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James DeKoven (September 19, 1831 – March 19, 1879) was a priest, an educator and a leader of Anglican Ritualism in the Episcopal Church.

James DeKoven
James DeKoven.gif
BornSeptember 19, 1831
Middletown, Connecticut
DiedMarch 19, 1879
Venerated inAnglican Communion
FeastMarch 22



DeKoven was born in Middletown, Connecticut and educated at Columbia College. In 1851 he was admitted to General Theological Seminary and was ordained as a deacon in 1854 in Middletown. He accepted a teaching position at Nashotah House in Wisconsin and became rector of the nearby St. John Chrysostom parish in Delafield. It was there that he was ordained as a priest by Bishop Jackson Kemper.[1] In 1859 he became the warden of Racine College and continued to be at the center of that school for the rest of his life.

He led the cause for ritualism at the National Conventions in 1871 and 1874. DeKoven was several times nominated and even elected as a bishop, but was never ordained to the episcopate. He was nominated or elected as bishop of Massachusetts (1873), Wisconsin (1874), Fond du Lac (1875), and Illinois (1875). In the Illinois election he was elected by the clergy and the laity, but the standing committee refused to accept his election. The reason given by the standing committee was his ‘doctrine on the Holy Eucharist.’ An open letter written in the Milwaukee paper on January 14, 1874 was at least partly responsible for his Eucharistic doctrine being questioned. The signers of this letter included three teachers from Nashotah House.[2][3] He also addressed the Church Congress (a series of national meetings to cast a vision for the Episcopal Church) in 1876.[4]

De Koven remained in Wisconsin for the rest of his life, turning down calls to lead some of the nation's largest and wealthiest parish churches, including Trinity Church in New York City, Church of the Advent in Boston, and St. Mark's Church in Philadelphia.[5]

Death and legacyEdit

After suffering a fall on the ice, De Koven died on Saint Joseph's Day (March 19) in 1879. He is buried on the grounds of Racine College, now the DeKoven Center, in Racine, Wisconsin.[6][7] His feast day is March 22.[8]

Popular cultureEdit

DeKoven's image is used as a graphic by the rock band Monstrance, which is composed of clergy from the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee.


  1. ^ William Pope, The Life of Reverend James De Koven, pp. 9-13
  2. ^ The Life of Reverend James De Koven by William Cox Pope, pp. 44-63
  3. ^ The Catholic Movement in the American Episcopal Church by George DeMille pp 92-94
  4. ^ Robert Prichard, A History of the Episcopal Church, p. 184
  5. ^ William C. Pope, Life of the Reverend James de Koven, D. D., Sometime Warden of Racine College (New York: James Pott & Company, 1899). Chapter 8, available at
  6. ^ James Kiefer's Christian Biographies
  7. ^ Life of the Reverend James de Koven, D.D./ Thomas C. Reeves, James De Koven, Anglican Saint (1978.)
  8. ^ Lesser Feasts and Fasts p. 194

Further readingEdit

  • Sermons Preached on Various Occasions by James De Koven (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1888)
  • The Story of a College by James De Koven (Manuscript, dated Middletown, Connecticut, 1862)
  • The Catholic Movement in the American Episcopal Church by George E. DeMille (Philadelphia: Church Historical Society, 1941)
  • Lesser Feasts and Fasts (New York: Church Publishing, 1979)
  • The Life of the Reverend James De Koven D.D.: Sometime Warden of Racine College by William Cox Pope (New York: James Pott & Company, 1899)
  • A History of the Episcopal Church by Robert W. Prichard (Harrisburg: Morehouse, 1999)

External linksEdit