Hecker, Isaac 
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Time Period
12/18/1819  - 12/22/1888
Isaac Hecker was born to German immigrant parents in New York in 1819. Baptized a Lutheran, he spent his early adulthood exploring the many religious options his country offered. Influenced by his friend Orestes Brownson, another spiritual sojourner and also a fellow Catholic convert, Hecker moved from Lutheranism to Episcopalianism to Unitarianism to Transcendentalism and finally to Catholicism. Hecker sought and received permission from the Vatican in 1858 to found a new community of American priests, the Paulists, which was dedicated to converting Americans to Catholicism. As part of Hecker’s new mission, he established a periodical, The Catholic World , in 1865, to defend his church and to attract new members. Hecker acted as an intellectual forefather to the Catholic Americanist movement. Following his death in 1888, Pope Leo XIII's 1899 encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae condemned indirectly a number of what were perceived to be Hecker's potentially dangerous, modernist ideas.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Catholic Religious Events and People in American History
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Catholic Religious Events and People in American History
Religious Groups
Catholicism (Western Liturgical Family): Other ARDA Links

Publication of Encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae

Isaac Hecker portrait- Internet Archive- from The Life of Father Hecker by Walter Elliott

Isaac Hecker portrait- Internet Archive- from The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol 7

Isaac Hecker portrait- Internet Archive- from Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography, vol 3 by James Grant Wilson and John Fiske
Book/Journal Source(s)
Allitt, Patrick, 1997. Catholic Converts: British and American Intellectuals Turn to Rome. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
O'Brien, David J., 1992. Isaac Hecker: An American Catholic. New York: Paulist Press.
Web Page Contributor
William S. Cossen
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History

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