Book Commemorates Anniversary of Fire

A book commemorating the 50th anniversary of the January 28, 1963 fire that destroyed five buildings on the Saint Vincent campus, Latrobe, has just been released by Archabbey Publications. Using archival photos and narrative accounts written by those who lived through the day of “fire and ice,” The Saint Vincent Fire traces the story of the fire and the subsequent rebuilding of the campus.

Living a life of prayer and work, the Benedictine monks of Saint Vincent had been praying, working, evangelizing, and teaching every day for 117 years. Until a day unlike any other. On January 28, 1963, just before the start of the spring semester, fire broke out in a biology laboratory. Five buildings were devastated by the flames and two others severely damaged, taking out the heart of the campus, which included a preparatory school, a college, and a seminary. The monks were stunned by what seemed to be an apocalyptic destruction of their monastery and schools. But even as the flames burned, the monks’ daily routine of prayer continued, and they resiliently began planning for the rebirth of a campus.

The book retails for $21 and is available at the Saint Vincent College Bookstore, the Basilica Gift Shop, and online at