Saint Vincent Archabbey: 175 Years

Father Vincent de Paul Crosby’s illustration depicts the “family tree” of Saint Vincent Archabbey. When Saint Vincent founder Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., left in 1846 on a mission to bring Benedictine monasticism to America, no one had any idea how much fruit his foundation would bear. The illustration depicts only the “daughterhouses” of Saint Vincent Archabbey.

The Archabbey, Seminary, Parish and College communities will join in celebrating this anniversary, although with the coronavirus pandemic, details for any potential gatherings may not be available until later in the year, depending on public health recommendations.

While it all started with Boniface Wimmer at Saint Vincent Archabbey, his mission spread throughout America, much of it during his lifetime.

Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota was founded by Saint Vincent Benedictines in 1856. Foundations arising from Saint John’s Abbey included Saint Martin’s Abbey in Lacey, Washington, 1895; Tepeyac in Tlalnepantla, Mexico, 1946; Saint Maur Priory in Indianapolis, Indiana (1947), later suppressed; and Saint Augustine Priory, Nassau, Bahamas (1947), later suppressed and Abadía de San Antonio Abad in Humacao, Puerto Rico, 1947.

Saint Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, Kansas was founded from Saint Vincent in 1857.

Newark Abbey was founded in 1857 by monks from Saint Vincent in Newark, New Jersey, first as Saint Mary’s Priory, later becoming an independent monastery, Saint Mary’s. From it were formed Saint Anselm’s Abbey in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1889 and Saint Mary’s Abbey in Morristown, New Jersey. The original name was transferred to the daughterhouse in 1956 and a few years later, in 1968, the Benedictine Abbey of Newark became the name of the original foundation.

Belmont Abbey, previously known as Mary Help of Christians Abbey, was formed from Saint Vincent in 1876. Monks from Belmont later founded Saint Leo Abbey in St. Leo, Florida, in 1889. A monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey was sent to establish a parish in Richmond, Virginia, in 1860. Benedictines affiliated with Belmont Abbey also established a priory and school in Richmond in 1910 and 1911. In 1988, this Benedictine Priory petitioned for independence from Belmont Abbey, and in 1989 Mary, Mother of the Church Abbey was formed.

Saint Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois, was founded by Saint Vincent in 1885. Its foundations were Saint Andrew Abbey in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1922, and Holy Trinity Priory in Butler, Pennsylvania, in 1948 (later suppressed).

Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City, Colorado, was formed from Saint Vincent in 1886. It was closed in 2006.

Saint Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama, was founded in 1891, the same year Saint Vincent founded Saint Bede Abbey in Peru, Illinois. Saint Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada, was formed in 1892.

Saint Gregory’s Abbey in Shawnee, Oklahoma, 1875, and Assumption Abbey in Richardton, North Dakota, 1893, were founded from other congregations but later became members of the American Cassinese Congregation.

Saint Vincent’s 175th anniversary celebration began in November, with a virtual honors convocation for the demi-semi-sept-centennial.

“History is important,” noted Archabbot Martin de Porres Bartel, O.S.B., in an e-mail sent to the Saint Vincent community. “Remembering the past gives insight into the future, recalls accomplishments, and provides wisdom. We begin our observance of the 175th anniversary of the founding of Saint Vincent by remembering the people and the moments who made us who we are.

“In 1846, before a brick was laid or a shovel turned, Saint Vincent was a dream in the minds and hearts of a small band of people. Dreams realized saw a community of tens of thousands sent forth on a mission—people educated and formed through our commitment to education, nurtured in the Catholic faith through liturgy and worship, engaged in the world through service, and dedicated to the arts and culture. We could not have become what we celebrate today without the commitment of monks, students, parents, grandparents, and countless friends.

“George Santayana wrote, ‘those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’ I prefer, ‘Those who remember, take to heart, and learn from history, are blessed to repeat it.’ As we celebrate the past,” Archabbot Martin said, “we eagerly embrace the next 175 years confident ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus, that in all things God may be glorified!” (Rule of Saint Benedict 57:9; based on 1 Peter 4:11).

Saint Vincent is offering a series of weekly reflection emails, written by members of the Saint Vincent monastic, college, seminary and parish communities, as well as by alumni and friends. These reflections, noted Father Paul Taylor, O.S.B., College president, “pay tribute to our founder, Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B. and our history, and look to our future in hope.”

To sign up to receive these emails or to learn more about 175 years of Saint Vincent, please visit

Father Tom Hart, O.S.B., assistant to the president for mission at the College, is leading the celebration of the 175th anniversary.

To view the Founders’ Day video, please visit