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Hero-priest of 1878 pandemic interred in Tennessee basilica


The Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul | Facebook | Fair Use

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 08/07/21

Fr. Patrick Ryan died at only 33 years old, refusing to leave the victims of Yellow Fever.

On July 31, the remains of Fr. Patrick Ryan were moved from a cemetery and interred within Chattanooga’s St. Peter and Paul Basilica. The life of the priest has been under investigation for possible canonization since 2016.

Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville presided over the entombment.

In addition to his death in service of others, Fr. Ryan is also remembered for having brought the order of nuns now known as the Nashville Dominicans to his parish.

A life given

Fr. Ryan and the pastor of the First Presbyterian church — good friends — were among just 1,800 people who stayed in the city, while some 4/5 of the population fled from the pandemic.

Insisting on caring for the victims, Fr. Ryan came down with yellow fever himself on September 26, 1878. He was much sicker on the morning of the 27, and his newly ordained younger brother, Michael, administered the Last Sacraments to his big brother. Father Patrick died on the morning of September 28, 1878. He was 33 years old.

There is as of yet no miracle attributed to Fr. Ryan’s intercession.

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