Should Philadelphia's seminary sell its art work?

The Philadelphia archdiocese has always been one of the crown jewels of bricks-and-mortar American Catholicism, as well as a bastion of ethnic Catholicism -- and crony clericalism, alas.

All of those things, once sources of pride, are now threatening to sink the archdiocese, and  Archbishop Charles Chaput has taken many radical steps to try to right the ship and steady its finances.

The latest step: a plan sell the remarkable collection of art of the archdiocesan seminary, which includes home-grown treasures like portraits by Thomas Eakins, Philip Pearlstine, and Alice Neel.

The Inky reports:

The portraits tell a story of particular significance to the history of the seminary and its robust role in the spiritual and intellectual life of Philadelphia.

Although he was most likely agnostic, and in his youth was strongly anticlerical, Eakins established keen friendships with several seminarians, a story vividly illustrated by these works.

Perhaps none rises to the rarefied aesthetic level of Eakins' The Gross Clinic, offered for sale by Thomas Jefferson University in 2006 and acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for $68 million after an intense fund-raising campaign to keep it in the city.

But that does not diminish the window the portraits open onto the life of Gilded Age Philadelphia, a time when the Catholic Church was expanding and Eakins was boring into the urban psyche.

Seminary and diocesan officials say that they are still evaluating their options and that no decisions on sales have been made. But sources close to the diocese say the appraisal process has begun.

They also say that the National Gallery in Washington has expressed interest.

Yes, it's easy to say the Catholic Church should sell its art and put the money to better purposes. And as the seminary rector says, "It's a seminary. It's not a museum."

But giving up such treasures, especially sending them out of town, seems painful to me. Philly isn't Detroit. Not yet. Is there some way to keep them in the seminary on display for paying customers? Or a way to keep them in the city?

Or should the church just sell them?



  1. “Yes, it’s easy to say the Catholic Church should sell its art and put the money to better purposes.”

    Those child abuse cases aren’t going to settle themselves. They need the cash.

  2. Hey there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems
    with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was
    hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of hard work due to no back up.
    Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?

  3. I see a lot of interesting posts on your page. You have to spend
    a lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work, there is a tool
    that creates unique, google friendly articles in couple of seconds,
    just type in google – k2 unlimited content

  4. Finally, a juice fasting diet helps eliminate cravings and
    addictions if practiced for a considerable period of time.
    Any kind of rapid weight loss plan should be
    accompanied with charging the metabolism of the body. Perhaps you have found
    that whenever you diet, it will always be a constant see-saw
    of some pounds up and few pounds down. Firstly, there’s the stress of what the fast does both mentally and
    physically. That ought to be the circumstance
    with one of these quick strategies to trim down.

  5. Appreciating the hard work you put into your blog and in depth information you
    present. It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that
    isn’t the same old rehashed material. Wonderful read!

    I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my
    Google account.

  6. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Many thanks, However I am encountering problems
    with your RSS. I don’t kmow why I cannot subscribe to it.
    Is there anybody having identical RSS problems?
    Anyone whoo knows the solution can you kindly respond?

Leave a Comment