The first Benedictines bent on erecting a monastery arrived in 1846, when German Benedictine Boniface Wimmer and his monks sailed from Europe to America. The following year, they founded the Saint Vincent Monastery in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, on still untamed and rough land. Controversy and chaos plagued Saint Vincent’s journey from pioneer monastery to archabbey.
An issue that arose and took prominence in the early history of Saint Vincent was the controversy surrounding the monks’ plan for establishing a brewery, which church temperance activists fiercely opposed. The brewery controversy exemplifies how the roles of Wimmer’s and his monks’ German cultural identity and Catholic religious beliefs clashed with American temperance progressive activism, and shows the complexities of the hierarchy and patronage system which supported Benedictine American communal societies in the nineteenth century.
American Communal Societies Quarterly
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