John Ambrose Watterson

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Right Reverend

John Ambrose Watterson
Bishop of Columbus
Bishop John Ambrose Watterson.jpg
Church Roman Catholic Church
See Columbus
In office August 8, 1880—April 17, 1899
Predecessor Sylvester Horton Rosecrans
Successor Henry K. Moeller
Ordination August 9, 1868
Consecration August 8, 1880
Personal details
Born (1844-05-27)May 27, 1844
Blairsville, Pennsylvania
Died April 17, 1899(1899-04-17) (aged 54)
Columbus, Ohio

John Ambrose Watterson (May 27, 1844 – April 17, 1899) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Columbus from 1880 until his death in 1899.


The sixth of eleven children,[1] John Watterson was born in Blairsville, Pennsylvania, to John Sylvester and Sarah Salome (née McAfee) Watterson.[2] His father's family came to the United States from the Isle of Mann in 1762; originally Episcopalians, his grandfather was orphaned in 1781 and subsequently raised by a Catholic family in York County, Pennsylvania.[1] His mother's family was from County Armagh, Ireland, and settled in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.[2] John's parents frequently offered their home as a place of rest to traveling missionaries, and their house even became known as "The Priest's Hotel."[2]

After attending the parochial school of Sts. Simon and Jude Church in Blairsville, Watterson was sent to St. Vincent's College in Latrobe at a young age.[1] In 1861 he entered Mount St. Mary's Seminary at Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high honors.[2] He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Michael Domenec, C.M., on August 9, 1868, at St. Vincent's Abbey.[3] Watterson then served as professor of moral theology and Scripture at Mount St. Mary's, where he became vice president in 1877 and later president in 1879.[1] He earned a Doctor of Divinity degree from Georgetown College at Washington, D.C. in June 1879.[2]

On March 14, 1880, Watterson was appointed the second Bishop of Columbus by Pope Leo XIII.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on the following August 8 from Archbishop William Henry Elder, with Bishops William George McCloskey and John Tuigg serving as co-consecrators.[3] During his 19-year-long tenure, Watterson increased the number of priests and schools in the diocese, founded two hospitals and the Pontifical College Josephinum, and erected many new missions and parishes.[1] A strong proponent of temperance, he prohibited saloon owners from holding office in any Catholic organization in the diocese, and made all the children to whom he administered Confirmation promise not to drink until they were 21.[1] He was the first Catholic bishop ever to speak at Ohio State University.[4]

Watterson died unexpectedly at age 54.[3] He is buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Columbus.[1] Bishop Watterson High School is named in his honor.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "The Right Reverend John Ambrose Watterson, D.D., Bishop 1880-1899". Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus.
  2. ^ a b c d e O'Hare, Teresa Beatrice (June 1899). "RT. REV. JOHN A. WATTERSON, D.D.". The Rosary Magazine, Vol. XIV.
  3. ^ a b c d "Bishop John Ambrose Watterson".
  4. ^ "Bishop John A. Watterson". Bishop Watterson High School.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Sylvester Horton Rosecrans
Bishop of Columbus
Succeeded by
Henry K. Moeller
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