Skip to main content

Alemany, Joseph Sadoc


Dominican missionary, first archbishop of San Francisco, Calif.; b. Vich, Spain, July 13, 1814; d. Valencia, Spain, April 14, 1888. He joined the Order of Preachers in 1829. Six years later secularization laws closed the Spanish religious houses, and he completed his studies in Italy. Ordained at Viterbo, Italy, in March 1837, he engaged in further study and pastoral work in Rome.

In 1840 Alemany was sent to the United States to serve the Dominican foundations in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. He soon perfected his English and became an American citizen (1845) while gaining experience as curate and pastor in several frontier parishes and as rector of Nashville's diocesan seminary. In 1849 he was named American provincial and left for Rome the following spring to attend a general chapter of his order. While there he learned of his appointment by Pius IX as bishop of Monterey in Upper California. After remonstrating unsuccessfully with the pope, Alemany was consecrated in the Church of San Carlo al Corso, Rome, on June 30, 1850 (nine weeks before California became a state). En route to California, he stopped in France and Ireland to seek recruits and help for his distant see. He arrived in San Francisco in December 1850, and by the end of January 1851 was established at Monterey, where the chapel of the presidio served as cathedral. As bishop of Monterey, the 36-year-old Dominican had jurisdiction over both Upper and Lower California as well as much of the land now comprising Nevada and Utah. The Mexican government protested his control over Lower California (Mexican territory) and withheld the proceeds of the pious fund, an important source of income. Although he had few priests and fewer usable churches in the area, he was still able to report some progress at the First Plenary Council of Baltimore (1852).

On July 29, 1853, Alemany was named archbishop of the new provincial See of San Francisco, and Lower California was removed from his jurisdiction. As archbishop, he attended Vatican Council I (186970), where he was a member of the 24-man commission to explore the teaching on papal infallibility. At the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884), he was chairman of the commission of bishops reporting on the expediency of a uniform catechism. After directing his rapidly growing archdiocese for three decades Alemany requested a coadjutor, and on Sept. 16, 1883, Patrick William Riordan, of Chicago, was consecrated for this post. In November, Alemany traveled 1,000 miles to Ogden, Utah, to meet Riordan and welcome him to San Francisco, and from that meeting a close friendship developed. On Dec. 28, 1884, Alemany resigned his charge into the hands of his coadjutor and retired to Spain. He was appointed titular archbishop of Pelusium and devoted his efforts to restoring the Dominican Order in his native country. He served in the parish of Nuestra Señora de la Pilar, Valencia, until his death. At his request, his remains were entombed in the ancient church of Santo Domingo in Vich, where he had been received into the Dominican Order 60 years before. In 1965 Alemany's remains were returned to San Francisco for interment in nearby Holy Cross Cemetery.

Bibliography: A complete biographical study is j. b. mcgloin, California's Pioneer Archbishop: The Life of Joseph Alemany, O.P., 18141888 (New York 1965). An earlier monograph is f. j. weber, A Biographical Sketch of Right Reverend Joseph Sadoc Alemany, Bishop of Monterey 18501853 (Van Nuys, Calif. 1961).

[j. b. mcgloin]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Alemany, Joseph Sadoc." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . 19 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Alemany, Joseph Sadoc." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . (March 19, 2019).

"Alemany, Joseph Sadoc." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved March 19, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.