Please click here for the latest information regarding Benedictine University's response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The Benedictine story is the story of a vision held by a small group of scholars and spiritual leaders – some of the brightest men and women from medieval times to the modern era – and how they helped establish what's known today around the world as a Benedictine education.
The University is offering an opportunity for its supporters to tell this great story and play a significant role in transforming and improving the campus landscape through the sponsorship of 10 unique gardens featuring the following Benedictine and Catholic saints and other pivotal religious leaders who have had an impact on the University.
The Benedictine Order bears the name of St. Benedict, who is acknowledged as the father of Western monasticism. In 528, he established the famed monastery of Monte Cassino. In the Middle Ages, Benedictine monasteries expanded all over Europe, preserving ancient learning and written languages. Benedictine University’s founders based their lives and work around “St. Benedict’s Rule for Monks,” and today the University continues to espouse its educational life and efforts around its values.
St. Scholastica was the sister of St. Benedict (perhaps his twin). She founded and was the abbess of a convent at Plombariola near Monte Cassino, Italy. She is considered the first Benedictine nun and the founder of the women’s branch of Benedictine monasticism.
St. Anselm was a pre-eminent theologian and has been called “the Father of Scholasticism.” He believed revelation and reason could be harmonized and was the first to incorporate successfully the rationalism of Aristotelian dialectics into theology. He was the author of “Monologium” on the existence of God, and “Proslogium,” which deduced God’s existence from man’s notion of a perfect being. This work influenced great thinkers and philosophers such as Duns Scotus, Descartes and Hegel. His “Cur Deus Homo?” Was the outstanding theological treatise on the Incarnation of the Middle Ages.
St. Cyril and Methodius were Byzantine Greek brothers born in Thessalonica in the 9th century who became Christian missionaries among the Slavic people of Great Moravia and Pannonia. Though not Benedictines, they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they received the title “Apostles to the Slavs.” They are credited with devising the first alphabet used to transcribe the Bible to Old Church Slavonic. Some orthodox churches still use Church Slavonic, derived from Old Church Slavonic, in their liturgies. Both brothers were declared “Patron Saints of Europe” by Pope John Paul II in 1980. The two saints are especially important in the early history of Benedictine (known then as St. Procopius Parish) as the founders of the school carried on the work of the two saints, serving Slavic immigrants living in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.
St. Boniface was a successful preacher and teacher. In 718, he was sent by Pope Gregory II to evangelize the pagans in Germany. In 722, he was consecrated as regionary bishop of Germany and later called “the Apostle of Germany.” He founded several Benedictine monasteries and along with St. Sturmi, he founded the monastery of Fulda, which became a great monastic center for northern Europe.
St. Bede, known as the father of English history, was the first to date events anno Domini (A.D.). He spent all of his life in the monastery, devoting himself to the study of scripture and to teaching and writing. He is considered one of the most learned men of his time and a major influence on English literature. His best-known work is “Historia Ecclesiastica,” a history of the English Church and people, which he completed in 731. It is a primary source of early history. In 1899, he was declared the only English Doctor of the Church.
St. Gregory became the prefect of Rome during the Lombard invasion of Italy in 571. He converted his home into St. Andrew’s Monastery, became a monk there and founded six monasteries on his estates in Sicily. He was elected Pope in 590 and under his order, restored ecclesiastical discipline, removed unworthy clerics from office, abolished clerical fees for burials and ordinations, was prodigious with his charities, protected Jews from unjust coercion and fed the victims of a famine. In 593, he persuaded the invading Lombards to spare Rome and negotiated a peace with the Lombard king. He greatly influenced the Roman liturgy, encouraged Benedictine monasticism and is considered the founder of the medieval papacy.
St. Peter became a professor and joined the Benedictines at Fonte Avelana in Italy. He lived as a hermit and devoted himself to intensive study of scripture. In 1043, he was elected abbot and founded five other hermitages. He became famous for his worldliness, denunciations of simony (the act of paying to receive sacraments, including those for ordination to a holy office or other position in the church hierarchy) and efforts as a reformer. He wrote prolifically on purgatory, the Eucharist, in favor of the validity of sacraments administered by simonical priests and clerical celibacy, and denounced immorality.
Archbishop Daniel Kucera served as registrar, chairman of the Department of Education and academic dean before he was elected as the sixth president of Benedictine University (then St. Procopius College) in 1959, serving in that position through 1965. In 1964, he was elected the fifth abbot of St. Procopius Abbey, and for one year served as both abbot of St. Procopius Abbey and president of the College.
In 1971, he resigned from his position as abbot to return as college president after the resignation of President Fr. Roman Galiardi, O.S.B. – a post he held until 1976 when Richard C. Becker became the first lay president of the College and Archbishop Daniel formed the first lay board of trustees, of which he served as chairman.
He was ordained an Auxiliary Bishop of Joliet, Bishop of Salina, Kan., and then Archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa, before retiring in 1996.
Abbot John Nepomucene Jaeger was born in Bohemia in 1844, the son of a tailor. He immigrated to America with his family, and at the age of 10 helped support his family by playing the violin in the Italian Orchestra of New York. At age 21, he enrolled at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania to explore monastic life.
After his ordination in 1875, he served in a variety of parishes where his language skills helped in ministry to Slavic immigrants. In 1882, he was appointed to St. Procopius Parish in Chicago following the instructions of Archabbot Boniface Wimmer at Saint Vincent’s, and began the monastic life that eventually led to his becoming the founding abbot of St. Procopius College. He lived to see the abbey title transferred to Lisle and died on February 2, 1924.