Faith of the Mosblechs
I always knew Gustav Mosblech came to St. Louis, Missouri in 1881 to work for one of the many breweries active in the city. What I did not know at the time is that Gustav like many other German Catholics probably left his country to escape state persecution of Catholics after German unification. Otto von Bismark, the Chancellor of Germany after unification in 1871, passed a number of anti-Catholic laws.
German Catholics in North Rhine-Westphalia, where the Mosblechs lived, and a few in Bavaria left Germany to escape this persecution and settled in the United States. In most large American cities, Irish Catholics dominated the local Catholic community.
However, St. Louis boasted of one of the larger German Catholic communities dating back to the 1820s. The strong presence of German Catholics in St. Louis proved an inticement for more German Catholics to settle in the Gateway City.
Gustav would have likely ended up in St. Louis anyway. St. Louis breweries were recruiting brewers from Germany, so Gustav’s skills would have been in demand. A vibrant German Catholic community would have been a very pleasant surprise though.
It was through the St. Louis German Catholic community that my great grandparents, Eduard Mosblech and Magdalena Elker met. A tight knit community, August and Bertha Elker were friends with August and Bertha Mosblech. The families encouraged Eduard’s interest in Magadalena.
Eduard and Magdalena married at St. Mary of Victories Church on April 28, 1907. Magdalena’s parents were married in the same church on October 28, 1879.
When Eduard and Magdalena started their young but soon to be large family, they started attending another German Catholic Church, St. Francis de Sales in South St. Louis. Often called the “Cathedral of South St. Louis”, the new church was built in 1908. The St. Louis Cyclone of 1896 seriously damaged the original church built in 1868.
Until the 1930s, church services and classes at the parish school were often conducted in German. As the City of St. Louis became more cosmopolitan, so did the city churches. St. Francis de Sales ceased being identified with the German Catholic community and became a home for Catholics of all nationalities.
Faced with a diminishing St. Louis population, the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis has been forced to merge many parishes. In 1993, St. Agnes parish was merged with St. Francis de Sales. In 2005, St. Francis de Sales closed as a parish but remains as an oratory.
The Insititute of Christ the King Sovereign Priests, a group dedicated to the Latin liturgy, hold masses at St. Francis de Sales. The designation as an oratory saved this beautiful church. You can take a visual tour of the church by clicking here.
Sources: St. Louis’ German Catholics by Father William Barnaby FahertyPin It