Discover the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia is an ecclesiastical territory or dioceseof the Roman Catholic Church in southeastern Pennsylvania, in the United States. It covers the City and County of Philadelphia as well as BucksChesterDelaware, and Montgomerycounties. The diocese was erected by Pope Pius VII on April 8, 1808, from territories of theArchdiocese of Baltimore. Originally the diocese included all of PennsylvaniaDelaware, and seven counties and parts of three counties in New Jersey. The diocese was raised to the dignity of a metropolitan archdiocese on February 12, 1875. The seat of the archbishop is the Cathedral-Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul.

It is also the Metropolitan See of the Ecclesiastical Province of Philadelphia, which includes the suffragan episcopal sees of AllentownAltoona-JohnstownErieGreensburg,HarrisburgPittsburgh, and Scranton. The territory of the province is coextensive with the state of Pennsylvania.

History of the archdiocese

The history of the Catholic Church in the area dates back to William Penn and when Masswas said publicly as early as 1707. On April 8, 1808, the suffragan dioceses of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown (moved to Louisville in 1841) were erected by Pope Pius VII from the territory of the Diocese of Baltimore, which was simultaneously raised to the rank of metropolitan archdiocese. Michael Egan was appointed as the first bishop and was consecrated as a bishop on October 28, 1810, by Archbishop John Carroll.

In 1868, the dioceses of Harrisburg, Scranton, and Wilmington were erected from the territory of the diocese. Philadelphia was raised to a metropolitan archiepiscopal see on February 12, 1875, with Harrisburg and Scranton as suffragan dioceses. On January 28, 1961, the five northern counties of Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton, and Schuylkill were split off from the archdiocese, to create the Diocese of Allentown.

By 1969, the archdiocese had grown to 1,351,704 parishioners, 1,096 diocesan priests, 676 priests of religious institutes and 6,622 religious women.

Beginning in 2005, members of the diocese and its hierarchy have been heavily impacted by sexual abuse scandals. Two grand jury reports, guilty pleas and convictions indicate administrative mishandling of cases and other issues.

Further information: Sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic archdiocese of Philadelphia

In February 2012, the diocese announced the largest reorganization of their elementary and high school education system, with numerous recommended school closings and/or mergers.

In a Thursday, August 23, 2012 online news story article about the Archdiocese's schools by Lou Baldwin of Catholic News Service(CNS), it was announced that the Faith in the Future Foundation would assume management of the seventeen archdiocesan high schools and the four special education schools.


Diocesan Bishops

See: Diocesan bishop


  1. † Michael Francis EganOFM (1808–1814)
  2. † Henry Conwell (1819–1842)
  3. † Francis Patrick Kenrick (1842–1851)
  4. † Saint John Nepomucene NeumannCSsR (1852–1860)


  1. † James Frederick Wood (1860–1883)
  2. † Patrick John Ryan (1884–1911)
  3. † Edmond Francis Prendergast (1911–1918)
  4. † Dennis Joseph Cardinal Dougherty (1918–1951)
  5. † John Francis Cardinal O'HaraCSC (1951–1960)
  6. † John Joseph Cardinal Krol (1961–1988)
  7. † Anthony Joseph Cardinal Bevilacqua (1988–2003)
  8. Justin Francis Cardinal Rigali (2003–2011)
  9. Charles Joseph ChaputO.F.M. Cap. (2011–)

† = deceased

Auxiliary bishops


Educational institutions

See also: Catholic schools in the United States

Elementary schools

See also: Category:Roman Catholic elementary schools in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The first Catholic school established in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was at St. Mary Parish in Philadelphia during the late eighteenth century. During the nineteenth century, Bishop Kenrick encouraged the establishment of Catholic schools. Subsequently, St. John Neumann (1851–1860) made the establishment of parish elementary schools a priority and by 1860 there were seventeen parish elementary schools in Philadelphia. Between 1900 to 1930, Catholic elementary schools increased to 124 schools in Philadelphia and 78 schools in the four suburban counties. Between 1945 to 1965, 62 new Catholic elementary schools were established.

Special Needs schools

With the foundation of Archbishop Ryan School for Children with Deafness in 1912, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia embarked on a proud history of serving families of children with special needs. In 1951, John Cardinal O'Hara responded to the requests of hundreds of parents who sought education, and particularly education in the faith, for their children with mental retardation. As a result, St. Katherine Day School and Our Lady of Confidence School were opened in 1953 and 1954 respectively, and again in response to parent petition, St. Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairment was founded in 1955. Queen of the Universe Day Center was added in 1980 to serve students with mental retardation in Bucks County. These five schools of special education have been generously supported by the Catholic Charities Appeal.

High schools within the archdiocese

See also: Category:Roman Catholic secondary schools in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Diocesan high schools

Leadership within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia envisioned a continued comprehensive education for secondary students.

The first free Catholic high school in the United States was the "Roman Catholic High School of Philadelphia", founded for the education of boys in 1890. (It is often referred to as "Roman Catholic", occasionally as "Catholic High", and most commonly as "Roman".) The "Catholic Girls High School" was founded in 1912. Mary McMichan, one of the school's founders, requested in her last will that the school be renamed in honor of her brother. The school became "John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls High School" after her death. Both schools are still in existence.

Between 1916 and 1927 West Catholic Boys and Girls and Northeast Catholic were opened. Despite the economic hardships of the 1930s and 1940s, seven more diocesan high schools were founded. During a 22-year growth period from 1945 to 1967, fifteen high schools were opened.

Philadelphia high schools
Bucks County high schools
Chester County high schools
Delaware County high schools
Montgomery County high schools
Former Philadelphia Archdiocese Parochial High Schools

Private high schools

Though not funded or operated by the archdiocese, the following independent schools operate "with the blessing and spiritual support of the archdiocese:"


Colleges and universities within the archdiocese

Note: Each Roman Catholic college and university within the archdiocese is affiliated with a religious institute, rather than the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Saints of Philadelphia

Stages of canonization in the Catholic Church
Servant of God   →   Venerable   →   Blessed   →   Saint

Shrines of Philadelphia

See also: List of shrines#United States






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