Francis Ashe, O.S.A.

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1820 – 1848 (March 13)

Francis Ashe was born in January, 1820, in Cork, Ireland. In 1837, he entered the novitiate in Italy and was ordained to the priesthood by December 15, 1842.

Sometime between May and August, 1843, Father Ashe emigrated to the United States with Father John O’Dwyer and professed cleric and sub-deacon, William Harnett, and began parochial duties at the parish of Saint Augustine, Philadelphia. The parish register of 1843, lists him as having performed his first baptism on September 3, and his first marriage on October 9. He was also among the first faculty members of Villanova College, when it opened in September of 1843.

Father Ashe was living together with Father Thomas Kyle at Saint Augustine when the church and friary were destroyed by fire on May 8, 1844. The baptismal record on that date contains this notation in Father Ashe’s handwriting: “Our most beautiful church was burned by the Americans.”

Father Ashe assisted Father John O’Dwyer, pastor of Saint Augustine Parish, and celebrated Sunday Mass at Villanova College. During the week he taught at the college.

Father Ashe died on Monday evening, March 13, 1848, at the age of 28 of an acute infection. He was buried in the vault of St. Augustine Parish Church. A notation in the files of the province’s archives, reads, “He was beloved by all who knew him, and died regretted by his numerous friends and particularly by the congregation of Saint Augustine’s who will feel his loss.”