Guide to the Joseph Sadoc Alemany Papers 1875 AleJ

Finding aid prepared by Mary Kenney
California Jesuit Archives
Santa Clara University
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA, 95053
(408) 554-5432
dpeterson@calprov.org


Title: Joseph Sadoc Alemany Papers
Identifier/Call Number: 1875 AleJ
Contributing Institution: California Jesuit Archives
Language of Material: Italian
Physical Description: 2.0 Linear feet
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1861-1878
Date (inclusive): 1850-1965
Language of Materials: The letters and reports contained in the collection are mostly written in Italian and with transcriptions and translations available in each folder. There are letters written in English, Latin, and Spanish. Each item is briefly described in English in the full collection guide available through the California Province Archives. Most of the letters are original as received by the Jesuit California Mission.

Scope and Contents

This collection is held in Box 1 and 2 of Series number 1875, Archdiocese of San Francisco, 1850-present. The series consists of original letters which offer a picture of the relations of Archbishop Alemany with the California Jesuits, 1853-1884. Correspondence of Father James Croke, Vicar General for Archbishop Alemany, to the Jesuit superiors is also included in the collection. An account of the property controversy between the California Jesuits and Alemany, written by Burchard Villiger, S.J. from Woodstock College, Maryland in December 1900 can be found here. Also included are materials assembled by Thomas Marshall, S.J., California Province Archivist, 1977-1978 and 1987-2000. The California Provincial Archives documentation on the Jesuit-Archdiocesan relationship is comprehensive. Included is a recollection written by Aloysius Varsi, S.J., California Mission Superior, to Cardinal Franchi, Prefect of Propagation of the Faith in Rome, of the transfer of St. Ignatius College to a new site in San Francisco at Hayes and Van Ness. Other letters concerning this controversy with Archbishop Alemany in 1878 give a complete picture of the problem and its resolution.

Historical Note

Joseph Sadoc Alemany, O.P., was a Spanish Roman Catholic priest, born in Vich, Catalonia, Spain in 1814. He entered the Dominican Order in 1830. In 1840 the Order assigned him to the missions in the United States where he labored for the Catholic populations in Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Appointed as Prior-Provincial of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph the Worker in 1848, he returned to Rome in 1850 on provincial business and while there was consecrated by Pope Pius IX as the first American bishop in California, Bishop of the Diocese of Monterey, for the new State of California. The original diocesan territory included the former Mexican province of Alta California was wide-spread and sparsely populated. The effect of the Gold Rush had brought tremendous growth in population and commerce with few supporting structures, including churches and schools. After serving as Bishop of Monterey from 1850 to 1853, Alemany was elevated to Archbishop of San Francisco governing the northern half of the State of California. The multi-ethnic influx of people during the Gold Rush and their religious and educational needs drew more Catholic orders to Northern California. Along with the Jesuit Fathers came the Christian Brothers, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and the Dominicans. The return of the ecclesiastical property of the former mission lands in California to the Catholic Church was a pressing issue and in 1853 Archbishop Alemany filed a petition with the Public Land Commission. In December 1855 Commissioner Alpheus Felch affirmed that the mission properties remained ecclesiastical under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The relationship between the California Mission of the Jesuits and Archbishop Alemany was not peaceful, particularly in the question of land titles which the archbishop insisted should be under his name. In addition, lack of funds and the paucity of priests were continuous problems. Alemany made a valiant fight for the Pious Fund, appropriated by Mexican President Santa Anna in 1842. Archbishop Alemany maintained fiscal and administrative control over all clergy. His correspondence reflects a financial picture of the relationship between the Jesuits of the California Mission and includes detailed financial reports and a record of resistance to his demand for titles to all Jesuit properties. Another issue of contention was the establishment of Sodalities and parish status of St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco.

Access Terms

Accolti, Michael, S.J., 1807-1878
Alemany, Joseph Sadoc, 1814-1888
Beckx, Pieter, S.J., 1795-1887
Bixio, Joseph, S.J., 1819-1889
Catholic Church.Archdiose of San Francisco (Calif.)--History
Catholic Church.Diocese of Monterey (Calif.)--History
Congiato, Nicolas, S.J., 1816-1897
Croke, James, 1827-1889
Jesuits--California--History--19th century
Masnata, Aloysius, S.J., 1823-1889
Nobili, John, S.J., 1812-1856
Ponte, Giovanni Battista, S.J., 1813-1889
Rubio, Jose Maria Gonzales, O.F.M.
Sopranis, Felix, S.J., 1861, 1863
Varsi, Aloysius, S.J., 1830-1900
Villiger, Burchard, S.J., 1838-1902
Santa Clara College (Calif.)
St. Ignatius College (San Francisco, Calif.)