September 18 – The first time US Congress went to Mass

September 17, 2015

Phillippe-Charles-Jean-Baptiste-Tronson Du Coudray

Soldier, born at Reims, France, 8 September, 1738; died at Philadelphia, U.S.A., 11 September, 1777. He was educated for the army and showed great merit as an engineer. He was adjutant­ general of artillery and considered one of the best military experts in France when, in 1776, he volunteered to go to America to assist the colonists in their revolt against England. Silas Deane and Benjamin Franklin, the American agents, promised him a commission as major-general with command of the artillery. This stipulation gave great offence to the officers already attached to the army when he arrived from France, in May, 1777, with twenty-nine other officers and twelve sergeants of artillery. Several of the more prominent threatened to resign. As a compromise he was made inspector-general 11 August, 1777, with the rank of major-general, and assigned to command the works along the Delaware. On 11 Sept., 1777, he was drowned while crossing the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia, the horse on which he was seated becoming frightened and dragging him overboard.

His grave is here within the burial yard of Saint Mary's Catholic Church.

His grave is here within the burial yard of Saint Mary’s Catholic Church.

Congress gave him an official funeral and attended his requiem Mass, 18 Sept., 1777, in St. Mary’s church. This was one of the four occasions on which Congress was officially present at Mass during the Revolution, the others being the requiem on 8 May, 1780, for Don Juan de Miralles, the agent of the Spanish Government, and the Te Deums on 4 July, 1779, and 4 November, 1781, all being celebrated at St. Mary’s, Philadelphia. Du Coudray was buried in St. Mary’s churchyard, but the grave is now unknown.


GRIFFEN, Catholics and the American Revolution (Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, 1907); Cyclopedia of Am. Biog., s. v.; SHEA, Hist. of Cath. Ch. in U. S. (New York, 1889-92); HEITMAN, Historical Register of the Officers of the Continental Army (Washington, 1893).

THOMAS F. MEEHAN (Catholic Encyclopedia)


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