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Template:Infobox bishopbiog Benjamin Joseph Keiley (October 13, 1847—June 17, 1925) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Savannah from 1900 to 1922.


Benjamin Keiley was born in Petersburg, Virginia, to John D. and Margaret (née Crowley) Keiley, who were both natives of Cork County, Ireland.[1] His older brother, Anthony Michael Keiley, served as mayor of Richmond (1871–1876) and, after his unsuccessful nominations by President Grover Cleveland as U.S. Envoy to Italy and Austria, served as chief justice of the International Court of Appeals in Cairo, Egypt.[2] Receiving his early education in Petersburg, Benjamin entered the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in 1864.[3]

He attended St. Charles College in Ellicott City, Maryland before furthering his studies in Rome at the Pontifical North American College in 1869.[3] Upon his return to Virginia, Keiley was ordained to the priesthood on December 31, 1873.[4] He then served as pastor of St. Peter's Church in New Castle, Delaware until 1880, when he became rector of the pro-cathedral at Wilmington.[3] When Bishop Thomas A. Becker was transferred to the Diocese of Savannah in 1886, Keiley accompanied him to Georgia and there served as vicar general and pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Atlanta until 1896.[1] He was rector of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist from 1896 to 1900.[3]

On April 2, 1900, Keiley was appointed by Pope Leo XIII to succeed the late Becker as the seventh Bishop of Savannah.[4] He received his episcopal consecration on the following June 3 from Cardinal James Gibbons, with Bishops Henry Pinckney Northrop and John J. Monaghan serving as co-consecrators, at St. Peter's Cathedral in Richmond.[4] During his tenure, he completely restored the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, which had been destroyed by fire in 1898; he dedicated the new edifice in October 1900.[5] Keiley publicly criticized President Theodore Roosevelt for inviting Booker T. Washington to the White House, and once stated, "In America no black man should be ordained. Just as illegitimate sons are declared irregular by canon blacks can be declared irregular because they are held in such contempt by whites."[6] After twenty-one years as Bishop, he resigned due to ill health on March 18, 1922; he was appointed Titular Bishop of Scilium on the same date.[4]

Keiley later died in Atlanta, aged 77. At his funeral Mass, his bier was draped with a Confederate flag with a laurel wreath sent by the United Daughters of the Confederacy at the foot.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Candler, Allen D.; Clement A. Evans (1906). Georgia. State Historical Association. 
  2. Tyler, Lyon Gardiner (1915). "Keily, Anthony M.". Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. III. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Savannah". Catholic Encyclopedia. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Bishop Benjamin Joseph Keiley". 
  5. "Diocese of Savannah". The Catholic Church in the United States of America. New York: The Catholic Editing Company. 1914. 
  6. Unsworth, Tim (1997). "Racism and Religion: Partners in Crime?". Claretian Publications. 
  7. Bailey, James M. The Family and Background of Anthony Keiley. 

Template:Start box |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Thomas Albert Andrew Becker |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Bishop of Savannah
1900–1922 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Michael Joseph Keyes |- |}