Crossroads (Belmont, N.C.) /
July 1, 1973, edition 1 /
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NORTH CAROLINA COLLFCTION t
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA LIBRARY;
CHAPEL HILL, N. C.
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Belmont Abbeij Colle3e
VOLUME II, ISSUE 5
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In April, 1973, Belmont Abbey
Cathedral was placed on ti e
National Register of Historic
Places which records the story o'
a nation. “It is a roll call of the
tangible reminders of the history
of the United States,” according
to the Register’s official
In 1872 Jeremiah O’Connell, a
Catholic priest, offered to the
abbot of St. Vincent’s Archabbey
in Pennsylvania (the first
Benedictine monastery in the
United States) a large North
Carolina plantation which
O’Connell had acquired im
mediately after the Civil War.
The abbot accepted the offer and
soon sent a group of Benedictines
to establish a monastery on the
“Old Caldwell Plantation,” as it
Twenty years later on Saint
Benedict’s Day, March 21, 1892,
ground was broken for the new
abbey church. In 1894, “It was
solemnly dedicated by Cardinal
Gibbons in the presence of many
Bishops, Abbots, and Priests
from every section of the
Union.” An outstanding part ol
the new building was the stained
glass windows, said to have
“received first prize at the
World’s Fair held at Chicago in
The interior of Belmont Abbey
Cathedral was thoroughly
remodeled in 1965 in an
unadorned ‘modern’ style. The
handsome stained glass, the
plaster stations of the cross hung
beneath the nave windows, and
the small wooden statue of the
Virgin high on the east wall are
all that remain of the original
ornament. The brick walls and
random flagstone floor covei ing
are left bare. The marble altar
at the crossing and the altars in
the transepts, along with the
lectern and pews, are all of
Even though it has been
modernized, the Cathedral still
contains the heritage of its early
life. For in the vestibule, a Civil
War era slave block now con
verted to a baptismal font was
transported to the Cathedral by a
graduating class of the College.
On it is inscribed: UPON THIS
ROCK, MEN ONCE WERE
SOLD INTO SLAVERY. NOW
UPON THIS ROCK, THROUGH
THE WATERS OF BAPTISM,
MEN BECOME FREE
CHILDREN OF GOD.
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