Father Duffy Statue

Father Duffy statue, New York City, public art, Charles Keck

Public Art: Father Duffy Statue

Sculptor: © Charles Keck (1875-1951)

Description: An 8ft bronze statue of Father Francis Patrick Duffy (1871-1932), who was a military chaplain and priest in the Times Square area after serving as First Lieutenant and chaplain of the legendary Fighting 69th Infantry in Europe during World War I. Keck combined military and religious symbols to depict Father Duffy as the soldier/priest. Dressed in military uniform with helmet at his feet and clutching his bible with both hands, he stands on a 17ft pedestal with a green granite Celtic cross behind him.

Date Unveiled: May 2nd, 1937

Location: The statue of Father Duffy can be found at the north end of Times Square in Duffy Square, between 45th and 47th Streets in Manhattan, New York City.

Plaque Inscription:

FATHER DUFFY STATUE
Duffy Square

The statue of father Francis Patrick Duffy, the legendary chaplain of New York's fighting 69th infantry regiment, has stood guard at Times Square since May 2, 1937. Sculpted by Charles Keck (1875-1951), it pays permanent tribute to the most decorated chaplain in U.S. army history.

Father Duffy (1871-1932) first came to New York from his home town of Cobourg, Ontario in 1893. Ordained in 1896, he received his doctorate from the Catholic University of America, and went on to become a pioneering educator and beloved mentor to his students at St Joseph's seminary in Yonkers, as well as an editor of the New York Review. In 1912 he was assigned to create the church of Our Savior Parish in the Bronx and two years later was appointed chaplain of the New York's famed "Fighting 69th" National Guard Regiment.

During World War I , Father Duffy earned national fame as chaplain of the 42nd or "Rainbow Division". Time and again he braved the thick of battle to rescue the wounded, give last rites to the dying, help bury the dead and comfort the living. His selfless courage garnered numerous decorations , most notably the U.S. Army's distinguished Service Cross and France's Croix De Guerre and Legion D' Honneur. Following the war Father Duffy shepherded New York City's Parish of the Holy Cross, known here in the heart of Manhattan as "The Actors' Church". He served the theater district until his passing in 1932.

This bronze statue depicts Duffy with bible in hand, grey-coat flying, watching over Times Square. the statue stands nearly eight feet tall, backed by a green granite Celtic cross over 17 feet high. The City of New York and the Times Square Alliance conserved this statue in 2008.

Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor, City of New York
Adrian Benepe, Commissioner, Department of Parks & Recreation


Trivia: Father Duffy is the most highly decorated cleric in the history of the U.S. Army having been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal, the Conspicuous Service Cross (New York State), the Légion d'honneur (France), and the Croix de guerre.

Actor Pat  O'Brien portrayed Father Duffy in the 1940 film, The Fighting 69th, which was based on his life.

In 1997 the statue was conserved and repatined through a project funded by the Times Square Business Improvement District


 

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