Saint Benedict's Monastery (St. Joseph, Minnesota)

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St. Benedict's Convent and College Historic District
Main Building, Main Convent, and Sacred Heart Chapel at the College of St. Benedict
Saint Benedict's Monastery (St. Joseph, Minnesota) is located in Minnesota
Saint Benedict's Monastery (St. Joseph, Minnesota)
Location College Ave. and Minnesota St., St. Joseph, Minnesota
Coordinates 45°33′47″N 94°19′7″W / 45.56306°N 94.31861°W / 45.56306; -94.31861Coordinates: 45°33′47″N 94°19′7″W / 45.56306°N 94.31861°W / 45.56306; -94.31861
Area 6 acres (2.4 ha)
Built 1882 (1882)
Architect Steil, Gregory; Stauduhar, George
Architectural style Renaissance, Beaux Arts, Romanesque
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 89000160[1]
Added to NRHP March 20, 1989

Saint Benedict's Monastery is a monastery (or convent) of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, in St. Joseph, Minnesota, United States.


The Sisters trace their roots to Saint Walburg Abbey in Eichstätt, in the Kingdom of Bavaria. Six of them emigrated to St. Cloud in 1857, moving to St. Joseph in 1863. Mother Benedicta Riepp, considered the founder of Benedictine women's communities in the United States, is buried in the monastery cemetery.[2]

Recognizing the need for higher education, they founded Saint Benedict’s Academy in 1878, which developed into the College of Saint Benedict in 1913. In 1961, the Sisters transferred ownership to the College, constituting it a separately incorporated institution. As two fiscally independent corporations, the College and the Monastery share adjacent campuses but are governed by two separate Boards (the Monastic Council governs the Sisters).[2]

Saint Benedict's Monastery has been the largest Benedictine community of women in the world, with a peak membership of 1,278 in 1946. In 2010, it had nearly 300 members and was the largest Benedictine community of women in the United States with nearly 300 members.[2]

On August 15, 2012, the 27 Sisters living at Saint Bede Monastery became members of Saint Benedict's Monastery. March 27, 2012 was the day when the Sisters of Saint Benedict's Monastery voted receive the Sisters of Saint Bede's. Saint Bede Monastery was home to a community of Benedictine Women located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The Monastery's land was purchased by the University of Wisconsin in order to use it for children's education program.[3]


Several buildings of the convent and college are listed in a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic district contains 14 buildings, as well as two other structures and five objects, and were built between 1882 and the late 1920s.[1][4]

Sacred Heart Chapel[edit]

During the early 1900s, the Sisters of Saint Benedict's Convent was expanding. There were about thirty new members each year. Because of the lack of space, building plans were made in 1910 to create both a new chapel and a college hall. The original Sacred Heart Chapel was officially opened on March 25, 1914.[5]

The chapel, in Beaux-Arts style, is the most prominent building in the town. It was designed by architect George Stauduhar. The ribbed dome is 135 feet (41 m) high, rests on a base surrounded by Ionic columns, and incorporates several oculus windows. The main altar is located directly below the dome. At the time, the roof was supported by sixteen granite columns.[6]

In 1981, the Benedictine Monastery decided that they wanted a space that reflected their new awareness of modern Benedictine spirituality. The chapel was extensively renovated, which involved rearrangement of the seating and the removal of eight of the granite columns. The columns that were removed were incorporated into the Gathering Place, an addition to the west side of the chapel. The Gathering Place hosts liturgical, social, and educational events; an oratory for the prayer of the Divine Office; and the monastery's archives. The renovation was designed by Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, with Frank Kacmarcik consulting on liturgy and design. By the spring of 1983, the new Sacred Heart Chapel was complete, with a final cost of $4.5 million. The Sacred Heart Chapel is an important symbol of Benedictine tradition and demonstrates how the Benedictine heritage can meet modern spiritual vitality.[5][6]


A commitment to education led the Sisters to open and staff schools in Central Minnesota and abroad, including in Native American communities. Since 1857, 1,653 Sisters have taught in 163 elementary and secondary schools located primarily in the Diocese of St. Cloud.

The Sisters’ role in providing health care is reflected in the establishment and staffing of St. Cloud Hospital; the Queen of Peace Hospital in New Prague, Minnesota; the St. Cloud School of Nursing; a school of anesthesia, a school of x-ray technology, St. Benedict's Senior Community and other institutions.

A key development in the history of Saint Benedict's Monastery has been its role in the founding of other independent houses of Benedictine women in the United States and abroad. It is a member of the Federation of St. Benedict, which includes Saint Benedict's Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn.; St. Paul's Monastery, St. Paul, Minn.; St. Placid Priory, Lacey, Wash.; St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, Ill.; Annunciation Monastery, Bismarck, North Dakota; St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, Minn.; Saint Benedict's Monastery, Muroran, Hokkaido, Japan; Saint Benedict's Monastery, Tamsui, New Taipei, Taiwan; Saint Martin Monastery, Nassau, NP The Bahamas; Mount Benedict Monastery, Ogden, Utah; and Monasterio Santa Escolastica, Humacao, Puerto Rico. In addition, Saint Benedict's Monastery founded three Native American missions in Minnesota.[2]

The Sisters are involved in Benedictine Friends, a program that connects students at the College of St. Benedict with the Monastery. The program is meant to engage the spirituality of students by allowing them to meet and bond with the Sisters. [7]

Notable residents[edit]

Art and Heritage Place[edit]

The Sisters opened the Art and Heritage Place in 2000 to share their art and history. The Haehn Museum features a rotating annual exhibit about the lives and ministries of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict; it includes their influence locally, around the state and around the world. The Whitby Gift Shop and Gallery offers four art exhibits a year, in addition to selling works by the Sisters and local artists.[2]

Spirituality Center[edit]

The Sisters operate the Spirituality Center for individual and group retreats, programs and spiritual direction. Known for its spiritual direction internship, the Spirituality Center has trained people in the art of spiritual direction and provides access to spiritual directors. The Spirituality Center also holds daily sessions and regular workshops in centering prayer, a form of Christian meditation. A number of other programs and retreats are offered throughout the year. Since 2007, the Spirituality Center has operated Subiaco Hermitage, a cabin on the property for individual retreats.[2]


Saint Benedict's Monastery: About Us [3] [4] [5] [6]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict. "Saint Benedict's Monastery" 2012.
  3. ^ St. Bede Monastery. "Saint Bede Monastery: Retreats and Conferences." St. Bede Monastery, 2012.
  4. ^ Mary Ann Nord (2003). National Register of Historic Places in Minnesota: A Guide. Minnesota Historical Society Press. p. 246. ISBN 0873514483. 
  5. ^ a b Trent, Sarah. "Sacred Heart Chapel". 2008. [1].
  6. ^ a b Alan K. Lathrop (2003). Churches Of Minnesota: An Illustrated Guide. University of Minnesota Press. p. 157. ISBN 0816629099. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Kane, Paula M. "'She offered herself up': the victim soul and victim spirituality in Catholicism," March 2002. [2].

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