Rhode Island

[seal of the state of Rhode Island] The 13th state to be admitted to the United Stations (19 May 1790). Although the Rhode Island charter of 1663 supposedly guaranteed freedom of conscience, a book of laws published in 1719 expressly excepted Catholics from holding office. Fair-mindedness towards the religion of the French allies brought tolerance in the wake of the Revolution, and in 1783 the obnoxious provisions of the law were repealed. During the encampment of Rochambeau's army at Providence and Newport in 1780, French chaplains offered Mass for the troops. Negro uprisings in Guadeloupe sent French refugees to Newport and Bristol towards the end of the 18th century, and these settlements were visited from Boston by Reverend John Thayer in 1791 and 1798, and later by Reverend Francois Matignon and the future Bishop Cheverus. By 1828 there were about 1000 Catholics in the state. Bishop Benedict Fenwick of Boston appointed Reverend Robert Woodley their pastor, and services were held in 1828 at Newport, in a former schoolhouse on Barney Street purchased for the purpose. In 1830 a church was erected on Mount Vernon Street by Reverend John Corry. The first church in Providence was built on the site of the present cathedral in 1837, also by Father Corry. The Diocese of Providence comprises the state.

New Catholic Dictionary

NCD Index SQPN Contact Author