With the Christmas season upon us finding places to tour that focus on the reason for the season are high on my list. With that in mind, you may enjoy a tour of St. Benedict, a beautiful Monastery located in Ferdinand, Indiana. After celebrating mom’s birthday in French Lick , Indiana, on the way home my sister Debbie, mom and I stopped at this amazing place. Mom and I had been there years ago, but the chapel was under construction and the school now is gone. So it was a whole new experience.
Not only is the monastery a beautiful and holy place, the history is quite fascinating both from a standpoint of the order and the women that live there. The nun that took us on a guided tour had explained that she had not been called until she was in her twenties. She had worked in factories and thought there was more to life. She found her reason to be with the Benedictines.
According to their webpage ,https://www.thedome.org/about/history/ “The story of all Benedictines begins in sixth-century Italy. St. Benedict wrote his Rule for monks living in community and dedicated to prayer and work. Monasteries for men (and then women) were established, and monasticism spread throughout Europe. In 1852, the first Benedictine women arrived in the United States from St. Walburga Abbey in Eichstätt, Germany. They settled in St. Marys, Pennsylvania, and soon established multiple foundations, including one at Erie, Pennsylvania. From Erie, sisters went to Covington, Kentucky, where they founded St. Walburg Monastery. By 1867, the young Catholic settlement of Ferdinand, Indiana, needed teachers who could speak German. On August 20, 1867, four sisters arrived from St. Walburg — Sisters Benedicta Berns, Xaveria Schroeder, Rose Chapelle, and Clara Vollmer. They began teaching at the Ferdinand parish school, and in 1870, they opened Academy Immaculate Conception (later renamed Marian Heights Academy), a boarding school for girls.”
By the 1870’s, the order moved into the structure they built north of St. Ferdinand Parish and they had teachers at 75 schools in 12 states and five countries. They established a training school for teachers and the new church was built. As time passed, the numbers declined and the barding school and teaching college closed. However, the sisters made good use of their space and moved forward. In 2015, St. Benedict’s Brew Works opened in what had been the Academy’s art building and the Academy’s gymnasium was converted into Monastery Event Hall. Benet Hall was transformed into affordable housing for senior citizens in 2016.
The Benedictines also have a bakery with some delectable treats that can be purchased along with other gifts. The true treasure though is the tour of the church and the monastery itself. The chapel which had recently been renovated brings all the wonder and reverence of the Christian faith. No matter what denomination, or for that matter, what faith you are, the beauty and magnificence of the architecture and history is enough to make a stop worthwhile!