Charles Chapman Grafton

Blessed Charles Chapman Grafton

Second Bishop of Fond du Lac


Feast Day | Biography | "Circus" Photo | Links | Pictures

Commemoration and Feast Day

The Commemoration of Blessed Charles Chapman Grafton is an observed Feast of the Diocese of Fond du Lac, in the Christian tradition of honoring the anniversary of his earthly death and heavenly birth (August 30). It is celebrated on the Saturday closest to the Feast Day, not on Labor Day weekend. It is an included Feast Day in "Holy Men, Holy Women."

The 2016 Commemoration is part of the Eucharistic Festival on Saturday, August 27th at the Cathedral of St. Paul, Fond du Lac. The Grafton Lecture is from 1:00–2:00 p.m in St. Augustine’s Chapel. Matthew P. Payne will present “A Brief History of An Episcopal-Orthodox Affair: a Russian and a Bostonian” with response from our Festival Homilist, Fr. Matthew Olver.

10:30 Holy Eucharist followed by Benediction and Adoration
12:00 Bishop's Picnic
1:00 Grafton Lecture

Past Commemorations
2015 The Certain Trumpet: Charles Chapman Grafton as Preacher
The Very Rev. Steven A. Peay, Dean and President of Nashotah House Theological Seminary
Click to download...Grafton as Preacher
2014 Bishop Grafton: Evangelical at heart, while in belief a Catholic
The Rt. Rev. Rev. Matthew Gunter, 8th Bishop of Fond du Lac.
Homily by the Very Rev. Brian Beno, Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral.
Click to download...
2013 Bishop Grafton and the Identity of the Episcopal Church in the 21st Century
The Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin, 11th Bishop of Western New York.
Homily by the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr., Dean of Nashotah House.
Click to download... 
2012 Grafton and the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament
Mr. Richard J. Mammana, Jr., Founder and Director of Project Canterbury.
2011 Grafton and the Religious Life
The Rev. John D. Alexander, Rector, Ss. Stephen's, Providence, RI.
Click to download...
2010 Homily by the Rt. Rev. Russell E. Jacobus, Seventh Bishop of Fond du Lac  

Blessed Charles Chapman Grafton ~ 1830-1912
The Rev. John-Julian, OJN

Click to download...
2008 Barnum, Bailey and Grafton
Mrs. Ruth Spoeri, Archivist, Cathedral of St. Paul, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
2007 At the Sisterhood of the Holy Nativity, Bethlehem-by-the-Lake, Green Lake, Wisconsin.
Homily by the Rev. Daniel Repp, Vicar, St. Paul's, Plymouth.
2006 Homily by the Rt. Rev. Russell E. Jacobus, Seventh Bishop of Fond du Lac  
2005 A Homily On the Commemoration of Blessed Charles C. Grafton
The Rev. Dean A. Einerson, Rector, St. Augustine's, Rhinelander.
Click to download...
2004 Homily by the Rt. Rev. Russell E. Jacobus, Seventh Bishop of Fond du Lac.  

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Click for larger imageThe Rt. Rev. Charles Chapman Grafton (April 12, 1830-August 30, 1912) was Second Bishop of Fond du Lac, the Episcopal Church encompassing the northeast part of Wisconsin. He was an ardent supporter of the Oxford Movement and developing Anglo-Catholicism in the Episcopal Church, especially with the voluminous writings following the consecration of a Coadjutor in 1900.

Born in Boston, he came under the influence of William Croswell, founder of Church of the Advent, a leading Anglo-Catholic parish. In 1853 he graduated from Harvard with a degree in law but found himself drawn toward the ordained ministry. Grafton studied theology under Bishop William Whittingham of Maryland and was ordained deacon on Dec. 23, 1855. He began ordained ministry as assistant at Reisterstown, Maryland and on May 30, 1858, was ordained priest and served as curate at St. Paul's, Baltimore, as well as chaplain of the deaconesses of the Diocese of Maryland.

At the close of the Civil War Grafton went to England and with Richard Meux Benson and Simeon Wilberforce O'Neill, co-founded the Society of St. John the Evangelist (known as the Cowley Fathers). Grafton returned to the United States and in 1872 became fourth Rector of Church of the Advent. A jurisdictional dispute concerning Grafton's overseas religious superior led to his withdrawal from SSJE.

Grafton helped to establish the American Congregation of Saint Benedict (now The Benedictine Order of St John the Beloved) and in 1888 along with Mother Ruth Margaret founded the Sisterhood of the Holy Nativity. Grafton was consecrated Bishop of Fond du Lac on April 25, 1889. During his tenure the strength of the diocese in terms of spirituality, membership and buildings grew tremendously. He served as diocesan until his death, leaving behind a legacy of printed works, sermons and essays.

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The Consecration of the Rt. Rev. R. H. Weller as the Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Fond du Lac, 1900.

Consecration of the
Rt. Rev. R. H. Weller as the Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Fond du Lac, 1900

Seated (l to r):

  • The Rt. Rev. Isaac Lea Nicholson, Episcopal Bishop of Milwaukee
  • The Rt. Rev. Charles Chapman Grafton, Episcopal Bishop of Fond du Lac
  • The Rt. Rev. Charles P. Anderson, Episcopal Coadjutor of Chicago

Standing (l to r):

  • The Rt. Rev. Anthony Kozlowski of the Polish National Catholic Church
  • The Rt. Rev. G. M. Williams, Episcopal Bishop of Marquette (now Northern Michigan)
  • The Rt. Rev. Reginald Weller, Episcopal Coadjutor of Fond du Lac
  • The Rt. Rev. Joseph M. Francis, Episcopal Bishop of Indianapolis
  • The Rt. Rev. William E. McLaren, Episcopal Bishop of Chicago
  • The Rt. Rev. Arthur L. Williams, Episcopal Bishop Coadjutor of Nebraska
  • St. John (Kochurov) of Chicago, protomartyr of the Bolshevik Revolution
  • Fr. Sebastian Dabovich, chaplains to the Russian Bishop
  • St. Tikhon, then Orthodox Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.

The Famous "Fond du Lac Circus" Photo

Grafton found himself at the center of controversy in 1900 when he presided at the consecration of Reginald Heber Weller as Bishop Coadjutor of Fond du Lac. A number of bishops from neighboring dioceses took part in the service. Also in attendance, at Grafton's invitation, was Tikhon, Russian Orthodox Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.

Following the service the bishops went to the back steps of Grafton Hall, a girl's borading school behind St. Paul's Cathedral, and posed for a picture. This is believed to be the first time bishops of the Episcopal Church were photographed wearing copes and mitres. The picture became to be known as "the Fond du Lac Circus" and was widely published in church publications as well as secular publication and caused a heated controversy.

A number of issues are associated with this photo. First, the Episcopal Church in its first century had been mostly low church, though high church and broad church groups were also present. The low church faction typically identified itself as Protestant, contrasted with the high church faction which typically identified itself with a Catholic, connected with others such as the Roman Catholic (though there was some belief it had lost its way), Old Catholic and Orthodox Churches. This photo, showing Episcopal bishops dressed in catholic vestments (as opposed to a more Protestant rochet, chimere, and tippet) was an outrage to many low church members of the Episcopal Church.

Added to this was that the service included other denominational leaders. Grafton invited Bishop Tikhon and his Orthodox entourage along with Bishop Kozlowski of the Polish National Catholic Church to attend, not merely to observe, but to participate. Ultimately, they did not join in the laying on of hands, but did vest and sit with the other bishops present. This was also scandalous to many low church members of the Episcopal Church who held that Episcopalians had more in common with the other Protestant denominations than with the Old Catholics or "Greek Catholics" (i.e., Orthodox).

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Click for larger image

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