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Souvenir of Loretto Centenary


    When the present brick church was built (1850-53), an excavated basement was considered unnecessary. It was before the days of hot air, steam or hot water apparatus, and the churches, when heated at all, were heated by stoves set in the aisles or against the side walls. Hence in building the present Church of St. Michael, the joists supporting the floor rested but a short distance above the ground, and as little or no provision was made by the architect for ventilation, they were soon affected by the dry rot which gradually consumed them. It was only a question of time when the floor was bound to collapse; and so it happened during high mass on Sunday, May 13, 1866. A regular panic took possession of the people who filled the church. Many were trampled nearly to death in the excited crowd rushing for the front and sacristy doors. Some even broke out the window glass to make their escape more quickly. Believing that the entire church was collapsing, Rev. Father Reynolds, the pastor, who was celebrating mass, hastily left the altar; but learning the nature of the catastrophe, and knowing its cause, he immediately returned and quickly restored order. Those who had fled to the outside now returned and mass was continued. Had the people reflected for an instant they might have known that nothing serious could have occurred; for on the north side, at any rate, where the panic was greatest, the floor could not have sunk more than a few inches before resting on solid ground.
    To add to the confusion, just as mass was ended a most violent wind and rain storm burst forth with remarkable fury; and many, whose nerves were already excited by the experience just gone through, imagined that the church was about to fall. At both masses on this day a collection was taken up for Rev. Pollard McCormick Morgan, the assistant priest of the parish, who, on the following morning, was to start on a trip to Europe.

    After the death of Father Gallitzin, on May 6, 1840, Rev. Thomas Heyden was appointed pastor of St. Michael's; but

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Last Updated: 30 Mar 2008
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Lynne Canterbury, Diann Olsen and contributors