Bishop Tobin blesses papal decree which established the Diocese of Providence in 1872


PROVIDENCE — The Vatican document signed by Pope Pius IX which created the Diocese of Providence in 1872, was placed on display and blessed by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin Sunday at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the diocese.
The authentic copy of the papal bull issued by the Holy See on February 16, 1872, was showcased in an antique-style frame adorned with the diocesan seal, along with an English translation of the Latin document, which bears the seal of the Vatican Apostolic Archive. At the bottom is the date the papal decree was issued.
“As we bless and dedicate this decree which established the Diocese of Providence in 1872, and as we celebrate the anniversary of our diocese, help us to be mindful of and grateful for the blessings of the past, and inspire us to embrace the challenges of the future with confidence and hope. Lord, you have done great things for us and we are filled with joy,” Bishop Tobin said as he blessed with holy water the framed decree, which was placed on an easel between the lectern and the cathedral’s advent wreath.
During his homily, Bishop Tobin spoke about the papal bull and the legacy that has flowed from it.
“It’s much more than just a historic document, however. It’s really, you might say, the birth certificate of a new church, a new diocese here, the Diocese of Providence, and everything that has gone on, all the good things that have happened for 150 years. It’s a truly beautiful and important document that we have before us today.”
The bishop also acknowledged Thomas H. Lynch, the artist designer who designed and executed the frame displaying the historical document.
Lynch, whose forte is designing historical timelines, is a former corporate advertising and design professional who now creates three dimensional visual studies of institutions. His clients have included Providence College and LaSalle Academy and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and the historic Union Oyster House in Boston.
“It was a privilege to do this and it’s very important for the history of the diocese,” Lynch said of designing the display for the diocese to commemorate its 150th anniversary.
“Being a devout Catholic it’s a privilege to do this.”
Lynch found it intriguing to learn in framing the English translation of the papal bull that the early boundaries of the newly created Diocese of Providence once encompassed the Massachusetts coastal towns of Mattapoisett, where his art gallery and studio are located, and Marion, where he had lived for 20 years.
“So I felt a connection to it in that regard. Very interesting,” he said. “I just feel bad that the Diocese of Providence lost all that beautiful territory,” in the years since its founding.
To view the Mass on the Diocese of Providence’s YouTube channel at which Bishop Tobin blessed the papal decree, visit


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