Timeline of American Catholic History

View fuller explanations of each item by clicking on the linked terms (underlined). Access summary paragraphs and more detailed graphs of each century by clicking "More." These timelines are under construction and will be continually revised and updated.


1492 Christopher Columbus lands at Hispaniola

1500 A Century of Exploration More

1537 Alvar Cabeza de Vaca publishes account of expedition to Gulf Coast

1571 Fr. Juan Segura and companions killed near Jamestown

1597 Franciscan martyrs killed on coast of Georgia

1600 A Century of Missionaries More

1634 Catholic settlers arrive in Maryland

1646 St. Isaac Jogues and companions killed by Iroquois

1673 Fr. Marquette and Joliet undertake Mississippi expedition

1676 Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha converts to Catholicism

1700 The Colonial Church More

1711 Fr. Eusebio Kino dies in Arizona

1769 Fr. Junipero Serra founds first California mission at San Diego

1776 Charles Carroll of Carrollton signs Declaration of Independence

1789 John Carroll consecrated first Catholic bishop of United States

1790 Mathew Carey publishes first American edition of Douay-Reims bible

1793 Fr. Stephen Badin first priest ordained in U.S.

1800 An Immigrant Church More

1808 Dioceses of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown created

1815 Trusteeism controversy begins

1818 St. Phillipine Duchesne and Sacred Heart Sisters arrive in New Orleans

1834 Charlestown convent burned


1852 St. John Neumann becomes bishop of Philadelphia

1858 Fr. Isaac Hecker founds Paulist Fathers

1868 Fr. Pierre de Smet brokers a peace with Sioux in Dakota Territory

1889 St. Frances Cabrini arrives in U.S.

1891 St. Katharine Drexel founds Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

1900 The Church Comes of Age More

1908 US removed from jurisdiction of Propaganda Fide (ends mission status)


1918 Knute Rockne becomes head coach of Notre Dame football team

1919 National Catholic Welfare Council formed


1926 Fr. Virgil Michel founds liturgy journal Orate Fratres

1927 Fr. Daniel Lord assists production of feature film King of Kings

1928 Al Smith wins Democratic nomination for president, loses general election


1933 Dorothy Day publishes Catholic Worker

1937 Association of Catholic Trade Unionists founded

1939 Card. Francis Spellman named archbishop of New York


1944 GI Bill passes, enabling college education for working-class Catholics

1946 Clare Booth Luce converts to Catholicism

1948 Thomas Merton publishes Seven Storey Mountain


1952 Abp. Fulton Sheen's Life is Worth Living debuts on ABC

1956 Thomas Dooley publishes Deliver Us From Evil


1960 John F. Kennedy elected president of the US

1962 Abp. Joseph Rummel integrates New Orleans Catholic schools

1967 Catholic educators issue Land o' Lakes Statement

1968 Pope Paul VI issues Humanae Vitae, American theologians protest


1972 Phyllis Schlafly begins campaign against Equal Rights Amendment

1975 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton canonized (first native-born US citizen)


1984 The US government establishes diplomatic relations with Holy See