Mrs Genevieve Brady

Birth: 1879
Death: Nov. 24, 1938Dutchess Brady at St Patrick's Rome

A native of Hartford, Connecticut, Genevieve Brady was the sister of Francis Patrick Garvan (1875 – 1937), a famous American lawyer and long-time president of the Chemical Foundation, and wife of New York City businessman and philanthropist, Nicholas Frederic Brady (1878 – 1930). The couple were married on August 20, 1906, and had no children.A devout Roman Catholic, she was a Dame of the Holy Sepulchre,

Bradly2 (1)

holder of the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice “Cross of Honour”.


 founder of the Carroll Club, 1933 recipient of the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal

Catholics “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”[1] First awarded in 1883, it is the oldest and most prestigious award for American Catholicsl

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as the most notable lay Catholic in America, Board Chairman of the Girls Scouts of America and a Vice-President of the Welfare Council of New York. In 1926, her husband was enobled by Pius XI and created a Papal Duke. Genevieve was created a Papal Duchess in her own right.

The Papal Duke and Duchess lived at 910 Fifth Avenue in New York City but also built a large Tudor Elizabethan mansion, Inisfada, on an estate on the North Shore of Long Island, New York that was completed by 1920, and known as “Inisfada”, Gaelic for “Long Island”. It was here that she entertained Cardinal Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII, on his American tour in 1936. The Duchess would gift the Estate to the Society of Jesus. The Inisfada mansion is now used as The St. Ignatius Jesuit Retreat House.


Following the death of her husband, Genevieve Brady remarried to the Irish Free State Minister to the Vatican, William J. Babington Macaulay. The Papal Duchess died in Rome in 1938, and her body was returned to the United States and buried beside Nicholas. In the Church of St. Patrick in Rome a large plague honors her life and contributions to the Catholic Church both in Rome and America. The Stations of The Cross in the church were presented to it by her second husband and are considered among the finest in design and craftsmanship in Rome.

Mrs Genovese Brady

Mrs Genovese Brady

The title “duchess” given to Genevieve Brady was “ad personem”, that is “to the person”. She was made a papal duchess in her own right and despite her second marriage she continued to bear the title “Duchess Genevieve”.

She was the daughter of a famous NYC police detective.

The pope also conferred the title papal marquis upon New Yorker George MacDonald — also a utilities giant in the 1920s-30s, a contemporary of the Bradys. His “Marquis George MacDonald Foundation” continues to disperse grants for various causes to this day.

The papal duchess was buried in Pennsylvania at Jesuit Provincial House.

A motor-car that she and her husband donated to Pope Pius IX is on display at the Vatican Museums.

Papal noble titles flourisshed for many years. Pope Pius XII created Rose Kennedy a papal countess. The practice waned in the late 1950s and completely fell into abeysance following Vatican II. However, Pope John Paul II granted several papal noble titles of the rank “Count”, but without fanfare nor were they published in the Acts of The Apostolic See. As a sovereign Head of State it is within his pervue to grant any such titles. Some are hereditary while others are not.

A papal duchess, a rare honor from the papacy as it was usual for a pope to confer the title “Count of countess” on people, but Genevieve Brady was a remarkable woman and a devout Catholic. In the 1920s-30s ashe and her first husband were exceeding generous to the Church in Rome, to Cardinals, bishops and special causes. They were generous in America too. Duchess Genevieve received the Latare Medal from Notre Dame and she was also a Dame of Malta and a Dame of The Holy Sepulcher. Near the end of her life she donated her vast sprawling Long Island mansion to the Jesuits who to this day maintain it as a retreat center.

She befriended Cardinal Spellman as was his patron when he was a priest in Rome although their friendship later waned.

Her first husband made his fortune in oil and gas. He predeceased her. Her second husband was the Irish Ambassador to the Holy See.

As Genevive Brady was a US citizen it was usual to refer to her simply as Mrs Brady, a papal duchess. Americans do not use noble titles in their name. However, in Europe she would have been referred to as a Duchess. John McCormack, the great Irish tenor, was always referred to as Count John McCormack…never “Mr” after receiving his papal noble title. Rose Kennedy was never called Countess Rose Kennedy but had she been the citizen of a European non republican nation she would have been. She has been referred to in the USA as Mrs Rose Kennedy, a papal countess”. I suggest that Cardinal Pacelli called her Mrs Brady out of deference to her American citizenship.


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