irresistible logic of the
Summa of St. Thomas led him to become a Catholic. He received Baptism
on July 2, 1390. His brothers, Pedro Suarez and Alvar Garcia, together
with his daughter and four boys were baptized with him. (Catholic
Encyclopedia, Vol. 11, p. 588.)
Pescarole, Senator, one of the greatest surgeons of Italy, was received
into the Catholic Church by Cardinal Gamba in 1927. He died in 1930.
Pfefferkorn, Johannes, was born in 1469. He embraced Catholicism in
1505 at Cologne, together with his wife and children, and died in 1522.
His efforts to convert his former coreligionists were unceasing.
Polonnais, M., Editor of the Paris "Gaulois." (1902.)
Raffalovich, Andre Sebastian, London. Poet and essayist.
Ratisbonne, Father Marie Theodore, Strasbourg, Germany
Ratisbonne, Father Marie Alphonse, Strasbourg, Germany
Rosenfeld, Rev. Hilary, O.S.B. Priest of the Diocese of Leavenworth,
Kansas. (Deceased.) Son of a Bohemian rabbi. Hilary, too, became a
rabbi and served in that capacity for 2 1/2 years at Cham,
Bavaria. He was baptized a Catholic on Oct. 18, 1887, and studied
for the priesthood.
Schaffel, Rev. Paul, D.D. Priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wis.
Sister Mary Agnes, O.S.D. (Rose Goldstein of Newark, N. J.) (1920.)
Sister M. Aquin, Milwaukee, Wis. (1918.)
Sister M. Philip, Milwaukee, Wis., sister of the above. (1918.)
Sister Mary of St. Therese (Blanche Elkan, Boston. Mass,). Good
Shepherd nun, Montreal, Can.
Sister St. Ignatius (Miss Levy), Marysville, Cal.
Sister Josephiine, Rome, Italy.
Sister Josephine (Theresa Zeitler of Philadelphia, Pa.). She entered
the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis in Cincinnati in 1872 and spent
56 years in religious life. She died on June 9, 1928, at the Provincial
Sister Stanislaus, Sister of Charity (Priscilla Cohen of New Orleans,
La.). She died in 1914. All of her family, with the exception of her
father, ernbraced the Catholic Faith after her conversion.
Sister Stella (née Cecilia Hermann), of New York City. (1908.)
Souhami, Mrs., her two daughters, and son, a Benedictine monk.
Veit, Rev. James. Priest of the Archdiocese of New York.
Veit, Philip, was born in 1793 and died in 1877. He was the son of
Dorothea Mendelssohn and was baptized in 1810. He became one of the
leaders of the Rornanticist school of painting, and was the best pupil
of Overbeck and Cornelius at Rome. First, he directed the Stadel
Institute at Frankfort, making it one of the chief centers of German
Romantic art. Later he accepted a call as director at
Mainz. His art lectures have been edited by Kaufmann.
Veith, Johann Emmanuel, was born in 1787 and died in 1876. He was
famous both as a physician and preacher. Before his conversion he was
director of the school of veterinary medicine at Vienna, and author of
a valuable compendium in two volumes of veterinary surgery, and an
outline of botanical medicine. After his Baptism in 1816 he turned to
theology and was ordained in 1821. He became a Redemptorist and for
forty-two years served as a priest at Maria Stiegen and the Cathedral
at Vienna. "He never made use of the arts of secular orators to create
a sensation; least of all did he wish to be a fashionable preacher ...,
Priests, scholars, literary men, artists, and students came with
eagerness to hear him proclaim the word of God." (Catholic
Encyclopedia, Vol. 15, p. 322.)
Wurmser, Madame, of Hungary. She was baptized Nov. 7, 1842, in Paris.
with her two daughters, Elisa and Anna. Elisa changed her name to
Alphonsine and later became a religious of Notre Dame de Sion.
ADDITIONAL NAMES OF CONVERTS
Alcalda, Mayor, of Nacodoches, Texas. He was confirmed in 1850 by
Bishop Odiv. the hrst Bishop of Texas.
Allers, Professor, renowned psychologist, formerly of Vienna; now at
the Catholic University, Washington, D. C.
Baerwald, Friedrich, eminent economist; now teaching at Fordham
University, New York City.
Baggers-Szekeres, Eugene. He has risen to fame in America and Britain.
Boas, Mr J., Editor "De Maasbode", Holland. During an audience
with Pope Pius XI in 1925, the Holy Father on being told that Mr. Boas
was a convert from Judaism said: "Then it is for you a sacred duty of
gratitude to make all possible efforts to share with other Jews the
grace which you have received."
Cattaoni, Geoges, diplomat of Egypt.
Chorin, Dr. Franz, Budapest; industrial and political leader, son of
Rabbi Aaron Chorin. (1925.)
Cohen, Prof. Gustave, at the Sorbonne.
De Menasce, Rev. Jean, member of the French Embassy at the Vatican.
Doeblin, A., novelist of Germany. He entered the Church while living as
a refugee in the United States.
Friedmann, Walter Heinrich, of Germany, author of "'The Cross and the
Star: The Way of a Convert from the Torah to the Host."
Gurian, Waldemar, of Russia; now Professor at Notre Dame
University, Notre Dame, Ind., and editor of "Review of Politics."
Herz, Rev. Lukas, O.S.B., Oberbayer, Germany.
Jacob, Max, poet and surrealist painter of France. He died in a
concentration camp during the war.
Karpeles, Dr. Benno, formerly a writer on the staff of the
"Arbeiter-Zeitung," a Socialist newspaper in Vienna. After
visiting Theresa Neumann, the stigmatist of Konnnersreuth, Gerrnany,
several times, he was baptized on March 14, 1932, in the little church
at Konnersreuth, and Theresa was his godmother.