News
Jesuit Father G. Ronald Murphy, with the iron cross he discovered.
Georgetown University’s 17th-Century Iron Cross Featured in Smithsonian Exhibition

August 4, 2017 — What is believed to be a 17th-century iron cross, owned by Georgetown University and used by Pope Francis in his first Mass in the United States two years ago, is now part of a one-year Smithsonian exhibition on “Religion in Early America.”

Historians believe the cross came over to Maryland from England with the first settlers in 1634. Jesuit Father Ronald Murphy, a German department professor, rediscovered it at Georgetown in 1989.

Since it was rediscovered, the hammer-welded cross made from ship’s iron has hung in the university’s Dahlgren Chapel. Exhibit specialists at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History created a replica of the cross that will hang in the chapel until the exhibit is over.

“It's exciting to hold something in your hands from the time of the origins of the university as a small rectory school,” Fr. Murphy said. “It's even more exciting to see the cross's importance acknowledged by the Smithsonian.”


The Georgetown professor says the exhibition’s insurers believe the spike on the bottom of the cross may be a nail from either the Ark or the Dove, the ships that made the first expedition from England to what was then the Province of Maryland.

The four-foot high cross’ vertical inscription reads, "This cross is said to have been brought by the first settlers from England to St. Mary's.” The horizontal Latin inscription states Ad perpetuamrei memoriam, or “For the eternal memory of this event.”

“Georgetown’s iron cross is an evocative highlight of Religion in Early America,” says Peter Manseau, Lilly Endowment Curator of American Religious History. “It movingly captures the commitment of the first Catholics in the 13 colonies to make a new home for their faith from the materials they had at hand.

“The museum is grateful to university faculty, administration and campus ministry staff for the opportunity to include this fascinating story in the exhibit,” he said. Source: [Georgetown University]





Recent News

Nearly 2,000 individuals from Jesuit colleges, universities, high schools, parishes and volunteers groups, gathered in Washington, D.C. to advocate for social justice.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, author and education activist, José Luis Vilson, addressed the parish community at Sacred Heart Church in Richmond.

From November 4-6, 2017, nearly 2,000 individuals will gather for the 20th annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, D.C., including nearly 300 from Maryland Province schools, universities and parishes.

The third annual Jesuit Friends and Alumni Sunday Masses took place on Oct. 21-22, gathering more than 1,600 alumni and their loved ones for liturgies and receptions held at 24 parishes and schools.

Twenty-Two pilgrims traveled with Fr. George Witt, SJ, provincial assistant for spirituality ministries to Spain and southern France to follow in the footsteps of Jesuit Sts. Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier, and St. Bernadette.

After five years, Fr. Michael Boughton, SJ, concluded his service stewarding Jesuits through various stages of their religious formation, as provincial assistant for formation for the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces.

Fr. John McCaslin, SJ, Air Force veteran, Army chaplain and beloved pastoral minister at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, Pa., has died at 88.

view all news

Search news

Publications

JESUITS Magazine: Summer 2017

JESUITS Magazine: Spring 2017

JESUITS Magazine: Fall/Winter 2016



Bellarmine Retreat Center
Bellarmine Retreat Center is located in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains by the Appalachian Trail on the Pennsylvania/Maryland border. It is scheduled to close on Labor Day 2018.