Peyton, Patrick Joseph

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The "Rosary Priest"; b. Carracastle, Attymass, County Mayo, Ireland, Jan. 9, 1909; d. San Pedro, California, June 3, 1992. One of nine children, Patrick Peyton grew up praying the rosary daily with his parents in their three-room cottage. In 1928 he emigrated to Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a janitor in St. Peter's Cathedral. Upon entering the Congregation of the Holy Cross, he studied at the University of Notre Dame. Diagnosed with incurable tuberculosis in 1939, he regained his health through faith and prayer and was ordained a priest on June 15, 1941. In January of 1942, Peyton decided that in gratitude for his recovery he would give the Blessed Mother ten million homes in which the Family Rosary would be prayed.

As the chaplain at Vincentian Institute High School (Albany, New York), Peyton preached the rosary at parishes throughout the eastern United States and Canada. In 1945, the Mutual Broadcasting Company permitted him to offer a radio program for Mother's Day that coincided with the national celebration of Victory in Europe Day. Two years later, he inaugurated the Family Theater (Hollywood, California), a national radio show featuring Loretta Young, Bing Crosby, and other stars of stage and screen. Airing weekly, it ran for 22 years. Peyton coined the slogan, "The family that prays together stays together." In the 1950s, Peyton sponsored several award-winning television programs. During 1956 and 1957 he produced 15 films on the life of Christ, each treating one mystery of the rosary. In 1973, he arranged the first satellite transmission to North America of the Christmas Midnight Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Peyton also established the Family Rosary Crusade (Albany, New York). Assisted by Holy Cross religious, he organized diocesan crusades, culminating in inspirational outdoor rallies. The first crusade was held in London, Ontario, in 1948. In 1952 Peyton assembled 75,000 people in New York City, 83,000 in London, England, and 150,000 in Melbourne, Australia. In 1960, he gathered 550,000 people in Santiago, Chile; in 1961, 500,000 in San Francisco; in 1962, one million people in Bogotá, Colombia; in 1964, two million in Sao Paolo, Brazil; and in 1985, two million in Manila, the Philippines. In all, Peyton spoke at rallies in more than 40 countries on 6 continents to approximately 27 million people. Peyton is buried at Stonehill College (North Easton, Massachusetts).

Bibliography: j. g. arnold, A Man of Faith (Hollywood 1983). r.e. gribble, The History and Devotion of the Rosary (Huntington IN 1992). p. petyon, The Ear of God (Garden City 1951); Rosary Prayer Book (Albany 1952); All For Her: The Autobiography of Father Patrick Peyton (Garden City 1967).

[r. krieg]