Theft of the "Pope's Stone"

March 6, 1854

Pope Pius IX had donated a marble block for the building of the Washington Monument. In the early morning hours of March 6, 1854, a group of Know Nothings snuck into the construction site, tied up the guard, and broke the "pope's stone" to pieces with sledge hammers. They threw the fragments into the Potomac River. This act of nativist ant-Catholicism was one factor leading to continued difficulty raising funds for the monument, resulting in the delay of its completion until 1884.


P. Hodge, "The Pope's Gift to the Washington Monument Vanished One Night in 1854"