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Diocese of Salt Lake

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Includes the State of Utah, and slightly more than half of the State of Nevada. The State of Utah (with the exception of a rectangular piece in the extreme northeast corner, included within the boundary lines of Wyoming), forms a parallelogram, which has a length of 350 miles north and south, and an extreme width of nearly 300 miles. Embraced within the boundaries of the state is a total area of 84,970 square miles, of which 2,780 square miles is water surface leaving a land area of 82,190 square miles. Nevada has a total area of 110,700 square miles and of this area 71,578 square miles belongs to the Diocese of Salt Lake, viz., the Counties of Elko, Lander, Eureka, White Pine, Lincoln, and Nye, a group of counties in the eastern part of the state. This westerly boundary of the diocese, beginning at the extreme northwest corner of Elko County on the state line between Nevada and Oregon and two miles west of 117° W. long., follows south along a line parallel to this meridian for a distance of one hundred miles to the Battle Mountains, when it turns abruptly to the west, along the northerly slope of these mountains for a short distance, and then follows a south-westerly line to a point a little south of 40° N. lat. From here it continues south along an irregular line, skirting the western slope of the Shoshone Range, and thence, by an abrupt turn to the left, along a line parallel to the boundary between Nevada and California, it goes back to 117° W. long., which it again closely follows across the Ralston and Amargosa deserts to the southern boundary of the state. This part of the diocese lies within the Great Basin, except an area of about 12,000 square miles located in the extreme southerly end, the drainage from which flows into the Colorado River.

Bounded on the north by the States of Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon, on the west by the western part of Nevada, on the south by California and Arizona, and on the east by Colorado, the Diocese of Salt Lake extends from 109° to 117° W. long., and from 35 to 42° N. lat. This is an immense territory, sparsely settled, made up of mountains, deserts, sheep ranges, arable valleys, and alluvial lands. The Catholic population is found largely in mining camps, along railroad sections, in Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Park City. The region embraced by the diocese is overwhelmingly Mormon. In 1886 all the territory now included within the boundaries of the diocese constituted a vicariate Apostolic, and the Rev. Lawrence Scanlan, the missionary then in charge, was raised to the episcopate and the vicariate committed to his care. In 1891 the vicariate Apostolic was erected into a diocese, and the Right Rev. Lawrence Scanlon, D.D., fixed his see permanently at Salt Lake City. The history of Catholicism in Utah and Nevada practically began when, early in 1873, Father Scanlan settled in Salt Lake City as pastor of a little parish in the city, and missionary priest over all Utah and more than half of Nevada. Before his appointment the pioneer priests, Fathers Raverdy, E. Kelly, James Foley, and Patrick Walsh, visited or resided for a brief period in Salt Lake City. When Father Scanlan took charge, there was only one small church in the great territory. Today the statistics of the Church in this region are: estimated Catholic population, Utah and six Nevada counties, 20,000; parishes, 9; missions and stations, 33; parochial and missionary priests, 21; Marist Fathers, 10; Sisters of the Holy Cross, 108; Sisters of Mercy, 12. All diocesan and parochial property is vested in the bishop, who holds it in trust for the people. The Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalen, Salt Lake City, dedicated in August, 1909 by Cardinal Gibbons, is one of the greatest ecclesiastical structures west of the Missouri River. The bishop, as pastor of his large parish, is assisted by five curates, who visit the Catholic institutions of the city, preside at the catechism classes and direct the sodalities of the Holy Angels, the Sacred Heart, the Children of Mary, and the Altar Society.


All Hallows College, Salt Lake City; founded by Bishop Scanlan in 1886; conducted by the Marist Fathers (Very Rev. Dr. Guinan, president), has an annual attendance of 200 pupils, taught by 15 professors; St. Mary's Academy, Salt Lake City; conducted by 33 sisters of the Society of the Holy Cross (Sister Alexis, superior), annual attendance,ú Convent of the Sacred Heart, Ogden, sisters, 23; pupils, 230; Kearns St. Ann's Orphanage, Salt Lake City, orphans 160, cared for by 10 sisters of the Holy Cross; Judge Mercy Hospital, Salt Lake City, conducted by Sisters of Mercy, Holy Cross Hospital, Salt Lake City, under the care of Sisters of the Holy Cross; the Sisters of the Holy Cross have charge of the parish schools at Salt Lake City, Ogden, Park City, and Eureka. In nearly all the parishes and in all the houses of education, the League of the Sacred Heart, and Sodalities of the Children of Mary and of the Holy Angels are flourishing.


SALPOINTE, Soldiers of the Cross, HOWLETT, Life of Rt. Rev. Joseph P. Machebeuf; DE SMET, Letter published in Precis Historiques (Brussels, 19 Jan., 1858); CHITTENDEN, Father De Smet's Life and Trarels among the North American Indians; HARRIS, The Catholic Church in Utah.

About this page

APA citation. Harris, W. (1912). Diocese of Salt Lake. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Harris, William. "Diocese of Salt Lake." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Joseph E. O'Connor.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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