City named for the Catholic founder of, Maryland, Cecil Calvert, second Lord Baltimore, and see of the oldest diocese of the Catholic Church in the United States.
The first white man settled on the site in 1682, and the town was planned and named in 1730.
Complete religious liberty was enjoyed until seizure of the government by the Puritans (1652-1658), after which it was restored until 1692.
The first German Catholic congregation was established in 1702, and in 1755 nine hundred Catholic Acadians went to Maryland, and though Catholics were forbidden to harbor them they obtained an unfinished house in Baltimore to serve as a chapel.
A Catholic school established in the city in 1757 was forced to close by the violent persecution of Protestant clergymen.
The mission at Baltimore was first attended by priests from the Hickory Mission (founded 1720), and in 1766 the Jesuits arrived.
The church was subject to English religious superiors until in 1784 Reverend John Carroll, brother of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, was appointed prefect Apostolic for the United States.
He established residence in Baltimore c.1785, and was consecrated bishop in 1790.
He established a house of Sulpicians (Saint Mary's Seminary) in 1791, and in 1793 the first priest was ordained in the city.
In 1791 the first diocesan synod in the United States was held in the bishop's house in Baltimore.
Carroll officiated in Saint Peter's church, built c.1770, until the erection of the new cathedral of the Assumption in Grecian Ionic style, designed by Benjamin Latrobe, a Protestant friend of Bishop Carroll, who performed his services gratuitously.
Baltimore was made an archdiocese in 1808.
Begun in 1806, the cathedral was completed in 1821, consecrated in 1873, and within its walls have convened three plenary councils, ten provincial councils, the first seven of which were practically plenary for the United States, and nine diocesan synods.
The First Plenary Council (1852) proclaimed allegiance to the pope and belief in the entire Catholic faith, declared enactments of the seven provincial councils obligatory for all dioceses in the country, prescribed the Roman Ritual and Baltimore Ceremonial, and adopted various measures for parochial and diocesan government.
The Second Plenary Council (1866) declared the Catholic doctrine on Divine Revelation, the one Church of Christ, nature and necessity of faith, the Holy Scripture, the Holy Trinity, the future life, and veneration of the Blessed Virgin and the saints; adopted regulations on the hierarchy and government of the Church, ecclesiastical persons, ecclesiastical property, the sacraments, Divine worship, uniformity of discipline, and education of youth.
The Third Plenary Council (1884) made further regulations for parochial and diocesan government, the sacraments, education of the clergy and Catholic Youth, church property, and ecclesiastical trials; decreed six holy days of obligation for the country, appointed a commission to prepare a catechism for general use, to be obligatory when published, and signed the postulation for the introduction of the cause of the beatification of the Jesuit martyrs Isaac Jogues and Rene Goupil and the Iroquois virgin Catherjne Tekakwitha.
Baltimore has been the seat of a line of illustrious archbishops, including Kenrick, Spalding, and Gibbons, whose personal popularity and love of American institutions disarmed much prejudice and put the Church in a new light before many who had misunderstood its teaching and position.
Parishioners of the cathedral have included the most distinguished Catholics of their times, and some of the most prominent figures in American history, notably Charles Carroll of Carrollton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney.
An undenominational college was conducted under the auspices of Saint Mary's Seminary of Saint Sulpice from 1803 until 1852 when Loyola College was founded by the Jesuits.
Saint Patrick's school, begun by Reverend John Moranville (died 1824) preceded all public schools in the city.
In 1828 the Colored Oblate Sisters of Providence were founded by Reverend Jacques Joubert, and in 1831 the Carmelites arrived in Baltimore.
The Jesuits were formally established there in 1833, and in the same year Archbishop Whitfield erected from his private fortune Saint James's church for English-speaking Catholics, which passed later to the Redemptorists who built there the first convent of their order in the United States.
The Visitation Nuns were established in 1837 under Mother Juliana Matthews, Sisters of Notre Dame, 1847, of Mercy, 1855, of the Good Shepherd, 1864, in a home donated by Mrs. Emily Mactavish, Little Sisters of the Poor, 1869.
Saint Francis Xavier's church for colored Catholics was dedicated in 1864 and placed in charge of the Josephites brought from Mill Hill, England (1871).
On the occasion of the diocesan centenary (1889) leading Catholic laymen participated in a Catholic congress, the first in the United States.
There are 60 Catholic churches in the city and 56 parochial schools.
New Catholic Dictionary