Catholic History Trek
By Scott Schulze & Kevin Schmiesing
A podcast exploring the history of the Catholic Church, especially the historical background of contemporary Catholic practices and issues. Hosted by Kevin Schmiesing and Scott Schulze.
Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia
Celebrate Independence Day with Catholic History Trek, as Kevin travels to a church right down the street from Independence Hall - Old St. Joseph’s Church in Philadelphia - to recount the beginnings of Catholicism in the state of Pennsylvania. ("Cradles of Catholicism” series, no. 4, Pennsylvania)
July 03, 2022
Venerable Fulton Sheen
A towering intellect, an enthralling preacher, a media celebrity — and a mediocre bishop whose remains provoked an unseemly battle after his death. Scott and Kevin explore the remarkable story of the man who’s been called “the most popular and socially influential American Catholic of the 20th century.”
June 17, 2022
The Other Assassination Attempt on Pope John Paul II
On the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima in 1981 a Turkish gunman attempted to kill Pope John Paul II. One year later, a former priest also attempted to kill the pope. Scott covers this lesser known second assassination attempt.
June 06, 2022
Ohio’s First Parish: St. Joseph, Somerset
Kevin does some Ohio Church history, finding that the state’s oldest Catholic community isn’t as “off the beaten path” as it first seems. (“Cradles of Catholicism” series, no. 3, Ohio)
May 28, 2022
A Pilgrimage through Kevin’s Book
We’ve been mentioning it off and on since the beginning of our podcast, and now it’s finally here: A Catholic Pilgrimage through American History. Scott’s probing questions lead Kevin to reflect on all the most important aspects of his new book, including the role of firearms in protecting Catholic churches.
May 17, 2022
The Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Seems easy enough. But is it? Left to Right, or Right to Left? Fingers opened or closed? Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost? Scott explores the history of the usage, hand movements, and words associated with the Sign of the Cross. (“Catholic Prayers” series, no. 5, Sign of the Cross)
May 07, 2022
Pope Gregory IX, the Castigater of Cats?
In this episode Scott treks thru the papacy of Gregory IX, who battled both heresy and an obstinate emperor. And investigates whether the pontiff condemned Europe’s cat population to death.
April 25, 2022
The Nine-Hour Episode
Well, the podcast only takes twenty-eight minutes, but Scott and Kevin outline the history of the nine "canonical hours” in the Divine Office — or Liturgy of the Hours — the ancient set of prayers that has been recited daily by priests and religious during almost the entire history of the Church.
April 16, 2022
Catholic Australia: St Mary MacKillop & Radio Replies
Catholic History Trek finally treks to Australia, as Scott covers the country's first canonized saint, Mary of the Cross, and the history of the Catholic apologetics book, Radio Replies.
April 06, 2022
The Lord's Prayer
Scott covers the history of the Lord's Prayer, also known as the "Our Father", including St. Jerome's translation challenges and the extra line some Christians add to the end of the prayer. (“Catholic Prayers” series, no. 4, Lord’s Prayer)
March 30, 2022
The Puzzle of the Pope’s Stone
In this preview of his forthcoming book, Kevin tells the story of an anti-Catholic incident that temporarily brought to a halt the construction of one of America’s most recognizable landmarks.
March 23, 2022
Scott and Kevin describe the life and times of this consequential thirteenth-century cardinal and archbishop, who had a major impact on two of western civilization’s great documents: the Bible and the Magna Carta.
March 16, 2022
Scott explores the history of this most popular of Marian prayers, the Hail Mary. (“Catholic Prayers” series, no. 3, Hail Mary)
March 05, 2022
Catholicism on the Bourbon Trail
Kevin continues his series of sneak peeks at chapters of his book by delving into the history of St. Thomas Church near Bardstown, the “cradle of Kentucky Catholicism." (“Cradles of Catholicism” series, no. 2, Kentucky)
February 25, 2022
Killed at the Communion Rail: Fr. Leo Heinrichs
Scott covers the history of Fr Leo Heinrichs OFM, a 20th century martyr in America who was killed while celebrating the mass.
February 19, 2022
More Marian Titles
In honor of an important anniversary, Scott and Kevin revisit an early podcast topic: Titles for Mary. Listen in as they chat about Our Lady of Covadonga, Stella Maris, the Black Madonna — and the historical reliability of Indiana Jones.
February 11, 2022
The Catholic School
Marking Catholic Schools Week, Scott and Kevin tour the history of this venerable institution, working their way from the catechetical school of the early Church to the parochial school of the American church.
January 28, 2022
The Catholic Plymouth Rock
Kevin provides an update on the status of his book and offers a preview of one of the book’s chapters: St. Mary’s City, Maryland, the cradle of Catholicism in the Thirteen Colonies. (“Cradles of Catholicism” series, no. 1, Maryland)
January 15, 2022
Better than Hollywood: Mother Dolores Hart
Kevin tells the story of Dolores Hart, who traded the glitz and glamor of the Hollywood film industry for the quiet obscurity of a rural New England monastery.
January 01, 2022
Scott explores the life of St Norbert, from self-absorbed cleric to holy penitent and bishop. Also covered are the religious order he founded, the Canons Regular of Premontre, commonly known as the Norbertines, who are celebrating their 900th anniversary in 2021.
December 29, 2021
The Beacons Are Lit! Parishes in the Past and Present
Scott and Kevin use the current reorganization of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati as a springboard to discuss the nature and history of the basic elements of the Church’s structure: parishes and dioceses.
December 16, 2021
Saint Gabriel Possenti and the Passionists
Saintly Sharpshooter? Potential patron saint of handguns? Scott explores the history of St Gabriel Possenti and the religious order, the Passionists, of whom he belonged.
December 06, 2021
Squanto and the First Thanksgiving
Although the Pilgrims were definitely not Catholic, there was at least one Catholic at the First Thanksgiving: the native guide and interpreter Squanto. Scott and Kevin examine the historical background of Thanksgiving, especially the Catholic side of the story.
November 23, 2021
The Swiss Guard
Scott and Kevin converse about “the pope’s army,” the 500-year old military unit that guards the gates of the Vatican. Looking for a deep dive into Swiss Guard weaponry? Scott has it covered.
November 11, 2021
Dracula: Blood sucking vampire? Impaler? Battler of Ottoman Turks? Catholic? Scott sorts out fact from fiction and uncovers the troubled history of Vlad of Wallachia, and how he became Dracula of popular culture.
October 31, 2021
The Papal States
The phrase “Italy invaded Rome” may sound nonsensical, but it happened in the 1870 — and the millennium-long existence of the papal states came to an end. Kevin and Scott survey the history of the pope’s territories over the course of twenty centuries, ending up at the world’s smallest nation, Vatican City.
October 22, 2021
Our Lady of Ransom
Aaaarrr, thar be pirates! For centuries, Muslim pirates enslaved millions of European Christians along the Mediterranean Sea. A 13th century apparition of the Blessed Virgin to a Dominican, a king, and nobleman prompted the establishment of a religious community to ransom these enslaved Christians.
October 10, 2021
Scott and Kevin tell the story of St. Francis of Assisi and the founding and growth of one of the Church’s most prolific religious orders. They meet a lot of other saints along the way, as they travel through the centuries and across the world, from medieval China, to colonial Spanish America, to twentieth-century Poland. Bonus material includes our hosts’ personal Franciscan connections and, after a long and painful absence from Catholic History Trek, a railroad reference.
October 02, 2021
The 355-Day Year
Almost 500 years ago, the month of October was shortened by ten days — by order of the pope. He was Gregory XIII, and we’ve been using the “Gregorian" calendar ever since.
September 25, 2021
Food and Drink
Cappuccino and croissants, champagne and king cake, pierogis and Dom Perignon. Scott and Kevin take a toothsome trek through the entwined histories of Catholicism and some popular foods and beverages.
September 10, 2021
Kevin and Scott dive back into the sixteenth century to explore the creation and development of an obscure but influential religious order: the Clerics Regular, or Theatines. Scott reveals that brown isn’t the only option when it comes to scapulars.
August 26, 2021
Soul of Christ, sanctify me. In this episode Scott explores the history of the Anima Christi prayer, often wrongly attributed to St Ignatius of Loyola. Along the way he discusses a 14-year-old bishop, anti-popes, and provides a surprise ending. (“Catholic Prayers” series, no. 2, Anima Christi)
August 14, 2021
Recounting the history of the Catholic Eucharistic liturgy is a massive task, but Scott and Kevin dust off their missals and do their best to get it rite, trekking from Justin Martyr to Pius V to Paul VI and beyond.
August 07, 2021
Santo Anello: Mary's Wedding Ring
Is the Santo Anello, housed in Perugia, Italy the wedding ring given by St Joseph to the Blessed Virgin Mary? In this episode Scott treks thru thefts, unpopular paintings, and mystical visions to uncover this history of the Santo Anello, or "Holy Ring".
July 24, 2021
From the Easter Vigil to excommunication, you can find candles burning brightly throughout the history and liturgies of the Catholic Church. In this episode — composed of at least 51 percent beeswax — Scott and Kevin shed some light on the Church’s candle-using traditions.
July 15, 2021
Memento Mori: Blessed Giovanni Giovenale Ancina
“What you are, I once was. What I am, you will be.” Scott investigates Blessed Giovanni Giovenale Ancina and his connection to the peculiar tradition of saints who kept human skulls in the Catholic spiritual practice of Memento Mori. Along the way, St Philip Neri makes an appearance, as does a fresco that was lost for centuries.
July 12, 2021
The Deepest Bias? Anti-Catholicism in American History
From the Revolution to the Know Nothings, from Bible riots to Amy Coney Barrett, Scott and Kevin trace anti-Catholicism through its long and disreputable career as a major player in the history of the United States.
July 03, 2021
Kevin describes the historical background of these responsory prayers, “multifaceted gems” of Catholic spirituality.
June 25, 2021
The Pope's Armies
We know the pope as the Successor of Peter, the Supreme Pontiff, and the Holy Father. But as a Leader of Armies? In this episode Scott presents a history of various military units which have served under the papacy.
June 22, 2021
The Sacred Heart Devotion
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is everywhere in today’s Catholic world, but it wasn’t always so. Scott and Kevin explore the background and development of this popular devotion, including the pivotal role of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. And Scott outdoes himself with not one, but two, train references.
June 09, 2021
The Original Flagpole Sitters: Anchorites & Stylites
Scott seeks out the history of the elusive anchorites and stylites, the Christian ascetics who went to great extremes to achieve solitude and seek a closer union with God.
June 04, 2021
A Catholic Guy Gets a Holiday
The plot thickens as Scott and Kevin tread carefully through the explosive history of the conspiracy to assassinate King James I and its long lasting aftermath. The failed scheme of Guy Fawkes and his accomplices provoked anti-Catholic measures, implicated priests, and created a new English holiday.
May 26, 2021
Kevin and Scott explicate the connection between the papacy and higher education, focusing on the development of a unique institution: the pontifical university.
May 13, 2021
When in Doubt, Call It a Church
Shrine, basilica, cathedral - what's the difference? Kevin goes deep into the terminological weeds to sort thru the various titles for places of worship. Put on your cappa magna and join the expedition into the history and customs of Catholic nomenclature.
May 07, 2021
Scott provides a "front row seat" to the history of seating in churches, and highlights a time when pews were rented.
May 04, 2021
28th International Eucharistic Congress
Scott covers Eucharistic devotion in France which grew into the International Eucharistic Congresses. The 28th such congress, which drew nearly one million Eucharistic pilgrims to Chicago, Illinois, is highlighted.
April 24, 2021
Kevin and Scott hit a few highlights in the history of one of the Church’s most illustrious religious orders, the Society of Jesus. In perhaps the oddest reference ever made on Catholic History Trek, Scott invokes the pop singer Toni Basil to introduce the Martyrs of Nagasaki.
April 14, 2021
American Civil War Chaplain: Fr William Corby
Kevin and Scott unveil the priest memorialized in Notre Dame's "Fair Catch Corby" statue.
March 30, 2021
The miraculous image of Colombia: Our Lady of Las Lajas
In a Colombian 2-for-1, Scott unveils a pair of miraculous Colombian images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The reason-defying "Our Lady of Las Lajas" and the "Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquira" painting.
March 24, 2021
The Prodigious Pasteur
Scott and Kevin recall the life and work of Louis Pasteur, and find that Catholicism and science walk hand-in-hand through history.
March 18, 2021
From Cyprian to Coronavirus: Catholic Health Care
Did you know that Christianity gave the world its first hospitals? Kevin takes a quick tour of the history of Catholic care for the sick, spotting a lot of saints along the way.
March 14, 2021
Are the Minor Orders "Out of Order"?
Scott visits the historic minor orders of the Catholic Church, including recent changes by Pope Francis.
March 11, 2021
Church Music through the Ages
Starting with the Psalms and ending with the Polka Mass and covering a lot of stuff in between, Kevin and Scott try to hit the most important notes in this survey of the history of liturgical music in the Catholic Church. A bonus: Kevin sings bass with the Schmiesing Family Singers.
March 04, 2021
Choo-Choo! Here comes the church. Scott shares the history of Catholic chapel rail cars.
February 26, 2021
Popes against Kings
Scott and Kevin “go to Canossa” (among other places) to describe a few of the most prominent examples of popes and bishops taking on kings, queens, and emperors in defense of Catholic doctrine and Church authority. We also learn that the 1569 Rising of the North was not led by girls.
February 20, 2021
The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South: Flannery O’Connor
Kevin takes a tour through some Catholic literary history by summarizing the life and work of this important twentieth-century author. Along the way, he talks about wingless chickens.
February 13, 2021
Scott and Kevin offer much food for thought in this meaty episode on the history of fasting and abstinence in the Church. Among the delights in this smorgasbord of Catholic custom: a detailed explanation of the lost season of Septuagesima.
February 06, 2021
Saint Michael Prayer 2.0
In this episode, Scott explores a mystic vision and changes to the mass, and shows how they are related to a popular Catholic prayer devoted to Saint Michael the Archangel. (“Catholic Prayers” series, no. 1, St Michael)
January 28, 2021
Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches 2.0
This episode keeps Kevin and Scott close to home as they describe and provide the historical backstory for the “Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches,” a German Catholic enclave in rural western Ohio. (Version 2.0 updated 15 March 2021 with improved audio quality)
January 23, 2021
Saint Benedict Medal
Scott treks thru the history of St Benedict and the medal that bears his name.
January 14, 2021
Battle of Vienna
Scott and Kevin recount the monumental 1683 battle between Christian and Muslim forces, including its background and consequences. There are a couple of relevant musical clips along the way, for which credit goes to the Swedish metal band Sabaton (“Winged Hussars”) and to Polish Eagle (“Bogurodzica”).
January 11, 2021
Marian Apparitions: Our Lady of Good Help
Scott presents the first and only Marian apparition site in the United States which has been approved by the Catholic Church.
January 04, 2021
Camino and Canterbury
Scott and Kevin verbally trek to Spain and England to explore two of Christendom's most popular pilgrimage destinations.
December 30, 2020
We summarize the development of the Church’s liturgical calendar and describe one traditional element in particular: Ember Days.
December 19, 2020
Marian Titles 2.0
We highlight and explain the historical origins of a few of the many titles used by the Church and the Christian faithful for Mary, the mother of Jesus. (This episode is titled 2.0 because the audio was updated in June 2022 to improve some quality issues which existed on our earliest episodes)
December 19, 2020