Allegheny County



Diamond Jubilee

1863 - 1938

Saint Augustine Church

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



This Page was last updated 23 May 2011



Transcribed and contributed by Nan Smith


printer friendly version of text



St. Augustine Church Diamond Jubilee

Page 62



The New Church—1901

I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of thy house; and the place where thy glory dwelleth.—Ps. XXV,


     The erection of the new St. Augustine's Church has much of the casual about it. In the first year of his pastorate, 1898, Father Charles felt obliged to make extensive repairs that would entail an appreciable outlay. It was necessary to fresco the church, for the smoke and soot of Pittsburgh had wrought their usual havoc on walls and ceiling. Then, too, the cheap quality of the windows made it desirable to replace them by those of better make. When the pastor discussed the matter with the Father Provincial and the church committee there was a difference of opinion. Some advocated a thorough renovation of the church, while others stoutly opposed such a measure. The latter urged that the church, especially the original nave, was poorly built since the walls were only thirteen inches thick. In the not too distant future it would be necessary to build a new church, hence any heavy outlay at present would be a waste of money. However, nothing was more alien to the mind of Father Charles than to sponsor the erection of a new church. The debt still bordered on $30,000 and it would be folly to add to an already heavy burden. Therefore, it was finally decided to fresco the old church and to make whatever repairs were advisable.

But now the unexpected happened. Seeking a substantial donation toward the purchase of new windows, Father Charles called first on Mrs. Mary Regina Frauenheim and her daughter Miss Rose whose generous disposition toward the church and the Capuchin Fathers had been amply evidenced in the past. But no sooner had the pastor broached the subject of new windows than the two ladies replied: "Is it really worth while to expend so much money on that old building?" Jokingly the pastor answered: "If you give me fifty thousand dollars I shall be only too glad to build a new church." Contrary to all expectation, the two interested listeners took the pastor seriously and the elder Mrs. Frauenheim replied: "Let us consider this for a few days and then we shall let you know what we can do."

In high spirits Father Charles returned home and, confident that something big was in the offing, he cancelled all arrangements for work on the old church and awaited tensely the outcome of his visit. Within 'a few days his hopes were fulfilled for Mr. Aloysius Frauenheim, the son and business manager of Mrs. Mary Regina Frauenheim, called on Father Charles and assured him that the family had decided to donate $50,000 towards the building of a new church.

Of course, this settled the matter—a new church would be built. But where? To dismantle the church on Butler Street would mean the destruction of a serviceable building and also the creation of a new problem of arranging for worship during the building period. Then, too, building on the site of the old church would require extensive excavation and this would render the cost of building all the higher. Looking for a desirable site, many suggested that the church be erected to the south of the monastery along Bandera Street, between Thirty-sixth and Thirty-seventh Streets. True, there was an alley between these two streets, but the upper part of it could be used and a new outlet provided. The suggested site comprised eleven lots on which sixteen houses of mediocre value were standing. Regardless of the high price of $48,301.69 demanded, the property was purchased as a site for the church.

The next task was to select a model. It was no temporary church that was to be erected but one that should outlast many generations. Hence stability and dignity must be its marks, for it will reflect for all time the mind and taste of the builder. Father Hyacinth says the pastor invited the suggestions of his brethren and a search was made in books and magazines of every description for a picture of the ideal church. It is interesting to note that while scanning a copy of Der Deutsche Hausschatz,(1) a friar came across a picture of a church that met with unanimous approval. It was a picture of St. Benno's Church in Munich. Like children who had found a treasure, the friars hastened to inform the architect that they had made their choice and that he should model his sketch on St. Benno's Church as portrayed in the old magazine. Father Charles then appointed a building committee consisting of Messrs. Aloysius Frauenheim, Charles Gloeckler, John Helbling, Titus Berger and Jacob Scholl.

The building committee met for the first time on January 10, 1899. The architects of the Rutan and Russell Firm were entrusted with the sketching of the plans, but Mr. John T. Comes, then a promising young Catholic architect of Pittsburgh who worked for this firm, actually made the plans. Accordingly, St. Augustine's Church is probably the first outstanding building designed by Mr. Comes before he had established an independent office. On the occasion of Mr. Comes' death on April 13, 1923, the Fortnightly Review(2) paid him the following encomium:

The death of Mr. John T. Comes, of Pittsburgh, robs the Catholic community in the U. S. of perhaps the most gifted of its ecclesiastical architects . . . Mr. Comes designed a number of splendid ecclesiastical edifices, among them the Kenrick Seminary, near St. Louis, and did real pioneer work in the field of Catholic architecture. His lectures to seminarists on this subject were published in pamphlet form, under the title, Catholic Art and Architecture, and found a wide circulation. The text lays down solid principles on ecclesiastical art and architecture, while the plates, mostly reproductions of photographs of some of the author's work, exemplify these principles as applied to modern parochial buildings. The F. R. was indebted to Mr. Comes for occasional contributions on his favorite subjects.

Having finished the plans, the architects invited competitive bids. But unfortunately, the resulting figure threw all into great consternation. The plans were too ambitious for the coffers of the parish, for the lowest bid asked for more than one hundred thousand dollars. With the present debt above $30,000, the whole idea of building a church was threatened with failure. But again, it was the Frauenheims who, like ministering angels, came to the rescue. When all seemed hopeless, this good family came forward with

(1) A very popular family magazine published at Ratisbon, Germany, from 1873 till about 1920. Catholic Encyclopedia, XI, p. 680.
(2) May 1, 1922, Vol. XXIX, No. 9, p. 165.


St. Augustine Church Diamond Jubilee

Page 63

an offer to double the sum they had already given, thus making their gift $100,000.(3)

     On July 12, 1899, the bid of W. Miller and Sons for $104,098.00 was accepted, and the next day the work of razing the houses on the building site began. On August 17, the foundation stone was laid on the corner of Bandera Street and Thirty-seventh Street, and about two months later on October 29, the ceremony of laying the corner stone took place. At three o'clock the bells of the old church rang out the signal for the uniformed societies to leave their station in front of the present Casino building and march over Bandera Street down Thirty-sixth to Butler Street, thence up Thirty-seventh to the scene of the ceremony. The parade advanced to the accompaniment of the Eighteenth Ward Military Band and was made up of the delegates from practically all the Catholic societies of Pittsburgh, Allegheny and Wheeling. Mr. William Eichenlaub was the chief marshall. Outstanding in the parade were Messrs. Edward Frauenheim, Edward Leopold Frauenheim and William Heyl, three grand-children of Mrs. Mary Regina Frauenheim. These young men carried the large copper box that was to be inserted into the corner stone. Last in the parade came the clergy and the Bishop, the Most Reverend Richard Phelan. When the latter had taken his place on the platform, the choir under the direction of Mr. Aloysius Frauenheim, sang the prayerful number: Wie lieblich sind die Boten, by Mendelssohn. Thereupon Father John Otten, C.S.Sp.,(4) delivered the German address. He said in part:

     People of all times have set aside certain places as holy to God. Thus did the patriarchs of the Old Testament, thus the Israelites, thus King Solomon. The Christian Church, too, does the same. In the early as well as in the later centuries, beautiful churches, magnificent masterpieces of art, have arisen and have been dedicated to God. Who can count the sacrifices which the people have at all times made to rear such temples to God. Today, too, as we stand at the cradle of a temple destined to be the monument of Lawrenceville and the pride of the diocese, we see the fruits of sacrifice. This spirit has always breathed in St. Augustine's, but today especially we see how it has inspired a noble soul to donate a wonderful gift without which the building of this temple would have been impossible.

     A similar spirit dwells in the hearts of the other members of this parish, for they vie with one another in offering their gifts for a house worthy of the Lord's earthly presence . . . We stand here as members of a great Catholic parish. Let us continue to work on this holy temple, let us spare no effort or sacrifice to erect a house to God worthy to contain the graces which He Himself will pour abundantly upon us.(B)

     The choir directed by Mr. M. Mais now sang: Macht die Tore Welt, after which Father John Price, pastor of St. James, West End, preached in English.(8) The speaker described the beauty of the Catholic Church, contrasting it with the churches of other denominations which are mere assembly halls for prayer and song but neither the houses of God nor places of holy sacrifice. The corner stone was then blessed and placed by the Bishop, the Most Rev. Richard Phelan, assisted by Father Joseph Anthony, Provincial, as deacon, and by Father Hyacinth as sub-deacon. The Capuchin Fathers: Charles Speckert, and Chrysostom Jacob were masters of ceremony, and Fathers Raphael M. Schwarz, O.M.Cap., Augustine Noelle, O.M.Cap., and Alphonse Hillenbrand, O.M.Cap., were chanters. The following priests attended: Reverend Fathers A. A.

(3) Hyacinth Epp, MS., II Abschnitt, pp. 79-88. The principal donations were: Frauenheims: M-5. Mary Regina, $40.000; Miss Rose. $40.000; Mr. Aloysius. $20.000; Mrs. Clementine Epping. $5,000; Mrs. Mary Heyl, $2,000; Mrs. J. O'Reilly, $1,000; Mr. Leopold Vilsack, $1,000; Capuchin Fathers, $1,000.
(4) Rev. John Otten, C.S.Sp., was born on March 12, 1853 at Aix-de-la Chapelle, Germany. Ordained in Paris December 23, 1876. Upon arrival in America was stationed at Holy Ghost College and later at Sacred Heart Church, Tarentum. From 1893 till his death on February 8, 1926. he was pastor of St. Mary's Church, Sharpsburg. Diamond Jubilee of St. Mary's Church, Sharpsburg. December 18, 1927, pp. 22-26, 34. Enzlberger, op. cit., 248.
(5) St. Aug., November, 1899, pp. 1, 2.
(6) Rev. John C. Price became pastor of St. James' Church, West End, in July, 1897, and died there on April 11. 1911. His successor, Rev. Thomas P. Gillen writes of him: "Father Price was gifted beyond the ordinary lot of men. As a scholar, a writer, a linguist, or lecturer, he might have achieved fame; but having consecrated his life to the service of God with all the earnestness and zeal of his being, he endeavored to fulfill the duties of his holy priesthood.'' History of St. James' Church and Parish Schools, West End, Pittsburgh, 1916, p. 11.



St. Augustine Church Diamond Jubilee

Page 64


Exterior of Old Church

Built 1862 - 1863

Corner Stone laid June, 1862

Dedicated November 26, 1863

Discontinued as a Church 1901



St. Augustine Church Diamond Jubilee

Page 65

Lambing, John Duffner, George Allmann,(7) Ed. McKeever, Peter Brady, Casimir Elsesser, O.S.B., Corbinian, O.S.B., Bernard Heil, C.P., Ferdinand Immekus, C.P., Jerome, C.P., Gerard Mitsch, C.P., Anthony Durkin, C.P., Ambrose Bruder, O.Carm., Paul Ryan, O.Carm., John Peter Claver Willms, C.S.Sp., B. Strzelczok, C.S.Sp., Joseph Schmitt, C.SS.R., Fr. Lauer, C.SS.R., Gregory Autsch, O.M.Cap., Felix M. Lex, O.M.Cap., Herman Joseph Peters, O.M.Cap., and Didacus Rottlaender, O.M.Cap. The ceremony concluded with a sonorous Te Deum accompanied by orchestra. It is on record that between four and five thousand people witnessed the ceremony. As to the weather, Father Charles says:

     After a stretch of good weather since the beginning of the building operations, it began to rain on Saturday night and threatened to continue. All Sunday morning the clouds were lowering and only about noon did the sky become somewhat clear. But just as the Bishop laid his hand on the stone and adjusted it to place, the clouds parted for a moment and the sun's golden beams streamed through as if to greet and bless the Stone.(8)

     The corner stone weighing one and a half ton was brought from Cleveland and prepared by Mr. James Stehle, a member of the parish. The Latin document placed in the corner stone was composed by Father Joseph Anthony. We give an English translation:


     In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and under the title of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, this stone was blessed and laid with great solemnity, and in the presence of an immense throng of the faithful, by the Most Reverend Richard Phelan. Bishop of Pittsburgh; the Rev. John Otten, C.S.Sp.. and Rev. John Price preaching the sermons; this day, the twenty-ninth of October, in the year of Our Lord, 1889. Hi; Holiness Pope Leo XIII gloriously reigning; William McKinley, President of the United States; Wm. Stone. Governor of the State of Pennsylvania: Wm. Diehl, Mayor of the city of Pittsburgh.

     The stone bears the inscription: "Ecclesia ad Sanctum Augustinum, A.D., 1899," and besides the descriptive document contains: documents listing the name of the Capuchins stationed at St. Augustine's Monastery, the names of the Church Committee, Building Committee, ushers, members of the choir, names of the Sisters attached to the school, and the names of all pastors up to that date. It contains furthermore: copies of the September and October issues of the St. Augustinus; a copy of the Seraphisches Liebeswerk; a copy of the Pittsburgher Beobachter; copies of the Pittsburgh Observer and of the Pittsburgh Catholic; a copy of the Pittsburgh Post; a map of the Ecclesiastical Provinces of the United States; Festive Number of the St. Raphael's Society; Directory of the Knights of St. George; Jubilee 'Number of the C.M.B.A.; Statutes of the L.C.B.A.; various postage and war stamps of the United States; various coins; several photographs; relics of the saints; medals of the Immaculate Conception, of St. Francis, St. Benedict, St. Joseph, and St. Anthony.(9)

      With holy joy the faithful watched the progress of construction. Each day they saw row upon row of brick mount higher until October 20, 1900, when the windows, made in Innsbruck at the cost of $8,034.14, were placed. By November 29, the two stately towers were finished and ready to receive the bells. Again there was a memorable celebration.

     How different the thoughts and ideas of men of half a century ago! How simple, yet how demonstrative in behalf of the faith! Today, when the old order has passed away, a twelve ton truck would rush to the bell foundry, receive its massive burden and grind its way back to the church, But not so in 1900, when the age of speed and of mechanics had not yet dawned. To the religious minds of the past, those bells

(7) Rt. Rev. A. A. Lambing, the eminent historian and founder of the first Catholic Historical Society in the U. S. (February, 1882), then pastor of St. James' Church, Wilkinsburg. Died there as Monsignor on December 24, 1918.
Rev. George Allmann, then pastor of the neighboring German Church of St. Joseph. Bloomfield. Pittsburgh. He was born on June 11, 1844 at Boellenborn. Bavaria, and came to the United States on October 1, 1857. Ordained July 29, 1870. Died as pastor of St. Joseph's, Bloomfield. on May 21, 1901. Bloomfield Monthly Record, April, 1912, pp. 3, 4.
(8) St. Aug., November, 1899, p 2.
(9) Ibid. Hyacinth Epp, Kinderfreund, IX, p. 83.


St. Augustine Church Diamond Jubilee

Page 66

were living things, they had loud powerful voices, and in years yet unborn they would call the living and mourn the dead. Those bells, that play such a significant part in Catholic life, are sacred; they must be treated with reverence and their very acceptance for the holy place must be accompanied with ceremony, solemn and sacred. Viewing today the installation of St. Augustine's bells, one would think himself transported into the ages of faith.

     The entire parish went out in solemn procession to receive the bells on November 29. At two-thirty o'clock the great parade started from the Chaplin and Fulton Foundry on Penn Avenue and First Street where the bells had been cast, and proceeded to Liberty Avenue near St. Philomena's on Fourteenth Street where it met the societies of that church, thence to Twenty-first and Smallman Streets, passing en route St. Stanislaus Church, thence to Penn Avenue and Butler Street, to Thirty-seventh Street. When the parade passed the churches of St. Philomena and St. Stanislaus, their bells, like great tongues from the steeple, pealed out a joyous welcome.

     At the head of the parade rode five policemen followed by Mr. John Fink, the marshall. Then came the mounted guard, fifty-five prancing horses with uniformed riders, followed by the Cathedral band. Next came one hundred Knights of St. George and fifty cadets, the Third Pennsylvania Regiment Band, then, what the Beobachter called the central attraction of the parade—Mr. Constantine Waldvogel mounted on a charger, and beside him young Charles Vilsack and William Koebert, riding ponies.

     The wagons with the bells followed next in the parade. The first wagon, flag-draped and drawn by six white horses carried the great St. George Bell of 5500 pounds, donated by the Knights of St. George. A uniformed guard consisting of Messrs. Peter Loedding, Edward Steinkirchner, Lawrence Fey and Edward Pottmeyer, was stationed on the wagon. The second wagon, decorated in white and yellow and drawn by four horses, bore the St. Mary's Bell, weighing 3000 pounds, the gift of Mr. Leopold Vilsack. Four little girls formed the guard of honor: Leona Lackner, Hilda Limpert, Margaret Fey and Mary Wallace. The last wagon, decked in white and blue and drawn by four horses, carried the St. Joseph's Bell of 1800 pounds, and the St. Raphael's Bell of 750 pounds. Various sources contributed to the purchase of these two bells. The honor guard consisted of four boys: Edwin Helbling, Anthony Schillo, Raphael Dauer and Albert Kalchthaler. Each of the bells was decked with flowers and crowned with a green wreath.

     After the wagons with the bells came the carriages with the Capuchin Fathers and visiting clergy, the Church committee, the Building committee, and the officials of the Knights of St. George. At Thirty-seventh and Butler Streets the marchers formed two lines between which the wagons and carriages passed to the entrance of the new church. While the clergy took their places, the band played and then St. Augustine's choir sang the song: Die Kapelle by Kreutzer. Mr. Joseph Reiman, representing the Knights of St. George, now delivered a masterful oration in which he explained the function of bells and concluded by presenting the bells to the parish.(10) Two days later, on December 2, 1900, Father Hyacinth, Provincial, assisted by the Capuchin Fathers, Joseph Anthony and Gabriel Spaeth, solemnly blessed the bells. Father Herman Joseph Peters, O.M.Cap., preached on this occasion. Shortly after the dedication of the bells it was found that the St. George Bell had an imperfect tone, hence it was recast by the foundry and blessed privately by Father Charles before taking its place in the tower.

     The work of finishing the interior made steady progress and all looked forward to the dedication when suddenly a great sorrow came upon the parish. Mr. Aloysius Frauenheim who had done so much for the advancement of the new church and of the parish in general, died of a heart attack on January 18, 1900. His passing deprived St. Augustine's of one of its most faithful members and the sorrow was general not only in the parish but in the entire city.

     Everywhere he was known as a distinguished Catholic gentleman, a leader both

(10) A more complete description in St. Aug., July 30, 1930, pp. 134-137; Beobachter, November 30, 1900.



St. Augustine Church Diamond Jubilee

Page 67

in the world of business and culture. Born in Riceville on November 25, 1851, he was the eldest son of Edward and Mary Regina Frauenheim. He was educated at St. Philomena's school and at St. Vincent's College, Latrobe. He married Catherine Heyl on November 25, 1874, and the union was blessed with seven children.(11) His first real employment was in the German National Bank, then in the Iron City Brewing Company owned by his father, Edward Frauenheim and Mr. Leopold Vilsack. When the Iron City Brewing Company became the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, Aloysius was elected president. At the time of his death he was Vice-President of the German National Bank, of the Epping-Carpenter Company, and of the German Catholic Press Company, publishers of the Beobachter and of the Observer. He was also a director of the Pennsylvania National Bank and of the East End Charity Hospital, a member of Branch 45 C.M.B.A., and of Branch 5 Knights of St. George and of the Poor Souls' Society.(12)

     Mr. Aloysius Frauenheim was a sterling character. When the German National Bank was about to close its doors he undertook to save it from collapse. It was this constant strain and anxiety that undermined his health and brought on his untimely death. The following is quoted from the Observer of January 25, 1900:

     He was the first to discover the unstable condition of the German National Bank and labored unceasingly to get the bank's affairs in such shape that the creditors would not lose their money. Comptroller of the Currency examined its condition and demanded that the bank building be purchased before allowing it to resume business, and Mr. A. Frauenheim and Leopold Vilsack produced the $450,000 demanded within 48 hours.

     He was in no way connected with the circumstances that led to the bank's condition, but he had a keen pride in its stability, as it had been partly founded by his father, Edward Frauenheim. It is further related that ten days before his death he resigned as president of the Pittsburgh Brewing Company and that the directors refused to accept the resignation but offered him leave of absence with full pay for one year. Mr. Frauenheim, however, refused to accept the offer on the ground that if he could not do the work he would not take the pay. While distinguished in many ways, his outstanding distinction was his heroic Christian charity. "He did much in the way of private charities, but always shrank from any sort of publicity in connection with such gifts." His memory will always be blessed.

     The funeral of Mr. Frauenheim was one of the largest ever witnessed in Pittsburgh. One hundred and seventy carriages were in the procession which arrived at St. Augustine's old church on Butler Street at 10:30. Father Hyacinth Epp, O.M.Cap., rector of St. Alphonsus' Church in Wheeling, and a friend of the family, officiated at the solemn services. Fathers Charles Speckert, O.M. Cap., and Didacus Rottlaender, O.M. Cap., assisted as deacon and subdeacon and Fathers Raphael Schwarz, O.M. Cap., and Augustine Noelle, O.M. Cap., were masters of ceremony. In the sanctuary was the Most Reverend Leo Haid, O.S.B., of Belmont Abbey, North Carolina, assisted by Fathers Joseph Anthony Ziegelmayer, OM. Cap., Provincial, and Casimir Elsesser, O.S.B., as deacons of honor.(13) Many other priests of Pittsburgh and Allegheny and all the local Capuchin Fathers attended the services.

     After the Mass the Most Reverend Leo Haid, O.S.B., school companion and friend of the departed, preached the eulogy. In convincing words he described the deceased as a dutiful husband and father, as a true friend in whom there was no guile, as a faithful son of the Church, a conscientious business man, a wise counsellor, a magnanimous benefactor, a genuine Christian at whose cas-

(11) The Heyls were a prominent family of Lawrenceville. The parents. Martin Heyl (died October 11, 1886) and Anna Barbara Schlosser (died May 10, 1899). had the following children: William A. Theodore, Andrew G., Mary, Lawrence M., Edmund W., Martin, Camillus J., Charles J. William A. Heyl and some of his brothers became prominent businessmen. The present Eintracht on Thirty-sixth Street was formerly the Heyl homestead.
(12) Jordan, op. cit., pp. 153-155.
(13) Bishop Leo Haid was born on July 15, 1849, at St. Vincent's (Latrobe), Pa. Joined the Benedictines in September, 1868. Ordained at St. Vincent's. December 21, 1872. Consecrated Bishop on July 1, 1888, at Baltimore. Enzlberger, op. cit., p. 218; Album Benedictinum, p. 240.



St. Augustine Church Diamond Jubilee

Page 68

ket all might learn that it is possible to be a real, genuine business man and at the same time a practical Catholic. At the grave in St. Mary's Cemetery it was estimated that at least three thousand people had gathered. Whilst the casket was taken from the hearse, a choir of orphan children from St. Joseph's Orphanage sang the touching hymn: Im Grabe 1st Ruh. At the grave the clergy chanted the Benedictus and Bishop Haid pronounced the last blessing. Whilst the mourners departed, the male choir sang: Suesz und Ruhig 1st der Schlummer.(14)

     The new church was dedicated on Sunday, May 12, 1901. The day was appropriately chosen for it commemorated the dedication of the Basilica of St. Francis, Founder of the Capuchin Franciscan Order. The Most Reverend Leo Haid, O.S.B., whose parents had belonged to St. Augustine's for many years and who was a very special friend of the Frauenheim family, blessed the church and pontificated. Father Hyacinth, Provincial, assisted as archpriest, and Fathers J. B. Duffner and J. Otten, C.S.Sp., as deacons of honor. Fathers S. J. Schramm and Marinus Ferg, O.S.B., were deacons of the Mass, and Fathers Gerard Bridge, O.S.B., and Patrick Leinsle, O.M.Cap., were masters of ceremony.(15) Father Joseph Anthony, pastor of St. Alphonsus Church, Wheeling, preached the festive sermon. Again the diocesan and regular clergy headed by Archabbot Leander Schnerr, O.S.B., were well represented, and it is estimated that several thousand people had assembled to witness the outdoor ceremonies. In the evening Father Charles officiated at the solemn Vespers after which Bishop Haid preached in English.

     Joyful and triumphant as was the celebration on Sunday, the leave-taking of the old church on Monday touched the heart with sadness. For it was on this day that the Blessed Sacrament was solemnly transferred from the old church to the new. At eight o'clock the parish assembled in the venerable edifice for a short service of thanksgiving. In few but chosen words Bishop Haid reminded the people of the many graces and blessings that had descended upon them in this very church from which they were about to take leave. Thereupon he took the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle and bore it in solemn procession to the new church. Father Hyacinth describes the scene as follows:

     It was a beautiful sight. An acolyte with the cross and two altar boys with candles led the procession. Fifty little boys carried lilies and fifty little girls strewed flowers in the way. The clergy, chanting the Pange Lingua, followed the children and then came the parishioners. On reaching the new church and reposing the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, Father Charles sang High Mass for the benefactors of the church. When the procession left the old church her bells tolled a solemn farewell and hardly had the last tone died away, when the mighty bells of the new church burst forth in a glorious peal as if they would say: "From now on we shall call the faithful to church and prayer."(16)

     The new St. Augustine's Church is an imposing structure, and its two stately towers and crowning dome give the impression of stability and simplicity. Built in the form of a cross and in the Romanesque style of architecture, it measures 145 feet by 80 feet in the main body and 94 feet in the transept. The material used is vitrified brick with terra cotta trimmings. The facade has three grand portals. The tympanum above the central portal represents Christ the King and Judge of mankind, with the Blessed Virgin and St. Francis kneeling on either side, pleading the cause of those entering the church. The base of the transom is adorned with emblems of the bloody sacrifice of Calvary and of its unbloody renewal in the sacrifice of the Mass. Above the arch of the center portal is a niche with a statue twelve feet high representing St. Augustine, the patron of the church.

     Entering the vestibule, we see above the doors leading to the interior the coat of

(14) St. Aug., February, 1900, pp. 1-4.
(15) Rev. Stephen J. Schramm was born on February 14, 1859, in Pittsburgh. Ordained May 6, 1882, at St. Vincent's, Pa. Pastor of St. George's Church, Southside, since 1888. Enzlberger, op. cit., 240.
Rev. Marinus Ferg was born October 26. 1866, at Neustadt, Bavaria. Came to the United States on October 10, 1882. Joined the Benedictines on July 11, 1888. Ordained March 22, 1890. Curate of St. Mary's, Northside, from September 16, 1897-1902. At present stationed at Nickton, Pa. Enzlberger, op. cit., 112.
(16) Hyacinth Epp, Kinderfreund, IX, p. 123.


St. Augustine Church Diamond Jubilee

Page 69

arms of the Order of St. Francis, that of Leo XIII and that of Bishop Phelan. In the vestibule there is on the one side a marble holy water font, the gift of Mr. Bernard Gloeckler, and on the other the door leading to the choirloft and to the basement. Entering the church proper, we are surprised at the revelation of beauty greeting our eyes. Here the architect, the painter and the sculptor have done their work well. Directly at the entrance on either side we meet two statues of life-size angels holding vessels of holy water. These were imported from France and are the gift of Air. William Baur. The body of the church is divided into three parts by two rows of fluted columns bearing the clearstory and the dome. Separating the sanctuary from the body of the church is the altar railing of pure Parvanazzo and Carrara marble with brass gates; it measures ninety-four feet from wall to wall. This work of art was donated by Miss Rose Frauenheim in memory of Father Maurice Greek, O.M.Cap., and of her deceased brother, Aloysius. Their patron saints, St. Maurice and St. Aloysius, are carved on the pillars of Carrara marble supporting the center gates of the railing.

     The five altars are those of the old church re-decorated for the new. These altars are masterpieces of their type and were carved by Brothers Eleutherius, Hilarion and Elzear, Capuchin lay brothers.(17). All three have long departed this life. The center niche of the altar is occupied by a statue of St. Augustine; to the right thereof is a statue of the Archangel Raphael with Tobias; to the left is that of St. Lawrence. The side altars bear statues of the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, St. Francis and St. Anthony, respectively.

     It is impossible to give here an adequate description of all that is striking in St. Augustine's Church. However, the frescoes adorning the walls are worthy of special mention and study. In the middle section of the sanctuary wall are arches in which are portrayed the great Latin Fathers of the Church, St. Jerome, St. Gregory the Great and St. Ambrose. Since a statue of St. Augustine, the fourth Latin Father, adorns the high altar, the fourth arch is given to St. Albert the Great, now a Doctor of the Church. The latter was the choice of Miss Emma and Miss Catherine Wirth who had these paintings done by Arthur Thomas of New York, in memory of their father, Albert Wirth. Adorning the four great triangles sloping between the arches and pillars beneath the grand dome are heroic figures of the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Two of these paintings were donated by Mr. Michael Letzelter.

     In the arches above the side altar niches there were originally two appropriate mural paintings unfortunately removed at a later date. The one on the gospel side was the gift of the Third Order and represented St. Francis receiving the sacred stigmata; the other on the epistle side, donated by the archconfraternity of Christian Mothers, portrayed St. Monica kneeling on the sea shore and pleading for her son who has just left her by the ship in the distance. Christ was represented on high revealing to the afflicted mother the conversion and future greatness of her son, St. Augustine.

     Truly significant, too, are the two murals on the rear walls of the side naves. The painting above the baptistry, a memorial to Peter and George Schott, vividly illustrates the passing of the Old Law and the acceptance of the New. The blindfolded woman personifies the Jewish Church which, blindfolded by passion, rejected Christ the Savior. She is sitting in darkness and laments the ruins of the temple seen in the background. Her altar is desecrated, her sacrifices rejected, and therefore the seven-armed candlestick that once shed light at her worship lies extinguished and useless at her feet. Rejected by Him whom she ignored, the law of God symbolized by the tables of stone on her arm are a heavy burden. Opposite the blindfolded woman is the pure spouse of Christ, the Church of today, receiving wisdom from the lighted torch at her side and also strength by gathering into a chalice the life-giving blood flowing from Christ on the cross. The Heavenly Father supports the cross while the Holy Ghost hovers over all in the form of a dove. Worshipping angels surround the Blessed Trinity.

(17) Brothers: Eleutherius Guggenbichler died June 18, 1877; Hilarian Busch died April 22, 1898; Elzear Joerger died in Bavaria on July 1, 1926.



St. Augustine Church Diamond Jubilee

Page 70



Very Rev. Hyacinth Epp, First Capucin Pastor, 1874


Father Maurice Greck, Pastor, 1887; Built Present School


Rev. Joseph Anthony Ziegelmayer, Pastor, 1891-1894, 1903-1906, 1912-1915





St. Augustine Church Diamond Jubilee

Page 71

     On the opposite side and above the St. Anthony's chapel is another significant painting, the gift of a member of the Third Order. The painting illustrates the famous responsory of St. Bonaventure in honor of St. Anthony. In the lower section of the picture we see the saint's afflicted clients appealing for help. In the clouds above we behold St. Anthony with lilies, emblematic of his purity, kneeling in supplication before the Blessed Mother and her Divine Child. The Divine Infant looks with pity on the misery below and stretches forth his arms as though granting the prayers of the Wonder Worker of Padua.

     As the new church neared completion there were not wanting generous benefactors who donated the funds for various memorials. Among these were especially the Frauenheims who were not only responsible for the building itself but also solicitous for its interior appointments. Thus the organ built by the Roosevelt Company of Baltimore in 1884 was transferred to the new church and greatly improved by Roosevelt's successor, Adam Stein. The expenses incurred thereby were borne by Mrs. Catherine Frauenheim in memory of her lamented husband, Aloysius Frauenheim, who had used that instrument in the old church. The Stations, artistic products of Mayer and Company of Munich, valued at $1,200.00, were given by Mrs. Mary Regina Frauenheim. The latter also presented the set of white vestments used on the day of dedication. They are of the best quality of silk and masterpieces of embroidery made in Innsbruck at the cost of $2,000. Miss Rose Frauenheim gave the two imposing candelabra of marble and brass on either side of the high altar. They were worth $1200. The sedilia is the gift of Mrs. W. A. Heyl. The chandelier, originally in the dome, and presented by Messrs. Peter Kerner and Andrew Lackner, was in the form of a grand star of seven points and composed entirely of Swiss cut-glass prismatic beads in which were concealed thirty-five electric lights.

     The marble altar with its mosaic of St. Anthony in the St. Anthony Chapel was donated by the Stephen Schultis family. The mosaic was done in the renowned Art Studio at Venice. The altar railing in St. Anthony's Chapel is made of onyx and brass and is the gift of Mrs. Margaret Gruber. One of the reliquaries in this chapel was given by the Reiman children in memory of their father, Mr. Andrew L. Reiman; the other was donated by Mrs. Mary Hager. Thus by the contributions of the many, and by the special gifts of the few, was it possible to erect and equip this imposing temple of God. "I have loved, 0 Lord, the beauty of thy house; and the place where thy glory dwelleth." These words of the psalmist find eloquent expression in the present St. Augustine's Church.(18)

     The total income for the new church from January 1, 1899, till January 1, 1902, was $163,209.24, and the total expenditures during that time were $222,254.27. On January 1, 1902, the total parish debt was $87,958.46. Since the sum of $28,913.43 was old debt, the erection of the new church had added just $59,045.03 to the deficit.(19)

     As already mentioned, the lion's share of the expenses for the new church was borne by the Frauenheim family. Grateful for their heroic charity, the Capuchin Fathers took immediate steps to repay them spiritually. Due to the recommendation of the local Fathers, the Most Reverend Bernard Christen of Andermatt, O.M.Cap., Minister General of the Order, issued a document affiliating to the Capuchin Order Mrs. Mary Regina Frauenheim and her relatives to the

(18) The description of the new St. Augustine's Church as given here is taken from Rev. Bernardine Kuhlmann's pamphlet: Dedication Souvenir of St. Augustine's Church, May 12, 1901, Pittsburgh, pp. 46. Hyacinth Epp, Kinderfreund, IX, pp. 83-85.
(19) Financial Report, January 1, 1902.



St. Augustine Church Diamond Jubilee

Page 72

fourth degree. The document bears the date of February 9, 1899.(20)

     With the dream of a new church fulfilled, the next task that Father Charles undertook was the alteration of the old church into a dramatic hall. "It hurt," says Father Hyacinth, "to profane this house of God in which the Blessed Savior had dwelt so long; in which the Holy Sacrifice had been offered, the word of God preached and the sacraments dispensed. But as there was nothing else to do with it, it was decided to turn it into a hall since in this capacity, even if remotely, it could still serve church purposes."(21)

     Accordingly, this work was done during August, September and October of 1901. Part of the tower was removed and the transepts closed with a wall so that the one became the choir for the friars and the other a large room for parish purposes. A large stage was erected and all necessary equipment was installed. Contractor George Nickel did this work for $7,948.32. The first public gathering in the new hall was on October 22, 1901, when it was formally dedicated. On this occasion the Rev. Joseph F. Bauer had the principal address.

     During the busy years from 1899-1901— the building period—Father Charles was active in other ways for the good of the parish. In the fall of 1899, he founded the St. Augustinus, the monthly church bulletin which made its first appearance on September 10 of that year and is still continuing its mission of instructing the parishioners not only in parochial affairs but also in topics of religion. Father Charles took up a house collection in 1901 for the benefit of the new church. Two years later he installed the bowling alleys in the basement of the old hall which later became the Casino.

     On Christmas, 1901, the members of the parish had additional reason for joy when Father Lewis Centner, a son of the parish, celebrated his first solemn Mass. Father Peter preached the sermon. Incidentally we mention here that the first person to be baptised in the new church was Rose Mary Frauenheim, a grand-daughter of the deceased Mr. Aloysius Frauenheim. She was born on May 2, 1901, and baptized on May 12, 1901. Father Gregory Autsch, O.M.Cap., officiated. The first mission in the new church was conducted by the three Jesuits, Fathers Herman Joseph Elskamp, Aloysius Schuler and Henry Geron. The mission lasted from March 22-April 5.

     Father Charles retired from the pastorate of St. Augustine's in August, 1903, when his brethren elected him to the office of Provincial. He relinquished this position in August, 1906, and became pastor of St. Joseph's, Dover, Ohio. In July, 1909, he was transferred to Kansas where he served as pastor of St. Joseph's, Hays, till July, 1912, when he retired to Victoria, Kansas. From August, 1917, till his death in 1920, he lived in the friary at Hays. Ill health prompted him to seek relief in St. Vincent's Sanitarium at St. Louis, Mo., where he died on March 5, 1920, a few days after his arrival. His remains were returned to Hays for interment in the friars' plot of St. Joseph's Cemetery.

     Father Charles will be remembered as a mild, pious character, a zealous pastor of souls and a keen business man. St. Augustine's Church into whose construction he put his whole soul remains a worthy monument to his name.

(20) Annals of the Cap. Prov. of Pa. St. Augustine's archives. St. Aug., January, 1929, p. 15. It is said that the Frauenheims received a Papal privilege to retain their affiliation with St. Augustine's Church for four generations even if they do live in other parishes. Thus Mrs. Catherine Heyl Frauenheim, wife of Aloysius, was buried from St. Augustine's. She died on May 31, 1925, and was buried on June 3. Rev. Carl H. Demorest, curate at Sacred Heart Church where the deceased belonged, sang the Requiem at St. Augustine's. Likewise, Joseph Aloysius Frauenheim, son of Aloysius, was buried from St. Augustine's although he belonged to St. Gregory's, Zelienople. He died on February 11, 1925, and was buried on February 13, the Rev. James M. Wertz, pastor of St. Gregory's, Zelienople, officiating. Rev. John Lenhart, informant.
(21) Kinderfreund, IX, p. 123.


turn to previous chapter

return to beginning

turn to next chapter






Return to Top of Page


Return to Allegheny County Archives Index Page


Ellis Michaels,  Allegheny County Archives File Manager


Pennsylvania USGenWeb Archives


USGenWeb Archives Table of Contents


USGenWeb Project


Copyright 2011, USGenWeb Archives