top of page

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

See here.

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.

hallahan st cecilia.png

St. Cecilia

Patroness of Music

II Century

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.

Hallahan helena relics.jpg

St. Helena

Foundress of Churches

IV Century

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

VI Century

c. 451 - 525

nun, abbess, healer, generous to the poor, founder of schools

Hallahan st gertrude.jpeg

St. Gertrude 

Lover of Books

VII Century

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

XI Century

c. 1045 - 1093

Scottish queen, wife of Malcolm III (the one who ascends the throne and has the last words in Shakespeare's Macbeth). The monument to Shakespeare is one block south of Hallahan High School, in front of the Parkway Central Library.

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

Canonized 1250

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Devoted to the Poor

XIII Century

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.

Canonized 1235

joan of arc.png

Blessed Joan of Arc

Saint and Patriot

XV Century

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

XVI Century

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.

Vittoria Colonna

Patroness of Art

XVI Century

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.

hallahan st teresa.png

St. Teresa

Seraph of Spain

XVI Century

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 believed to be 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

Margaret Roper

Model Daughter

XVI Century

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.

She is linked to Queen Isabella of Spain whose name is also inscribed on Hallahan. Isabella was the mother of Catherine of Aragon, who would become the first wife of Henry VIII of England but was  unable to bear a living male heir. It was Henry's wish to divorce Catherine that spurred the sequence of events leading to the beheading of Margaret's father.

St. Rose of Lima

Rose of the Southern Cross

XVII Century

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

hallahan kateri villanova.jpeg

Kateri Tekakwitha

The Lily of the Mohawks

XVII Century

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.

hallahan st seton.png

Elizabeth A. Seton

Religious Educator

XIX Century 

Born August 28, 1774; Died January 4, 1821

Married 1794

Widowed 1803

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).

There are three more pages to this article on Hallahan: here for the history of the school; here for the interior; and here for the exterior.

bottom of page