The Origin of Saint Anselm College

Ashley Dumont, Crier Staff

Today, Saint Anselm College is a Catholic, Benedictine College. The campus is located on more than 380 acres of land on the borders of Goffstown and Manchester, New Hampshire.

The college currently has nearly 2,000 female and male students partaking in a four-year liberal arts education.We have the opportunity to pursue forty-two majors, twenty-two minors, and more than sixty clubs and activities. The college is also home to sport facilities at which 13 NCAA Division II sports play.

Most students that attend this college know these things.  However, many people do not know the history of the foundation of the College.

After the diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire was created in 1884 and Bishop Bradley was put in charge of overseeing the state’s Catholic faith, Catholicism was on the rise in the area. Bishop Bradley was a strong believer in the idea of the Benedictine following.

On December November 27, 1887, the Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda gave the petition to Pope Leo XIII from Bishop Bradley of the creation of a new Benedictine parish and an attached school.

Abbot Hilary found a hilltop site in Manchester, New Hampshire to be the location for the newly discovered Benedictine College for male scholastics and clerics. It had eighty acres of land, including a house and a barn.

The founders wanted the college to be named after a patron saint. They originally chose Saint Bede, but later it was changed to Saint Anselm.

The founders collected all the funding, raised $60,000 for the project, and started building in 1891. Ten days before construction was finished, there was a huge fire that destroyed Alumni Hall, the main building of the college. They then rebuilt it beginning in 1892 and finished in 1893.

The school was authorized to graduate students in February 28th of 1895 and opened officially to students in 1889 as a part high school and part college.

This year Saint Anselm College is celebrating the 125th anniversary of it’s founding.  Celebratory events thus far have included free ice cream sundaes and a t-shirt design competition.  The next upcoming event in the series of events taking place on campus will be the Academic Convocation that will be happening on campus this Friday, September 26, 2014 at 2:30pm in the Abbey Church.

The Convocation speaker will be Father Mark Massa, Dean and Professor of Church History at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry.  He will speak on “Catholic higher Education and the Intellectual Life.”