The Cradle of Catholicity in Ohio
Somerset, Ohio 43783
In April 1830 four Dominican sisters from St. Catherine’s, Kentucky, founded St. Mary’s Academy, the first Catholic school in Perry County. Bishop Edward Fenwick, first Bishop of Ohio, donated a small brick house and attached building situated on an acre of land for the school’s use. Classes began with forty students. The following year the sisters built a three-story structure with a dormitory for boarders; by the end of the Civil War, enrollment had increased to 134 students, and St. Mary’s gained recognition as one of the finest schools in Ohio. An 1866 fire destroyed the academy, and in 1885 the Dominican sisters reestablished the academy as a parish school. The present Holy Trinity School building dates to 1968.
On October 1827, one of Ohio’s earliest Catholic churches was consecrated on the highest point in Somerset, a site that became known as Piety Hill. Named Holy Trinity, this small brick church served Somerset parishioners for twenty-five years under Rev. Nicholas Dominic Young, O.P., as pastor. In 1857 a new Gothic-style church building was constructed around the old church, which remained until the new church was consecrated. This church is still used by Holy Trinity parishioners. With St. Joseph and Holy Trinity churches as their bases, Dominican priests founded numerous Catholic parishes and churches throughout Ohio. For this reason this part of Perry County is known as the “Cradle of Catholicity in Ohio.”
Ohio Bicentennial Commission
Holy Trinity School
The Ohio Historical Society