Hallahan High School Names in Stone
There are 15 names carved onto three sides of Hallahan High School, not counting the references to Mary on the 19th Street side. Brief biographies are given here, starting from the Wood and 19th Street corner and working counterclockwise around the building, which also is the chronological order.
First a few words about sainthood and process. Colloquially, a saint is a very good person. In some religious groups, like the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, i.e. the Mormons across the street from Hallahan, all believers are saints. In the Catholic Church there is a more structured process to declare someone a saint. The first requirement is that the person has to be dead. A person who is deemed holy by anyone in the community, and can be demonstrated to have exhibited the virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, justice, faith, hope, and charity, has his or her name forwarded to the local bishop. Investigations are then performed on this candidate, at this stage called a "servant of God." If all tests are passed, the Pope will declare the person "venerable." When a miracle can be attributed to the intervention of said venerable one, he or she is promoted to the status of "blessed," or beatified. When a second miracle can be confirmed by the nine-member medical board, the Pope will declare the status changed from beatified to sainted, and the person will join the canon of officially approved saints, i.e. be canonized. Martyrs, those who have been killed for their faith, only need one miracle for sainthood. During the first 1,000 years of the Church, saints were declared by local bishops or even general public acclamation, but now only the Pope has jurisdiction.
Exemplar of Filial Piety
Besides Jesus and Mary (and the prudent virgins who are to keep their wicks trimmed), Esther is the only Jewish person represented on or in the building.
The image shown is a part of a 13th century document, available across the street at the Philadelphia Free Library (online here). It shows Queen Esther and the King on top, and below is the evil Haman hanging from the 50-cubit high gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai, Esther's guardian.
Patroness of Music
2nd century AD Roman noblewoman
Martyred in 230 by beheading
Took vow of virginity but was forced by her parents to marry a pagan nobleman. At the wedding, she isolated herself and sang to God in her heart, and later convinced her husband to maintain her virginity. This wedding song made her the patroness of music. Her husband and his brother were also martyred.
Foundress of Churches
Born c. 246 AD, died c. 330
Empress of the Roman Empire, mother of Constantine the Great, whom she influenced in religious matters
Foundress of churches throughout the Byzantine world and Jerusalem.
Supposed discoverer of relics, including the True Cross and nails.
The first photo above is a "triple Helena:" a photo of a relic of St. Helena on the right and a piece of the True Cross on the left, in the Cathedral of St. Helena, in Helena, Montana. The photo was taken in September 2019 during my visit there. Relics of the "True Cross" are also available on ebay, so caveat emptor.
The second photo above shows one of the Constantine tapestries hanging at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Constantine kneels before his mother, who is touching the true cross.
To see other relics within two blocks of Hallahan, including multiple relics of the True Cross and Pious X, check out this page.
St. Brigid of Ireland
First Woman Educator
c. 451 - 525
nun, abbess, healer, generous to the poor, founder of schools
Lover of Books
c. 626 - 659
Belgian noblewoman who took a vow of chastity and became a nun, abbess, and devotee of scholarly works
Due to her dutiful prayers for the souls in Purgatory, represented in medieval times as mice, she is pictured with mice or rats, and recently has become the unofficial patron saint of cats.
St. Margaret of Scotland
Promoter of Christianity
c. 1045 - 1093
Scottish queen, wife of Malcolm III (the one who ascends the throne and has the last words in Shakespeare's Macbeth)
Pious and charitable, she had a civilizing influence on her husband and tried to align Scottish Catholicism with Rome.
Died three days after being notified of the deaths in battle of her husband and eldest son
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Devoted to the Poor
7 July 1207 - 17 November 1231
Princess of Hungary, married at age 14, widowed at age 20
Extensive charitable works while married, after becoming a widow she adopted a vow of celibacy and lived the life of a nun.
Blessed Joan of Arc
Saint and Patriot
see article on Marian apparitions here.
Her gilded statue is just north of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (above).
Isabella of Castille
Friend of Columbus
22 April 1451 - 26 November 1504
Queen of various Spanish states and married Ferdinand
Funded Columbus' search for a western route to the Indies
In 1492 tried to unite Spain nationally and spiritually, driving Moslems and Jews out of Spain unless they would convert. She and Ferdinand began the Spanish Inquisition in 1478 ostensibly to root out heresy, but also to empower the monarchy.
Given the title Servant of God in 1974 as a step towards canonization.
Patroness of Art
April 1492 - 25 February 1547
Italian noblewoman, married at age 17, widowed age 33, went to live in a convent as a lay person thereafter
Engaged in scholarship and poetry for the rest of her life
Great friend of Michelangelo.
Seraph of Spain
28 March 1515 - 4 October 1582
Spanish noblewoman who chose a life of mysticism, writing, the monastery, and Counter-Reformation renewal of the Catholic Church that built upon the Inquisition.
Canonized in 1622. "Seraph" is a term for a certain level of angel in the hierarchy of angels.
Buried in Alba de Tormes, except for various body parts that were removed as relics every time her body was moved. Those parts (hands, foot, eye, heart, arm, and two fingers) are in six cities. Her body and body parts are described as incorrupt, meaning not deteriorated, despite no special preservation. This is a marker of a saint.
The life-size sculpture of her by Bernini from 1652 is in the Cornaro Chapel in Rome. Titled The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (above), the sculpture itself is a plot point in Dan Brown's 2000 novel and the 2009 film Angels and Demons.
1505 - 1544
born Margaret More, English noblewoman and eldest daughter of Sir Thomas More (the statesman and humanist who refused to recognize Henry VIII as head of the Church of England and was therefore beheaded. He was canonized in 1935 as a martyr).
Married William Roper at age 16, had five children
Aided her father in his correspondence and defended his good name after his death.
St. Rose of Lima
Rose of the Southern Cross
born 1586, died 1617 in Lima, Peru
Cared for the poor while depriving herself, living a chaste and ascetic life, lay member of the Dominican Order
Canonized 1671: first person born in the Americas to be canonized
Her skull, adorned with a crown of roses, is on display at the Basilica in Lima
The Lily of the Mohawks
See end of article on the Lenni Lenape here.
The picture above is of a stained glass window at Corr Hall, built in 1912 at Villanova University. Not all the window is original to the building, as Kateri was not sainted until 2012.
It is interesting to take a short walk from Corr Hall to the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Rosemont College, the chapel having been completed in 1941. The Chapel contains 20 stained glass windows, nine of them showing the same female saints that are inscribed on the sides of Hallahan, including Kateri Tekakwitha. This is not quite a coincidence, since the Sisters of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, an order that staffed one of the original three Girls' Catholic High School Centers, also established Rosemont College in 1921.
Elizabeth A. Seton
Born August 28, 1774; Died January 4, 1821
Converted from Episcopalian to Catholic 1805
Started Saint Joseph's Academy and Free School in Maryland in 1809: first Catholic girls' school in the nation
Canonized September 14, 1975; first native-born United States Catholic saint
Entombed at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland (above).