Styled the the 'apostle of Philadelphia', b. 30 May, 1808; d. 8 June, 1869
Barbelin, FELIX-JOSEPH, styled the “Apostle of Philadelphia”, b. at Luneville, Province of Lorraine, France, May 30, 1808; d. in Philadelphia, June 8, 1869. He was the oldest of six children, of whom five became religious, his youngest brother Ignace-Xavier being the founder of the Apostolic School at Amiens. He received his early training at the home of a reverend grand-uncle, and made his philosophical and theological studies in a seminary of which another grand-uncle was president. He entered the Society of Jesus, January 7, 1831, at Whitemarsh, Maryland, U.S.A., and for some years was stationed at Georgetown College, D.C., as disciplinarian and teacher of French. In 1836 he became assistant pastor of Holy Trinity Church at Georgetown, and in 1838 was transferred to Philadelphia, thereafter the scene of his apostolic labors. For more than a quarter of a century he was pastor of Old St. Joseph’s, Willing’s Alley, which became, mainly during his term of office, the center from which radiated Catholic influences throughout the city and diocese. His zeal was untiring. He founded St. Joseph’s Hospital in his adopted city, and was the first to establish sodalities for men and women and for the young who were always the objects of his fatherly solicitude. In 1852 he was appointed the first President of St. Joseph’s College. His many good works brought him into contact with most of the Catholics of the city, while his charity towards all and particularly his love of children and devotion to their interests made him an object of veneration to Catholics and Protestants alike. His memory is still held in benediction.
EDWARD P. SPILLANE