Born May 13, 1813 of Jewish parents in Altenstadt, Bavaria, he began to show interest in Christianity as a young boy, which did not sit well with his parents. He eventually applied to the Bishop of Augsburg to receive instruction in the Catholic faith, but the bishop declined because of his young age. Later, he was living, at eighteen, in Pisa, Italy. On June 24, 1832 he was received into the Catholic faith by Msgr. Pietro del Testa, Vicar General. Then Mr. Welch applied to the Passionists in Rome. After eighteen months his request was granted and he made his novitiate in Lucca, Italy. He professed his vows on October 9, 1834 and after studies was ordained on March 16, 1839 in Ferentino, Italy by Bishop Macioto. Three years later, on March 16, 1839 he was sent to the Passionist mission in Bulgaria. After ten years work there he was recalled to Rome where he was assigned to parish work in an unnamed church. In 1857 he was assigned to work in the United States. He arrived on February 1, 1857 on the SS. Fulton. On February 1, 1862 he became a United States citizen. His first assignment was pastor at St. Michael’s Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he served for thirteen years. Then he went to St. Mary’s, Dunkirk, New York for ten years. Baltimore, Maryland followed. For the next sixteen years he suffered from failing eyesight. He was able to speak German, Hebrew, Latin and Italian but did not apply himself seriously to study English. In 1892 he suffered a slight stroke. It appears he wrote an autobiography of his conversion which is said to be in the archives in Rome.
May 13, 1813
October 9, 1834
March 16, 1839
August 18, 1894
James of the Heart of Jesus Hoffzugott-Welch