The statue of Saint Vincent founder Abbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., was one of the crowning achievements in the career of Austrian sculptor Ferdinand Seeboeck. In a new book just released by Archabbey Publications, the long lost story of the memorial statue is told in words and photos.
In the spring of 2003, while working with archival photos of Abbot Wimmer, a staff member of Archabbey Publications found a manuscript written by the late Father Blase Strittmatter, O.S.B., who was studying in Rome at the time the statue was commissioned and created. Father Blase was a gifted storyteller with a strong memory and a keen eye for detail. His vivid description of the life of a seminarian in Rome in the late 1920s, and of the methodical work of sculptor Seeboeck, provides a behind-the-scenes look at the memorial which stands as a testament to the evangelization work of the founder of Benedictine monasticism in North America.
His unpublished essay appears in print in its entirety for the first time, in anticipation of the Archabbey’s celebration of the centenary of the Saint Vincent Basilica, which was completed in 1905.
A team of Benedictines worked on the book. Brother Bruno Heisey, O.S.B., of Carlisle, wrote the preface and text notes. Father Brian Boosel, O.S.B., of Butler, selected the photos and wrote the photo captions. Father Paul-Alexander Shutt, O.S.B., of Latrobe, provided English translations of the letters written by Ferdinand Seeboeck to Father Blase in Italian. Brother Benoit Alloggia, O.S.B., of Noiseau, France, assisted with the photo scanning and retouching. Recent photos were taken by Bill Metzger of Confluence, Chuck Martin of Jones Mills, and Kim Metzgar of Archabbey Publications.
The book, Forward Always Forward, The History and Construction of the Wimmer Memorial Statue, is available on the Saint Vincent campus at the Basilica Gift Shop and the Campus Book Store. It is also available by mail from Archabbey Publications, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, Pa., 15650. The book retails for $11.95. With tax, shipping and handling the cost is $19.17. It is also available online at the Archabbey Publications web store.