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Our Benedictine Heritage
Benedictine College is located in historic Atchison, Kansas, which is a small city on the west bank of the Missouri River, forty-five miles north of Kansas City, twenty miles north of Leavenworth, Kansas, and twenty miles south of St. Joseph, Missouri.
The heritage of Benedictine College is rooted in the fifteen hundred year tradition of the Benedictine Order and the more recent dedication of the American Catholic church to providing sound general and religious education to its members. In 1856, at the request of the Most Rev. John B. Miege, S.J., Vicar Apostolic of Leavenworth, two Benedictine monks arrived in Atchison with the intention of founding a Benedictine school of higher learning for the people of Kansas.
In 1858, the monks opened a boarding school and enrolled six students. St. Benedict's College was born. From the beginning, the classical course served to prepare candidates for the priesthood, while the commercial course satisfied other needs of the pioneers.
On June 13, 1868, the college was incorporated under the laws of Kansas and empowered to confer degrees and academic honors. After 1915, St. Benedict’s gradually abandoned the traditional academy, greatly enlarged the curriculum, and became an accredited liberal arts college in 1927.
Seven Benedictine sisters arrived in Atchison in 1863 to begin a school for the townspeople. St. Scholastica’s Academy for young women opened on December 1, 1863, with forty-four students. In 1877, the sisters purchased Price Villa, now called St. Cecilia’s, and moved from their location near St. Benedict’s to the present site of the Mount St. Scholastica Monastery. There, the sisters continued their academy, and in 1924 Mount St. Scholastica’s Junior College was opened. The junior college soon became a senior college and in 1932 it conferred its first bachelor’s degrees. In 1934 Mount St. Scholastica College was fully accredited by the North Central Association.
Over the years, the monks and sisters cooperated in their educational ventures, ultimately merging the two colleges on July 1, 1971, to form Benedictine College. During the years since then, Benedictine College has formed its own identity, one steeped in the history and tradition of its parent institutions.
Saints Benedict and Scholastica gave up everything to follow Christ in the monastic life. They were twins born into a wealthy family around 480 A.D. near the town of Norcia in Italy. Their parents were faithful Christians who gave them a sound education and solid spiritual formation.
Disturbed by the immoral conduct of fellow students in Rome, St. Benedict left and went to a place named Subiaco. It became his hermitage. During this time a raven would bring him food. He worked, prayed, read, and studied there for several years before founding a monastery at Monte Cassino, an abandoned Roman fortress. Taking possession of the fortress, St. Benedict dedicated a chapel to St. Martin of Tours and St. John the Baptist. In this monastery he performed miracles, wrote his famous Rule of St. Benedict, and challenged his disciples to follow Christ. Moments before his death, St. Benedict received the Eucharist, raised his hands to God and made a final offering of his life.
St. Scholastica consecrated herself to God at an early age. She later established a monastery for women at Plombariola, near Monte Cassino. As the first Benedictine nun, she followed the Rule, and was Abbess of her community where she excelled in teaching her disciples to follow Christ. St. Benedict had a vision of St. Scholastica's soul leaving her body and entering heaven in the form of a dove. The dove is a Christian symbol for her.
The earthly remains of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica rest together at the High Alter of Monte Cassino's Basilica Church under the Latin inscription, which translates, "St. Benedict and St. Scholastica were never separated in the spirit during their life nor are their bodies separated in their death." This brother and sister are patrons of the Benedictine Order and Benedictine College.
With just a short trip from Rome, it is possible to visit the Abbey of Monte Cassino and St. Scholastica Monastery to this day. For further information about our patrons read the Rule of St. Benedict, and the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great.
Our sponsors, the monks of St. Benedict's Abbey and the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery, responded to the call of Christ by traveling to the wilds of the Kansas frontier to found this school of the Lord's service in 1858. In God's providence these men and women established Benedictine College on the very land discovered by the Lewis and Clark expedition on July 4, 1804.
MOUNT ST. SCHOLASTICA MONASTERY
The mission of the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica is to steward the Benedictine Charism and share their living tradition. The Mount is a community devoted to a communal life of prayer, work and hospitality lived according to the Rule of St. Benedict. Their ministry flows out of their monastic life with a focus on empowering women, particularly the young, the poor, and those most in need, through education and the sharing of the Benedictine culture and spirituality. Guests are always welcome.
ST. BENEDICT'S ABBEY
The monks of St. Benedict's Abbey seek after Christ in their monastic vocations, striving to be Benedictine in culture, Catholic in faith, and Evangelical in words, works and deeds. From their earliest days in the 1850s as the fourth Benedictine Community founded in the United States, they were dubbed the "Kansas Monks" by their motherhouse in Pennsylvania. They wear this label with pride as they work to foster faith, education, and culture in the local churches of Northeast Kansas and in the greater world beyond. They welcome visitors at their beautiful monastery overlooking the Missouri River.