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Harold, William Vincent


Missionary; b. Dublin, Ireland, c. 1785; d. Dublin, Jan. 29, 1856. He entered the Order of Preachers at the Corpo Santo, Lisbon, Portugal, where he was ordained, and then returned to Ireland. He later immigrated to the U.S. and went to Philadelphia, where Bp. Michael Egan named him copastor of St. Mary's Cathedral in 1808 and later, vicar-general. His unusual eloquence soon made him popular. In 1811, his uncle, Father James Harold, arrived in Philadelphia and became involved in a conflict with the bishop. When Egan attempted to transfer James to Pittsburgh, the younger Harold protested so vehemently that the bishop removed him from the vicargeneralship. The Harolds then resigned, and in April 1813, William returned to Ireland.

After Egan's death, the trustees of St. Mary's petitioned Rome that William Harold be named bishop of Philadelphia. Finally Henry Conwell was named instead. Bishop Conwell invited Harold to Philadelphia, assigned him to St. Mary's, and in 1821 appointed him vicargeneral. At the time, the William hogan schism at St. Mary's was growing worse, and Harold successfully defended the Church's rights against the Hoganites. However, before long he began to have differences with the senile bishop, who removed him from the vicargeneralship. Harold refused to accept the removal and was suspended. The Haroldites protested to Rome that Harold's removal was a violation of a pact, but the Congregation of the Propaganda procured an order from the master general of the Dominicans transferring Harold to Cincinnati and added its own mandate. He refused to obey and, as a citizen, appealed to the U.S. government against this transfer order from his religious superior.

When James Brown, the U.S. minister to France, discussed the problem with the papal nuncio in France, the nuncio explained that Harold had willingly assumed the vow of obedience and that, in view of his vow, the Holy See had transferred his residence. This closed the case for Washington. Rome then warned Harold that if he remained in Philadelphia he would lose his faculties and be suspended. Harold temporized until he incurred the penalties. A month later he sailed for Ireland, where he was reinstated. He became once more a successful preacher and was provincial of his order from 1840 until 1844.

Bibliography: v. f. o'daniel, The Dominican Province of St. Joseph (New York 1942). h. j. nolan, The Most Reverend Francis Patrick Kenrick (Catholic University of America, Studies in American Church History 37; Washington 1948).

[h. j. nolan]

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