Missionary, convert, first native of New England ordained to the priesthood, b. Boston, Mass., 1755; d. in Limerick, Ireland, 5 February, 1815. His family were among the early Puritan settlers of New England and all during his career he manifested much of their stern unbending character. Educated at Yale, he became a Congregationalist minister and as such served during the Revolutionary War as chaplain of a company organized for the defence of Boston and of which John Hancock was commander. After the war he wandered over Europe and was in Rome when the beggar-saint Benedict Joseph Labre died. An attempt he made to dispute some of the miracles wrought through Blessed Labre's [ Editor's note : St. Benedict Joseph Labre was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1883] intercession resulted in Thayer's conversion to the Faith, 25 May, 1783. His own account of this conversion, one of the first of prominent New England Protestants, was printed in 1787 and reissued in several editions in the United States in London, and in Ireland. It was also translated into French and Spanish, and created a great controversial sensation at the time. Ambitious to convert his non-Catholic fellow- countrymen, he then took a theological course under the Sulpicians in Paris where he was ordained priest in 1789. He returned to the United States the following year and was put in charge of the newly organized Catholic congregation in Boston but soon failed as a pastor because of his erratic and contentious temper. He left Boston in 1799, and ministered for a very short time at Alexandria, Virginia, whence he went to Kentucky as a missionary. Here he remained for four years, his zeal, however, not compensating for his lack of policy and his infirmity of temperament. His wandering inclinations carried him across the ocean again in 1803 and he finally settled down in Limerick, Ireland, where he died, locally esteemed as a priest of edifying piety and ascetic life. The remainder of his small private fortune, with some gifts he had collected, he left by will to found a convent in Boston. Inspired by this wish the three daughters of a merchant named James Ryan, with whom he lived in Limerick, emigrated to Boston (1819) and there founded the Ursuline Community, whose convent, Mount Benedict, near Bunker Hill, Charlestown, was burned and sacked by an anti-Catholic mob on the night of 11 August, 1834.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online