Off Script with Dan Dwyer: Goeff Brown, “Lakeville Crucifix”

n the 1880s, a Catholic priest in rural Lakeville, Connecticut erected a crucifix on the front lawn of his parish church — in a predominately Protestant village. Some villagers were enraged. They petitioned the priest to remove the crucifix. The parishioners responded by boycotting the merchants who had signed the petition. The story ran on the first page of the New York Times, and other newspapers all over the United States. Things went rapidly downhill from there. That’s the story in a nutshell. It really becomes interesting when you mix in state and national politics, Irish immigration, major changes in the Roman Catholic church, the Puritan history of New England, and a familiar topic today: nativism. Mixed with all of these were unique personalities — some of national reputation and some not — who dramatically affected all of the various outcomes. Then, as if by magic, the story disappeared from view. This volume, based on extensive research in primary sources, brings the Lakeville crucifix back to life, along with the background material necessary to comprehend why things happened the way that they did.


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