Frederick George Holweck

Frederick George Holweck (born Friedrich Georg Holweck; 29 December 1856–15 February 1927[1]) was a German-American Roman Catholic parish priest and scholar, hagiographer and church historian. Monsignor Holweck contributed a number of articles to the Catholic Encyclopedia.[2]

As rector of St. Francis de Sales Church in St. Louis, Missouri, he was tasked with rebuilding the church after the original was destroyed by the great St. Louis Tornado of 1896. The second edifice, incorporating many of the characteristics of German ecclesiastical architecture is familiarly known as "the Cathedral of south St. Louis".[3] He also served as vicar-general of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.


Frederick George Holweck was born in Weisloch, Baden, Germany on 29 December 1856, the son of Sebastian and Mary E. Holweck. He was educated at the gymnasia in Freiburg and Karlsruhe.[4] Because of the Kulturkampf in Germany, he emigrated with his parents to the St. Louis area. Holweck studied at the German Roman Catholic Seminary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was ordained on 27 June 1880. Father Holweck served as an assistant in Jefferson City before returning to St. Louis, where he was assigned as assistant pastor at the Church of St. Francis de Sales in South St. Louis. The parish had been founded in the 1860s to serve the German immigrant community.[3]

Holweck could speak nearly 15 European languages fluently.[5] From 1896 to 1892, he served as rector in Riviere aux Vases, Missouri. In May 1892, Holweck was appointed to the new St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish in the city's famed "Hill" Neighborhood. A temporary frame church building, in honor of St. Aloysius, was dedicated on 16 October 1892 as well as a school building. Masses were largely in German. Around the turn of the century, numerous Italian immigrants arrived in the district. In 1903, Rev. Holweck invited Rev. Ceasar Spigardi of St. Charles Borromeo Church in St. Charles, Missouri, to organize a mission for Italians in the St. Aloysius building. This mission raised funds to organize the St. Ambrose parish, which served primarily the recent Lombard immigrants, who were able to move into their own temporary building by year’s end.[6]

Church of St Francis de Sales, St. Louis, Missouri

In 1903 Holweck returned to St. Francis De Sales Church as pastor. As the church had been destroyed by the tornado of 1896,[7] he was charged with building a new one to meet the needs of the growing parish.[8] The building was completed in 1908.

At the end of his life he was honored with the title Monsignor,[9] and appointment as domestic prelate to the Pope, and served as Vicar-General for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Monsignor Holweck served as pastor of St. Francis de Sales until his death in 1927. He was buried on the Priests Lot at Old Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery[10].


Holweck had received an extensive advanced theological education. His 1892 Freiburg dissertation collected 940 Marian feasts and customs.[11] He supported the St Louis Catholic Historical Society, as an original researcher into the local history of the diocese and in other fields.[12] Holweck was a contributor to the Catholic Encyclopedia. His manuscripts are held by Saint Louis University.

  • Fasti Mariani sive Calendarium Festorum Sancte.Mariae Virginis Deiparae Mcmoriis Historicis Illustratum. Auctore F. G. Holweck (Archdiocese of St. Louis) Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1892. (Googlebook in Latin original) Reviewed critically in
- UK Jesuit periodical This Month Vol 76 October 1892 and another contemporary
- US periodical American Ecclesiastical Review, Volume
  • Historical archives of the Archdiocese of St. Louis (1918)
  • A Biographical Dictionary of the Saints (1924)
  • The seal of confession: A drama in five acts. Adapted from Father Spillman's story "A victim to the seal of confession." (1924)
  • Calendarium liturgicum festorum dei et dei matris Mariae (1925), edition of the Fasti Mariani
  • The American Martyrology


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Holwech, Right Reverend Monsignor Canon Josef", The Catholic Encyclopedia and Its Makers, Encyclopedia Press, Incorporated, 1917, p. 79  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ a b Jonsson, Greg. "Cathedral of south St. Louis undergoes rebirth", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 4, 2010
  4. ^ "Holweck, Frederick George", The Catholic Encyclopedia and Its Makers, Encyclopedia Press, 1917, p. 79
  5. ^ "Biographical Notes", Archives, St. Louis University
  6. ^ Allen, Michael. "Preserving St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church", Preservation Research Office, 18 December 2005
  7. ^ "Early (pre 1900) St. Louis Places of Worship". Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  8. ^ "About § St. Francis de Sales Oratory, St. Louis Latin Mass". 26 November 1908. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  9. ^ "Dogtown History of Cheltenham and St. James Parish by P.J. O'Connor". Archived from the original on 18 February 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  10. ^
  11. ^ John Francis Baldovin, Maxwell E. Johnson, Between Memory and Hope (2000), p. 400.
  12. ^ John Paul Cadden, The Historiography of the American Catholic Church, 1785–1943 (1978), p. 110.