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Benedictine College: Our Heritage

Benedictine College is located in historic Atchison, Kansas, which is a small city on the west bank of the Missouri River, 45 miles north of Kansas City, 20 miles north of Leavenworth, Kansas, and 20 miles south of St. Joseph, Missouri.

The heritage of Benedictine College is rooted in the 1500 year tradition of the Benedictine Order and the more recent dedication of the American Catholic church to providing sound general and religious education to its members. In 1856, at the request of the Most Rev. John B. Miege, S.J., Vicar Apostolic of Leavenworth, two Benedictine monks arrived in Atchison with the intention of founding a Benedictine school of higher learning for the people of Kansas.

In 1858, the monks opened a boarding school and enrolled six students. St. Benedict’s College was born.  From the beginning, the classical course served to prepare candidates for the priesthood, while the commercial course satisfied other needs of the pioneers.

Elizabeth Hall on the campus of Benedictine College.

On June 13, 1868, the college was incorporated under the laws of Kansas and empowered to confer degrees and academic honors. After 1915, St. Benedict’s gradually abandoned the traditional academy, greatly enlarged the curriculum, and became an accredited liberal arts college in 1927.

Seven Benedictine sisters arrived in Atchison in 1863 to begin a school for the townspeople. St. Scholastica’s Academy for young women opened on December 1, 1863, with 44 students. In 1877, the sisters purchased Price Villa, now called St. Cecilia’s, and moved from their location near St. Benedict’s to the present site of the Mount St. Scholastica Monastery. There, the sisters continued their academy, and in 1924 Mount St. Scholastica’s Junior College was opened. The junior college soon became a senior college and in 1932 it conferred its first bachelor’s degrees. In 1934 Mount St. Scholastica College was fully accredited by the North Central Association.

Over the years, the monks and sisters cooperated in their educational ventures, ultimately merging the two colleges on July 1, 1971, to form Benedictine College. During the years since then, Benedictine College has formed its own identity, one steeped in the history and tradition of its parent institutions.

Founding Communities

The mission of the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica is to steward the Benedictine Charism and share their living tradition. The Mount is a community devoted to a communal life of prayer, work and hospitality lived according to the Rule of St. Benedict.  Their ministry flows out of their monastic life with a focus on empowering women, particularly the young, the poor, and those most in need, through education and the sharing of the Benedictine culture and spirituality. Guests are always welcome.

Visit Mount St. Scholastica

The monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey seek after Christ in their monastic vocations, striving to be Benedictine in culture, Catholic in faith, and Evangelical in words, works and deeds. From their earliest days in the 1850s as the fourth Benedictine Community founded in the United States, they were dubbed the “Kansas Monks” by their motherhouse in Pennsylvania. They wear this label with pride as they work to foster faith, education, and culture in the local churches of Northeast Kansas and in the greater world beyond. They  welcome visitors at their beautiful monastery overlooking the Missouri River.

Visit St. Benedict’s Abbey