Belmont Abbey

History of Belmont Abbey

In 1876, Benedictine monks from Saint Vincent Archabbey in Pennsylvania came to North Carolina and took possession of the former Caldwell farm to form what would become Belmont Abbey and to open Saint Mary’s College.

The first Benedictine priest, Father Herman Wolfe, arrived at Belmont Abbey in April of 1876, accompanied by two students. Classes began immediately. By the beginning of the fall term, enrollment had doubled to four.

Today, Belmont Abbey is a monastery of about twenty men. Its members have been praying and working together according to the teachings of the Gospel and the wisdom of Saint Benedict for over 130 years. The Abbey is situated on a 700-acre campus in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. While its proximity is near to the conveniences of modern urban life, it has preserved the benefits of its somewhat removed location, which helps buffer it from the distractions of ordinary life.

Timeline

1876 Benedictine monks from Saint Vincent Abbey take possession of the former Caldwell farm, and open there Saint Mary’s College.
1884 On 19 December, the Holy See raises the monastery to the rank of an abbey.
1890 The abbey starts to receive priesthood candidates from surrounding dioceses.
1891 The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes is constructed and blessed as a Pilgrimage Shrine.
1892 Construction begins on the Abbey Church of Mary Help of Christians. The Sisters of Mercy are welcomed to Belmont.
1894 Completion of the Abbey Church and dedication on 11 April.
1900 Two-thirds of the College Building is destroyed by fire. Reconstruction begins immediately, and school opens on schedule in the autumn.
1904 Saint Katharine Drexel, S.B.S., visits Belmont Abbey
1910 Belmont is created a nullius ‘diocese’ by Pope Saint Pius X, giving the Abbey Church cathedral rank.
1913 The name of the college is changed from “Saint Mary’s” to “Belmont Abbey College.” The first alumni reunion is held at Belmont.
1933 Enrollment in the Seminary is restricted to Benedictines.
1962 Belmont’s Abbot Walter Coggin begins his service as a Father at the Second Vatican Council.
1965 Consecration of the newly renovated Abbey Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians takes place on 28 March with Abbot Walter officiating.
1969 A monograph by Father Anselm Biggs on Benedictine Life is published.
1973 The Abbey Cathedral is placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Father David Kessinger, O.S.B. becomes the first trained archivist appointed to care for the Abbey’s historical records.
1977 The nullius ‘diocese’ is suppressed 1 January.
1993 The Belmont Abbey Historic District is created and entered upon the National Register of Historic Places.