Bishop hosts book signing of ‘Patrick N. Lynch, 1817-1882: Third Catholic Bishop of Charleston’

CHARLESTON—The University of South Carolina Press has published “Patrick N. Lynch, 1817-1882: Third Catholic Bishop of Charleston”, by Stephen J. White Sr., in collaboration with the late David C.R. Heisser, Ph.D.

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone will host a book signing at his residence, 114 Broad St., on March 3 at 6:30 p.m.

White said this is the first biography of the Southern bishop, and attempts to provide a detailed narrative of his life.

“He was first and foremost a distinguished Roman Catholic prelate. But in many ways he was a renaissance man,” he said.

heisser cover design_final.inddWhite is executive director of the Karpeles Manuscript Museum in Charleston and is the founder and director of the Charleston Historical Society. He is the author of “Irish Charleston”.

Heisser was an author, historian, and librarian. A native of Charleston, and product of Cathedral Grammar School and Bishop England High School, he taught at the university level for several decades and finished his career as a research librarian at The Citadel. He completed two decades of research on Bishop Lynch before he died in October 2010. He is the author of “The State Seal of South Carolina: A Short History”.

The biography of the influential Southern bishop, spans his critical Civil War experiences and beyond.

Patrick Neison Lynch, born in a small town in Ireland, became the third Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina. Bishop Lynch is remembered today mostly for his support of the Confederacy, his unofficial diplomatic mission to the Vatican on behalf of the Confederate cause, and for his ownership and management of slaves owned by the Catholic diocese. In this biography of Bishop Lynch, Heisser and White investigate those controversial issues in Bishop Lynch’s life, but they also illuminate his intellectual character and his labors as bishop of Charleston in a critical era of the state and nation’s religious history. During the nineteenth century, Catholics both assimilated into South Carolina’s predominantly Protestant society and preserved their own faith and practices.

A native of Ireland, Bishop Lynch immigrated with his family to the town of Cheraw when he was a boy. At the age of 12, he became a protégé of Bishop John England, the founding bishop of the Diocese of Charleston. After Bishop Lynch studied at the seminary England founded in Charleston, Bishop England sent Bishop Lynch to prepare for the priesthood in Rome. The young man returned an accomplished scholar and became an integral part of Charleston’s intellectual milieu. He served as parish priest, editor of a national religious newspaper, instructor in a seminary, and active member of nearly every literary, scientific, and philosophical society in Charleston.

Just three years before the outbreak of the Civil War, Bishop Lynch rose to the position of bishop of Charleston. During the war he distinguished himself in service to his city, state, and the Confederate cause, culminating in his “not-so-secret” mission to Rome on behalf of Jefferson Davis’s government. Upon Bishop Lynch’s return, which was accomplished only after a pardon from U. S. president Andrew Johnson, he dedicated himself to rebuilding his battered diocese and retiring an enormous debt that had resulted from the conflagration of 1861, which destroyed the Cathedral of St. John and St. Finbar, and wartime destruction in Charleston, Columbia, and throughout the state.

Bishop Lynch executed plans to assimilate newly freed slaves into the Catholic Church and to welcome Catholic emigrants from Europe and the Northern states. Traveling throughout the eastern United States he gave lectures to religious and secular organizations, presided over dedications of new churches, and gave sermons at consecrations of bishops and installations of cardinals, all the while begging for contributions to rebuild his diocese. Upon his death Bishop Lynch was celebrated throughout his city, state, and nation for his generosity of spirit, intellectual attainments, and dedication to his holy Church.

The book is available at