Saturday, October 10, 2020




He died of leukemia on October 12, 2006. 
His tomb was opened for public veneration October 1, 2020 for his October 10, 2020 beatification in Assisi, Italy.

A younger, Carlo, and his dog. 

Carlo's mother, Antonia, with some of her favorite photos of her son. 

At her son's recently opened tomb. 

 Blessed Carlo's father and mother

Thursday, October 8, 2020




Below is a short history of my family coming to Kentucky in the late eighteenth century. I am part of the Knott, Mills and Mattingly families who came as part of the early migration of Catholic settlers from Maryland to Kentucky. Many other Kentucky Catholic families can trace their histories from the migrations from Germany and Ireland in the mid nineteenth century.  

Besides having their DNA in my blood, the pastors who preceded me in Calvary and Louisville were among the first missionaries to Kentucky. In fact, the first priest to be ordained in the United States, Father Stephen Theodore Badin,  was my predecessor in Louisville. He established the first parish, Saint Louis Church, which morphed into the present day Cathedral of the Assumption parish. 

I was pastor of Bishop Martin John Spalding's home parish in Calvary, Kentucky. He was the fourth Bishop of Louisville. I lived in the rectory at the Cathedral of the Assumption on the spot where the former rectory stood that Bishop Flaget lived and died in and the one Bishop Spalding lived in before becoming the Archbishop of Baltimore.  

I have owned land with deeds all the way back to Revolutionary War land grants when Kentucky was part of Virginia. 

My home parish of Saint Theresa, founded in 1818 by Maryland Catholics, had two log cabin churches (like the picture above) before the present brick structure which was started in 1855.


The Kentucky Migration

The first serious explorations of the Kentucky territory by English colonists had begun around 1750, and it was found that the area was not generally inhabited by Indians, but was used primarily as a hunting ground by Indian tribes living along the tributaries north of the Ohio River and by the southern Cherokee tribes.

Negotiations with the Indians for white settlement of the area followed close upon the early explorations, resulting in the 1768 treaty concluded at Fort Stanwix, NY, with the Mohawk Six Nations, who claimed rights to the territory by virtue of their conquest of the Shawnees. The Indian participants at the negotiations agreed to white settlement of the land south of the Ohio for the consideration of 10,000 pounds sterling. In 1774 an incursion into Virginia by the Shawnee and Miami tribes led to their defeat, after which they also relinquished their rights to the Kentucky territory.

A group of negotiators from the Transylvania Company which included Daniel Boone obtained agreement from the Cherokees along the Tennessee River in 1775 to allow white settlement of the area. By 1780 a number of stations had been established by James Harrod, Daniel Boone and others to facilitate the migration into the territory from the eastern states.

In spite of the treaties, Indians raids on the settlements were common during the first two decades of the movement into Kentucky. These were first encouraged by the French and, during and after the Revolutionary War, by the British from their strongholds in the north. Indian depredations greatly slowed the rate of settlement of the territory until the middle 1780's.


Migration from St. Mary's Maryland


The Revolutionary War brought great hardships and even greater changes to St. Mary's County. British warships roamed the Chesapeake and tributary rivers at will, impounding supplies and in many instances looting and sometimes destroying homes, churches and warehouses. A large percentage of the eligible men fought in the war, either marching with the Continental Army or guarding the home front in local militias. The regular army regiments from St. Mary's County fought engagements from New York to South Carolina and were present at the British surrender at Yorktown. The pursuit and successful conclusion of the war brought both detrimental and beneficial effects to St. Mary's Countians.

On the one hand, the great demand on supplies, manpower and money created by the war, combined with the curtailment of trade with Britain, led to a profound decline in the economy in the years immediately following the war. Counterbalancing this was the fact  that the vast expanse of land west of the Appalachians which was gained by Britain's victory in the French and Indian war but closed to settlement by the colonial government now became available to citizens brave enough to relocate there. Some of the land was given out in grants to Revolutionary War veterans in payment for their services, and more was available for purchase at low cost. These circumstances resulted in a massive movement of people to the western lands, particularly Kentucky, in the decades following the war. Kentucky was populated largely by settlers from Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

As an example of the extent of the post-war migration, the population of St. Mary's County decreased from 15,444 to 12,794 between the years 1790 and 1810. Many of these followed earlier St. Mary's County pioneers to Kentucky, especially to Nelson and Washington (then including Marion) counties.

For Marylanders, the usual route to Nelson County started overland to Pittsburgh, then down the Ohio river to Maysville, followed by another overland journey to one of the forts, called "stations", near the area of settlement. Alternate routes5 were down the Ohio to the Kentucky, inland along the Kentucky, then over the hills into the Salt River basin; down the Ohio to the Falls of the Ohio, then in to Bullitt's Lick over buffalo trails; and down the Ohio to the Salt River, then upstream into Simpson Creek.

Indian attacks were still common, and dependents were usually left at the nearest station until the settlement area was secured and the land cleared for farming. Militias companies were formed for defense of the settlement. Indian incursions into Nelson County continued as late as 1792, when a band of Indians marauding along the Rolling Fork fought with a group of settlers, resulting in four Indian and three settler casualties. These raids ended in 1793, and the final defeat and pacification of the Midwestern tribes came in 1795 with the treaty of Greensville.

When the earliest settlers arrived, Kentucky was still a territory of Virginia, and Nelson County, formed in 1785, included the present Washington, Marion, and nine other counties, plus parts of  eleven others. Washington County (including Marion) separated in 1792, and Marion county was formed in 1834.

The first large Catholic migration into Nelson County was begun in 1785 by the League of Catholic Families, most of whom were from St. Mary's County, Maryland. They followed the Maysville route down to Goodwin's Station (near the present Boston), and from there moved into the Pottinger's Creek area of Nelson County, near the present location of Gethsemani Monastery. A list of heads of families, compiled by one of the settlers, was published in 1884 by B. J. Webb and has been reproduced in various publications since then. The last name on the list is Francis Peake. Many surnames familiar to Central Kentuckians, especially Catholics, are on the list, including Mudd, Mattingly, Cissell (Cecil), Nally, Hagan, French, Edelen, Norris, Spalding and others.

Other areas heavily settled by St. Mary's Countians include Hardin Creek (10 Miles east of Pottinger Creek), Cartwright's Creek, Scott County, Rolling Fork, Cox's Creek, and Breckinridge County. Most of the settlers, but not all, were Catholic. The Marylanders brought with them the traditional skills of their region, including tobacco farming, distilling, and preparation of Southern Maryland stuffed ham.

The first Catholic church, a log building, was built at the foot of Rohan Knob (now Holy Cross) in 1792. Since Catholic education had been banned in colonial Maryland, most of the priests sent to Kentucky had been brought from Europe, particularly from France. The diocese of Bardstown was created in 1808 with Father Benedict Flaget named as the first Bishop. Father J. B. M. David was appointed as the second Bishop in 1832, and Bishop Flaget was reappointed in 1833. With the coming of the priests and the establishment of orders of nuns, Catholic education became available, beginning with St. Thomas Seminary in 1811. However, relatively few of the early settlers received an education, and many were illiterate.


From England to Maryland to Kentucky

NATHANIEL JAMES KNOTT (Elinora Collins) 1550-1620) (England)
BERNARD KNOTT (1570-1603) (Alice Longe) England)
JAMES KNOTT 1594-1653) (Eleanor Butler) (England to Virginia)
FRANCIS KNOTT (1620-1651) Rebecca Gill (1629-1663)
FRANCIS KNOTT Jr. (1649-1705) Eleanor Cole (1650-1705)
IGNATIUS KNOTT (1686-1765) Elizabeth Skeen (1720-
RICHARD BASIL KNOTT (1745-1817) Mary Drury (1750-1780)
CLEMENT KNOTT ((1784-1870) born in Maryland, moved to Marion County, Kentucky, died in Breckenridge County, Kentucky Ann Nancy Hardesty (1800-1860)
RAPHAEL KNOTT (1832-1914) born in Marion County, Kentucky, died in Breckinridge County. Abigail Basham (1826-1915) 
FRANCIS MARION KNOTT (1865-1950) born in Breckinridge County, died in Louisville, buried in Meade County, Kentucky Ida Hardesty (1866-1953)
LEO FRANCIS KNOTT (1892-1973) born in Meade County Lillian Deliah Mills (1890-1971)
JAMES WILLIAM KNOTT (1918-1991) born Meade County M. Ethel Mattingly (1917-1976)
WILLIAM GARY KNOTT (1945- ) Linda Pollock (1945- )

Tuesday, October 6, 2020


This is the thirty-fifth in a series of periodic reflections on the "ordinary things" that many people do on a regular basis without much thought. During this pandemic, I am developing a need to "rage, rage" against haste and laziness and replace it with care and attention. My hope is to become personally more intentional about doing ordinary things with care and focused attention, while inspiring others to maybe do the same.


"Metenoiete! Change the way you think about things! 


I can't emphasize enough how important the two quotes above have been in my life. 

I was raised to believe that life is something that happens to you and all you can do is accept it. In other words, I was taught to be a victim of the things that were happening around me.

Later, I came to believe that working for structural changes would result in making me happy. In other words, if I could get enough other people to change, I would end up happy. 

One event in particular caused me to understand the real secret of life and that is to change myself from the inside out. A changed mind was the secret to happiness. 

All through seminary, I was told that if you "messed up" they would send you to Somerset. Somerset was as far from Louisville you could get in the diocese in those days. 

By the time I was ordained, I had my heart set on an urban assignment or maybe a small city assignment. When the priest personnel board called to give me my assignment, I was told that I was being sent to Somerset! I was distraught!

Instead of accepting it as inevitable, something that just happened to me, I fought with the personnel board to change its mind. When I failed, I presumed that I was doomed to ten years of unhappiness. 

Half way down there, I had a conversion experience. I decided to change my mind. I decided to take back my power and decided that I was going to like it. I decided that it was going to be the best assignment ever! Since I did not get what I wanted, I decided to want what I got. I chose my reaction rather than allowing my reaction make me a victim. 

It worked! It turned out to be a great assignment. It opened many doors that led me to places and opportunities I had never imagined for myself.  Changing my own mind saved my life! It had to be a moment of pure grace! Grace, of course, is God's gratuitous help, but it requires that we respond positively to that invitation to trust that God has a wonderful gift for you, life to the full! That lesson, changing my mind to change my experience,  I have been able to apply many times in the last fifty years of priestly ministry. It has given me power so many times when I didn't think I had any. 

We need not be total victims of this pandemic. We can choose how we want to respond to it. We can see only disasters or we can change our minds and see the opportunities even in this situation. This can be a time laced with fear, anger and foolish behavior or it can be a time laced with faith, trust and heroism. We can choose how we want this time to be for us! Yes, we have the freedom to choose our response to this pandemic and thereby choose our experience of it! 


Sunday, October 4, 2020


Have no anxiety at all. 

Let the peace that God gives guard your hearts and minds.

Philippians 4

Saint Paul must be kidding! No anxiety at all? With an international pandemic, street demonstrations, toxic political unrest, rampant unemployment, a worrisome national debt, election intrusions, cancer and the funerals of fellow citizens, relatives and friends, how can Saint Paul’s words possibly fit those of us living in today’s Church and world? How can we possibly remain anxiety-free in the middle of all these situations? 

“Anxiety” is a state of intense, often disabling apprehension, uncertainty, and fear caused by the anticipation of something threatening. It is often not so much about what is happening or even what has happened, but about what might happen next.

Have no anxiety at all. Let the peace that God gives, guard your hearts and mind.

My dear mother comes to mind when I think of anxiety. It seems that she always had a thin stream of anxiety trickling through her veins. Even though she has been dead for forty-five years now, I can still see her in my mind’s eye picking at her lower lip, a nervous habit that always accompanied intense moments of anxiety. I can still remember one time when we laughed at her for being so anxious. She snapped back, “Well, somebody around here needs to worry!” Looking back, she had a lot to be anxious about: seven kids, a demanding husband and breast cancer, to name a few! 

When I was about to be ordained, anxiety was very much on my mind. The church was undergoing a great upheaval and priests were beginning to leave in significant numbers, Martin Luther King Jr and Bobby Kennedy had been killed a couple of years earlier, the Vietnam War was raging along with street riots. I asked myself many times, in that year leading up to ordination, “How am I going to keep my cool in a fast-changing church and in a world coming unglued? How will I be able to stay focused when one problem after another is going to be hurled into my face from both inside and outside the church? How will I be able to calm others when I seem to be torn up all the time myself?”

I have spent my life as a priest searching for an inmost calm that no storm can shake. When I discovered and admitted to myself that I cannot control what happens “out there,” I knew I had to find a way to control my reaction to what happens “out there.” As one spiritual teacher said, “It is easier to put on slippers than it is to carpet the world.” I knew I was going to need, and certainly wanted to have, the peace that only a close relationship with Jesus could give me, that peace that Saint Paul invites us to embrace in our second reading today.

Have no anxiety at all. Let the peace that God gives, guard your hearts and minds.

I spent most of my young adult life looking for an inmost calm that no storm could shake, an inner peace that would remain rock solid no matter what! I am happy to say that I have found it, but now I have to work to keep it. Sometimes I panic and forget, but I always come back to it sooner or later. Once I discovered that a peaceful center is always available to me, even in the midst of storms, I know I can always come back to it.

How can one have that peace? It comes from a close relationship with Jesus. If you truly believe that you are loved without condition, that God is on your side and holds no grudges, that in the end things are going to turn out OK because God has promised us so, then a great peace will come over you. With that knowledge, you will know that no matter how bad things get sometimes, no matter how much you have to handle, no matter how great your losses, you will know in your heart of hearts that you are in good hands because you are in God’s hands. When you know these things to be true, a great peace begins to stand guard over your heart and mind! That is what St. Paul is talking about today when he tells us to “let the peace that God gives stand guard over your hearts and minds.”

Once I begin to live in the knowledge that, in spite of it all, things will ultimately be OK, I begin to realize that many of my life’s greatest blessings have come out of what long ago seemed like an unbearable disaster.  Looking back at the times in my life when God seemed absent, at the times when I was overwhelmed with anxiety, worry and panic, in hindsight I can see that the hand of God was actually bringing me to where I needed to go and teaching me what I needed to learn. Most of the things I have most worried about never happened! Most of my imagined tragedies have actually contained great blessings! For me, it has happened too many times to dismiss as a fluke. 

Peace, however, is not a time when there are no problems. Peace is a calm state of mind in the midst of problems and in spite of problems. Peace is a trusting state of mind that comes from a close relationship with Jesus whose name is Emmanuel, meaning “God is with us. 

My fellow believers, we cannot control most of what is going to happen, so let us finish each day and be done with it. Let us do our best and let go of it. Let us not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen.  Our fretting anxiety has no power to affect tomorrow, but it can certainly ruin today.  Let us thank God for how far we have come and trust God with how far we can go.  This peace of mind is Jesus’ last gift to us. No matter what we are going through, let us lean on His everlasting arm, accepting his gift of peace and learning to live out of it. “Anxiety is the rust of life, destroying its brightness and weakening its power. A childlike and abiding trust in Providence is its best preventive and remedy.” (Tyron Edwards) As soon as true trust in God begins, our anxiety begins to fade. We will never be problem free, but we can be free of anxiety and needless worry! 

On this Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, it is appropriate to end with his famous prayer!


Peace Prayer of Saint Francis


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.