Buffalo, New York

Article

A few Recollect and Jesuit missionaries and their interpreters, early in the 17th century, are thought to have been the first white men who saw this region. As their routes are not known in detail, it is uncertain whether they visited the exact site of Buffalo, as did La Salle and his companions in the winter of 16781679. Early in the 19th century the small number of white settlers here included a few Catholics, especially Alsatians. Though without a priest they assembled for prayer at the home of Louis Le Couteulx, at the corner of Main and Exchange streets. In 1821 Father Patrick Kelly of New York came to the village and conducted a public service. It is recorded also that Father Stephen Badin said Mass in the court-house and at the Le Couteulx home. When Bishop Dubois of New York visited Buffalo in 1829 he found between 700 and 800 Catholics but no church. For this purpose the land at the corner of Main and Edward streets was donated by Le Couteulx, and after singing a solemn high Mass in the court-house the bishop went in procession to the site and blessed it. The same year he sent the first pastor, Father John Nicholas Mertz, and in 1832 a small rough timber church was completed and was called the church of the Lamb of God. The churches of Saint Louis, Saint Patrick, and Saint Mary had been erected by 1847, when the Diocese of Buffalo was established. In 1849 the Christian Brothers opened Saint Joseph’s College, and in 1851 the Oblates of Mary Immaculate established a college and seminary. The first boarding-school for girls was opened by the Grey Nuns in 1857. In 1872 the weekly “Catholic Union and Times” was founded. From the time of the completion of the Erie Canal Buffalo grew rapidly in commerce and industry; this caused a great increase in immigrant population, and in 1897, of the 31 Catholic churches in the city, 11 held some services in German, 6 in Polish, 1 in French, and 1 in Italian. In 1915 the new cathedral was completed. The same year the Jesuits opened a seismological observatory in connection with Canisius College.

MLA Citation

  • “Buffalo, New York“. Gazetteer of the Faith. CatholicSaints.Info. 16 August 2013. Web. 19 November 2017. <>