The Right Reverend Benjamin J. Keiley, D.D.

Seventh Bishop of Savannah, 1900-1922

Father Benjamin J. Keiley came to Savannah in 1886 with Bishop Thomas A. Becker. As rector, Father Keiley celebrated the first Mass in the rebuilt Cathedral on December 24, 1899. He was appointed seventh Bishop of Savannah and was consecrated on June 3, 1900. The rebuilt Cathedral was dedicated on October 28, 1900. Bishop Keiley achieved a long-desired wish when he presided over the solemn consecration of the Cathedral in 1920. Concerned about the welfare of African-American Catholics in the Diocese of Savannah, Bishop Keiley entrusted their spiritual care to the Society of African Missions. Bishop Keiley resigned on account of health on February 13, 1922. On March 24, 1922, Pope Pius XI appointed him Titular Bishop of Scillium. Bishop Keiley died on June 17, 1925.

Motto: Dominus Meus et Deus Meus [“My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)]

Blazon: Gules, a Latin cross throughout argent, in dexter chief an heraldic wreath of the second and first ensigned by a rose of the second, in sinister chief two daises stemmed and leaved of the second, over-all in base an anchor entwined with a dolphin also of the second.

Significance: On the arms of the Bishop the Latin cross represents the Catholic Faith, on which two symbolic figures of Our Lord have been placed. The anchor is one of the oldest of all symbols of Our Lord. It originates in the days of the Catacombs. The imagery is borrowed from Hebrews 6:19, “Which hope we can have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” The dolphin, according to St. Gregory of Nyssa, is the most kingly of swimming things. It was used on some of the oldest tombs as a symbol of Our Lord. The dolphin was said to bear the souls of the righteous across the sea to the land of the blessed.

The daisy is the symbol of St. Margaret of Antioch, virgin and martyr of the 17th century, the patron saint of the Bishop’s mother. The rose is from the arms of the Keiley family of Ireland.

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