U.S. Counties Named After Catholics

Not only hundreds of cities, towns, and rivers, but many counties throughout the United States bear a Catholic origin, either on account of being named after a saint, our Lady, or some mystery of the Faith. These following, however, stand out particularly for obvious reasons. Las Animas county in Colorado is the only county named after the holy souls in Purgatory; Ravalli County in Montana is named after a very talented Jesuit missioner, Antonio Ravalli (1811-1884) who, in addition to his evangelical work among the native Americans and mastering several of their languages, also became a skilled physician, architect, and sculptor. Two counties, one in Michigan and another in Wisconsin, are named in honor of the great missionary and explorer, Jacques Marquette, S.J.; De Père, Wisconsin, built on the mission site, Rapides des Pères (rapids of the priests) took on the singular name, place “of the priest,” in honor of Père Marquette who died there. Interesting, too, is that, long after England apostatized, three counties in Protestant New York were named after Catholic monarchs: Albany is named after the last Catholic King of England, the convert, James II (1633-1701), who was also the Duke of York and of Albany in Scotland; Dutchess County is named after his wife, Mary, Duchess of Modena (1658-1718), who gave him the final nudge to enter the Church after he had long considered doing so; and Queens County is named after England’s next to last Catholic Queen, Catherine of Braganza (1650-1702), who was married to Charles II (he converted on his deathbed). When the Protestants William and Mary came over from Holland to rule England, Catherine became exasperated with their anti-catholic policies and she retired in 1692 to spend the rest of her life in her native Portugal.