Father Matthias Brown, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1837-1894)

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Born James Brown of Presbyterian parents on April 3, 1837 in Edinburgh. Scotland he received a commercial education and then joined the British Army where he served as a clerk and accountant to the Quartermaster at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. He studied math in his leisure hours. When his military service ended he came to the United States and became a bookkeeper for an English steel company. He then went to Cincinnati, Ohio and lived near Immaculata Parish staffed by the Passionists. He started attending services on a regular basis and he was thought to be Catholic. On October 1, 1871 he entered the Catholic Church under the direction of Father Guido Matassi. He then decided to be a lay-brother. Bishop Purcell decided to support him with the hope that he would teach mathematics in the Seminary. He accepted the offer and taught at the seminary for two years. Still he wanted to be a priest and James Brown entered the Passionists. He was professed on February 27, 1876. On December 21, 1880 he was ordained a priest in West Hoboken, New Jersey. No records exist as to the ministry of Father Brown from 1880 to 1887. Beginning in 1887 he served as a chaplain at the Hudson County welfare institution at Laurel Hill, New Jersey which was known as Snake Hill. In 1893 while riding in a carriage back to the West Hoboken monastery he was struck by a train and though he was lucky to escape with his life as a result of the injury he took a turn for the worse and died several months later. When his body was transferred from the monastery vault to the outside, forty years after his death, his body was found to be incorrupt.