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When Boniface Wimmer arrived near present-day Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 1846 to establish a Benedictine monastery the first in North America he brought 18 followers with him. His companions included three weavers, two masons, four farmers, one carpenter, a leatherworker, blacksmith, locksmith and baker. Modeling their work after the self-sufficient...
When Boniface Wimmer arrived near present-day Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 1846 to establish a Benedictine monastery the first in North America he brought 18 followers with him. His companions included three weavers, two masons, four farmers, one carpenter, a leatherworker, blacksmith, locksmith and baker. Modeling their work after the self-sufficient monasteries in Wimmer's native Bavaria, the monks began farming and herding livestock. They worked the soil to provide grains, fruits and vegetables for themselves and their students. And they expanded by building, with wood, bricks and stone. To do that they established a brickyard and hand made millions of bricks through the decades. They also cut and milled lumber, and built a gristmill to grind grain. Living a life of prayer and work, the Benedictines had been praying, working, evangelizing and teaching every day for 117 years. Until a day unlike any other in the history of Saint Vincent. On January 28, 1963, just before the start of the spring semester, fire broke out in a biology laboratory. Five buildings were devastated by the flames and two others severely damaged, taking out the heart of the campus, which included a preparatory school, a college and a seminary. The monks were stunned by what seemed to be an apocalyptic destruction of their monastery and schools. But even as the flames burned, the monks' daily routine of prayer continued, and they resiliently began planning for the rebirth of a campus. Using archival photos and narrative accounts written by those who lived through the day of 'fire and ice', The Saint Vincent Fire traces the story of the fire and the subsequent rebuilding of the Saint Vincent campus, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the blaze.
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