I have determined that our monasteries should not be simply schools for religion and learning but should also serve as custodians of the fine arts and thus foster greater appreciation for culture.
When the founder of Saint Vincent, Boniface Wimmer, OSB arrived in Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 1846, he set out to establish a monastery and school that would be immersed in the arts. He envisioned the arts and culture as having the same status and support as science and religion, and immediately began to assemble artists, teach students, and collect art. Through gifts, bequests, and purchases, the Saint Vincent Art & Heritage Collections now number over 4,000 objects, ranging from ancient to contemporary.
At the core of the Archabbey Collection remain nearly 200 European paintings from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries gifted on behalf of King Ludwig I of Bavaria to Saint Vincent in the mid-19th century. In subsequent decades, several hundred 18th and 19th-century European drawings and prints featuring religious and mythological subjects were added to the collection.
The Archabbey holds over one hundred drawings, design schematics, and ritual objects by the Altar Building Stock Company of Covington, Kentucky – a neo-gothic design-build liturgical furnishings studio founded by the monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey in 1862 under the direction of Br. Cosmas Wolf, OSB. Work by a variety of international 20th-century artists involved in the modern sacred arts movement is also well represented.
Collecting concentrations for Saint Vincent also include work by artists from Pennsylvania and the wider Mid-Atlantic; prints by 20th century modern artists; carving from Sub-Saharan Africa; as well as Pre-Columbian, Ancient Greek, Etruscan and Roman artifacts. Saint Vincent boasts the world’s largest collection of work by 20th-century digital art pioneer, Roman Verostko for whom the Center is named.
Janet de Coux, Saint Benedict with a Raven, 1946, stone, 72 x 19 ½ x 16 ¾ in., Saint Vincent Archabbey Collection. Photo: Richard Stoner.