Christopher Edward Byrne, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Galveston, was born on April 21, 1867, in Byrnesville, Missouri, the son of Patrick and Rose (Byrne) Byrne. After attending the village school where his father taught, he earned an A.B. degree at the age of nineteen from St. Mary's College, Kansas. After completing his studies at St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, on September 23, 1891, he was ordained to the priesthood at St. John's Church in St. Louis. He spent about twenty-eight years in parish work in St. Louis, Columbia, and Edina, Missouri, and built churches and schools in each place. For many years he also did editorial work on the leading church publication in Missouri, Church Progress.
On November 27, 1918, he succeeded Bishop Nicholas A. Gallagher as fourth bishop of Galveston. During his tenure he ordained about 130 priests and received several hundred people into religious communities. In 1922 he sponsored a successful celebration of the diamond jubilee of the Galveston cathedral and diocese (see GALVESTON-HOUSTON, CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF). Through his encouragement the church took a lead in planning the 1936 Texas Centennial program, beginning with the Field Mass at San Jacinto Battleground. Byrne also endorsed and supported the collecting and preserving of documents relative to the church's history by the Knights of Columbus, an effort that ultimately resulted in the publication of the seven-volume Our Catholic Heritage in Texas, 1519–1936 by Carlos E. Castañeda, and the establishment of the Catholic Archives of Texas. During his administration the Catholic population of the Diocese of Galveston grew from 70,000 to 200,000. The number of schools increased from fifty-one in 1918 to more than 100 in 1950. Bishop Byrne was an avid reader and an eloquent orator and often spoke at religious and civic ceremonies. He died on April 1, 1950, and is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Galveston.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every penny helps.
Please make your contribution today.
Catholic Archives of Texas, Files, Austin. Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Sister M. Claude Lane, O.P.,
“Byrne, Christopher Edward,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 29, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
November 1, 1994