Humanities & Cultural
Archbishop John F. Noll
Perhaps the best-known Catholic communicator of his time, the works of Archbishop John Francis Noll and his Our Sunday Visitor publication reached nearly every Catholic household in the country. He was also a leader among United States bishops and a benefactor who helped transform the face of Catholic America.
Noll was ordained a priest in 1898 and became Father of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Huntington. In 1912, he founded the weekly diocesan newspaper, Our Sunday Visitor, in Huntington. It was transformed into a national publication and became the most popular Catholic newsweekly in the country, eventually reaching a circulation of over 1 million. Profits from OSV publications went to religious, educational and charitable causes.
The title of monsignor was conferred on him in 1921, and he was elevated to bishop of Fort Wayne in 1925.
Noll was nationally known as an outspoken advocate of the Catholic Church against anti-Catholic efforts, and he used his publications to give voice to the Catholic population of the United States. He was an innovator who took the Catholic voice to new mediums, launching the Catholic News Service and the “Catholic Hour” on NBC radio.
Our Sunday Visitor remains one of the largest printers of Catholic publications in the world. Noll was instrumental in bringing Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters to Huntington, and building their motherhouse, Victory Noll, in 1925, the same year he was elevated to bishop. He was a leader in generating support for construction of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. During the Great Depression, Noll reorganized the system of Catholic charities to assist affected children and families.
He built several schools, along with a seminary and an orphanage, and wrote the book “Father Smith Instructs Jackson,” which sold millions of copies and remains in print today. He was elevated to archbishop in 1953 by Pope Pius XII. He died July 31, 1956 and is buried in the Victory Noll Cemetery.