Patrick William Riordan

The Most Reverend
Patrick William Riordan
Archbishop of San Francisco
See San Francisco
Installed December 21, 1884
Term ended December 27, 1914
Predecessor Joseph Sadoc Alemany
Successor Edward Joseph Hanna
Ordination June 10, 1865
Consecration September 16, 1883
Personal details
Born (1841-08-27)August 27, 1841
Chatham, New Brunswick, Canada
Died December 27, 1914(1914-12-27) (aged 73)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Nationality Canadian
Denomination Roman Catholic Church

Patrick William Riordan (August 27, 1841 December 27, 1914) was a Canadian-born clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of San Francisco from 1884 until his death in 1914.

Early life and education

Patrick Riordan was born in Chatham, New Brunswick, to Matthew and Mary (née Dunne) Riordan.[1] In 1848, at age seven, he moved with his parents to the United States, settling in Chicago, Illinois.[2] He was educated at St. Mary's of the Lake University in Chicago and afterwards at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, from where he graduated in 1858.[1] He was then sent to Rome as one of the original twelve students of the Pontifical North American College.[3] However, after suffering a severe case of malaria, he left Rome and completed his studies at the Colonial Seminary in Paris and the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.[2] He earned a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in 1864.[3]


While in Belgium, Riordan was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Engelbert Sterckx on June 10, 1865.[4] Upon his return to Chicago in 1866, he was named professor of ecclesiastical history and canon law at St. Mary's of the Lake.[2] He was transferred to the chair of dogmatic theology the following year.[2] From 1868 to 1871, he was engaged in missionary work in Joliet.[1] He became pastor of St. James Church in Chicago in 1871.[2]

On July 17, 1883, Riordan was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of San Francisco, California, and Titular Archbishop of Cabasa by Pope Leo XIII.[4] He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 16 from Archbishop Patrick Feehan, with Bishops William George McCloskey and Silas Chatard serving as co-consecrators.[4] Upon the resignation of Archbishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany on December 28, 1884, Riordan succeeded him as the second Archbishop of San Francisco.[4]

During his 30-year-long administration, he built St. Mary's Cathedral and established St. Patrick's Seminary.[3] Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, he visited the people living in temporary camps and celebrated an open-air Mass, assuring the people, "We shall rebuild."[5] In a dramatic public speech, he asserted the words of Saint Paul, (Acts 21:39) (Douay Rheims) "'I am a citizen of no mean city,' although it is in ashes. Almighty God has fixed this as the location of a great city. The past is gone, and there is no lamenting over it. Let us look to the future and without regard to creed or place of birth, work together in harmony for the upbuilding of a greater San Francisco."[5]


In December 1914, Riordan contracted a severe cold which soon developed into pneumonia.[6] He died five days later at 1000 Fulton Street, the Archbishop's Mansion, his residence in San Francisco, aged 73.[6] He is buried in the Archbishops' Crypt at Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma. Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco, California, is named for him.

Episcopal succession

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Joseph Sadoc Alemany, O.P.
Archbishop of San Francisco
Succeeded by
Edward Joseph Hanna


  1. 1 2 3 The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. XII. New York: James T. White & Company. 1904.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Shea, John Gilmary (1886). The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the United States. New York: Office of Catholic Publications.
  3. 1 2 3 "San Francisco". Catholic Encyclopedia.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Archbishop Patrick William Riordan".
  5. 1 2 "History of the Archdiocese of San Francisco". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco.
  6. 1 2 "ARCHBISHOP RIORDAN DEAD; Pneumonia Kills Catholic PrelateHead of San Francisco Diocese". The New York Times. 1927-12-28.
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