March 4, 2011


by escott

One of the oldest parts of Saint Edmund Hall, Oxford. Photo by Anne and John Kenney.

Saint Edmund was born in Abingdon, England around the year 1175.

Street in Abingdon, England. Photo by Anne and John Kenney.

Little is known about his family, but his biographers believe that he had at least 2 sisters and a brother.   He attended school at Oxford and the University of Paris, although the exact dates of attendance are unknown.  He eventually went on the teach mathematics at Oxford. (He is sometimes credited with being the first to teach Aristotle at Oxford, while this cannot be conclusively proven, he was certainly one of the earliest.)  St. Edmund Hall, an Oxford college, is named for him.

Edmund had entered an academic life, but found he could not ignore his religious calling.  By 1222 he had left Oxford and was preaching in Calne.  In addition to his duties at Calne, in 1222 Edmund  began a 12 year term as the treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral, where he likely had some involvement with the building of the great cathedral.  In 1234, he was elected Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the English Church.

Canterbury Cathedral. Photo by Anne and John Kenney.

As Archbishop, he was often in conflict with King Henry III , insisting the king stop showing favor to his foreign barons.  Henry eventually brought in a papal legate sympathetic to himself, and Edmund was forced to journey to Rome to discuss the issue with Pope Gregory IX.  Unsuccessful in Rome, he returned to England.


Pontigny, Yonne, France

In 1240, he left England again and traveled to the Cistercian Abbey at Pontigny, which had sheltered two of his embattled predecessors, Stephen Langton and Thomas Becket.  He died at nearby Soisy on November 16.  His body was returned to Pontigny where it was interred Pontigny and still resides today.

During his life he was known as a powerful preacher, a gentle, kind leader and a particularly austere and learned priest.  Miracles were soon associated with Edmund’s body, and formal proceedings to canonize him began almost immediately.  He was canonized in late 1246.  Shortly after, the tomb of Saint Edmund was opened in the presence of Queen Blanche and King Louis of France.   There were no signs of decay or corruption at that point, and the body was replaced in the tomb.  In 1249, Bishop Guy de Mello placed the remains in a reliquary.

The Cistercian monks at Pontigny took great care of the relics in their guardianship.

Page from an early hymn in honor of Saint Edmund.

A cult arose around Saint Edmund and for many years pilgrims made their way to Pontigny.

Tomb of Saint Edmund at Pontigny.

In the 18th Century, a new reliquary was built, and the relics were transferred under the observation of many.  Both the  relics and the reliquary survived the turmoil and destruction that beset much church property during the French Revolution.  The subsequent sale of the property had no effect on the relics either.

In 1843, Father Jean Baptiste Muard formed a group of diocesan missionaries around the ruins of Pontigny.  In 1852, these missionary priests took formal vows to become a religious institute or religious order.  They adopted the name Society of the Fathers and Brothers of Saint Edmund, Oblates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  They took as their patron Saint Edmund, for whose relics they became responsible with their guardianship of  the abbey church at Pontigny.

On September 3 1849, a group of priests and delegates of the Archbishop of Sens examined the relics of Saint Edmund, which were found to be largely undamaged.    In addition to the arm, which had been detached for many centuries, small portions of the corpse that had become detached from the main were removed from the reliquary placed in paper, sealed and given to specific dignitaries.

Early photo of the corpse of Saint Edmund, dating from the 1850’s. The vestments clothing the relic were in the Sens Cathedral in 1861.

Illustration from “Portefeuille Archéologique de la Champagne”. Bar-sur-Aube, 1861. A. Gaussen

This illustration from an 1861 publication shows three textiles moved from the tomb of Saint Edmund to the Museum.  The maniple and the sandal are still housed in the Museum at the Cathedral at Sens France, where they are described as “vestments from the life of Saint Edmund.”

The illustration is believed to be a drawing of this textile, which is housed in the collection at Saint Michael’s College.   There is no information about when the textile came to America; it is probable that the Edmundites transferred it following one of their sales of Pontigny. There is no indication that it came to America in the 1950’s with the arm of Saint Edmund.

The Society of Saint Edmund retained control of Pontigny through the 19th Century.  They expanded their “missionary” work into Western France, taking responsibility for churches and schools at Mont-St-Michel, Chateau-Gontier, and Laval.   They were forced to leave France in 1903 during the Church State controversy.  This controversy, which forced the Church to divest itself of all its property, affected many religious institutions throughout France.

Although they were forced out of France physically, the Society continued to define itself as French.  They established Houses in England and in North America, but they always intended to return to Pontigny.

In the 1930’s following a period of great turmoil within the Society, they

Program from the 700th anniversary celebration.

were finally able to purchase Pontigny once again, although during World War II the Nazi’s briefly took control.

Schoolboys doing yard work outside Pontigny in the 1950’s.

Following the Occupation, the Society returned to Pontigny, establishing a French-American School on the property.

Church and civic dignitaries from both the United states and France attended the celebration, including the U.S. Ambassador to France.

In 1947, the Society hosted a large celebration at Pontigny for the 700th anniversary of Saint Edmund’s Canonization.

In 1954, the Society of  Saint Edmund, having failed to regain a strong enough foothold in France, sold Pontigny to the Mission of France.  At that time, they asked permission to remove the relic of the arm of Saint Edmund to America.  The reliquary was replaced and sealed in September and then traveled by ship to New York.  It was taken to Vermont and then later to New York City, where a Father of the Blessed Sacrament unsealed it, made a slight repair and exchanged the

linens with new silks.  While in the City, the Edmundite Fathers stopped at the Museum of Natural History, where they asked for advice about the care of the relic.  The museum curators advised against sealing the arm with wax, given its condition at 700+ years with no treatment.

Letter sent to members of Society of Saint Edmund about the arm of Saint Edmund.

Over the years, the Society of Saint Edmund has collected many smaller relics of Saint Edmund.  A few are shown here.

Through the years there have been many images of Saint Edmund.  A few of the varied images are displayed here.

In 1957, the arm was placed in a shrine at Saint Michael’s College, where it remained until 1965.It was then moved to Swanton VT.  In 2002, with the building of a new facility at Enders Island in Mystic CT, the relic of Saint Edmund was moved there, where it still resides.

May 6, 2010

Richard Stöhr Collection

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Bulk 1940-1960

15 linear feet (30 boxes)

Richard Stoehr was born in Vienna, June 11, 1874.  He was educated in Vienna and received a degree in Medicine from the University of Vienna in 1898.  Rather than practice medicine, he devoted himself to music and became a professor of music at the Vienna Academy of Music.  In the wake of the Nazi takeover of Austria, Stoehr came to the United States.  In 1939 he settled in Philadelphia, taking a position at the Curtis Institute of Music.  He moved to Vermont in 1941, joining his former student Karl Schwenger, who had recently begun working at Saint Michael’s College.  The College sought to hire Stoehr with financial assistance from both the Oberlander Trust and the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, a committee of the Institute of International Education.  The Oberlander Trust was not able to supply funding, but Dr. Stoehr did come to Saint Michael’s as the Director of Musical Activities and as an instructor in German.  Music instruction was not a high priority at Saint Michael’s during the war and post war years, and Stoehr was able to devote a significant amount of time to performing and composing.  He also taught occasionally at the Vermont Conservatory of Music.  He continued working at the college, teaching German and music until 1950, when he retired from teaching.  Until 1960, he maintained an office at Saint Michael’s, where he spent time composing.  Although it is unclear if the College formally granted him emeritus status, he was referred to as both Emeritus Professor and Composer in Residence until his death on Dec. 11, 1967.  In 1974, the 100th anniversary of his birth, Saint Michael’s College held a Memorial Mass and a memorial concert was held at Trinity College in Burlington.

Among his students were Erich Leinsdorf, Walter Hendl, Artur Rodzinski, and Leonard Bernstein, who in 1964 saluted Stoehr during a New York Philharmonic Tribute to Teachers program.  In 1964, Vienna Music Academy President Dr. Hans Sittner published a biography of Stoehr entitled Richard Stöhr; Mensch, Musiker, Lehrer.   Interest in his work wained following this period, but saw a slight resurgence in the early part of the 21st century.


The collection consists of Stoehr’s body of work and biographical materials.  The bulk of the collection dates from the mid 20th century.  In addition to compositions, diaries, appointment books, guest books and a number of photographs are among the items included.  Compositions are in either Manuscript or printed form(in some cases both), and some have been published.  There are numerous c. of some of the works, and many include complete scores and parts.  Not all of the parts are present for all compositions–available parts are noted on the inventory.  For some of the published works more than one edition is available.  The guest books and photographs are quite interesting, as Stoehr’s students are often pictured or noted, and many of them were fairly well known at the time.

May 6, 2010

Local Administration–Caracas

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Physical Description
1.5  ft. (3 boxes); 1 oversize folder

This collection has been arranged alphabetically into series.  Folder List

In answer to Pope John XXIII’s call for priests in Latin America, the Society of Saint Edmund established a parish in Caracas, Venezuela in 1964.  The Edmundites arrived in Caracas in January, where they formed the first religious house in Caracas.  In Prados del Este, the middle-class area, and in Las Minas, the barrio, local people worked with the Edmundites to build a vibrant faith community.   By 1968, their mission included a medical dispensary, library, catechetical center, classrooms and a community room in the Edmundite Community Service Center, as well as the parishes.  A Credit Union and Community cooperative followed soon thereafter.  Although it is now administered as a separate entity, the mission in Caracas fell under the governance of the Edmundite Southern House for much of its existence.


Correspondence makes up the bulk of the collection.  The correspondence is separated into two series, Superior General (SG) Correspondence and Correspondence.  The SG correspondence is arranged by term of Superior General, and includes all the correspondence between the Superior General and the Superior as well as with other members of the house.  All other correspondence, such as that among house members or between the Superior and outside entities is filed by author as Correspondence.
The remainder of the collection is primarily budget and financial reports from the missions.  There are some preliminary budgets, financial report worksheets and related materials.  The approved budgets and financial reports are found in the Treasurer General records, but these files contain preliminary drafts and in some cases, quarterly reports that are not retained once the reports are approved.
Other items include printed materials, news clippings, a history file, meeting minutes, and some legal documents.  A file of oversized blueprints has been removed from the boxes for storage in oversize collection.
Photographs have been removed to the SSE Photograph collection, Caracas file.
Note:  The Caracas collection is material that accumulated in the Generalate offices.  Most material was collected by office staff, but it is likely that material collected and maintained by the House in Caracas was added as personnel left the mission and deposited materials at the Generalate.

Related Terms
Catholic Church—Latin America—History—20th Century—Sources
Dubriske, Edward
Latin America–Church history–20th century—Sources
Lyons, Lawrence
Muehlenberger, Howard
Rainville, Marcel

April 14, 2009

Fanny Allen Hospital Administrator

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Fanny Allen Hospital Archives
The FAH fonds consists of the records of the Fanny Allen Hospital, including records of the Administrator/Chief Hospitaller, the Superior and the Bursar; the Bishop DeGoesbriand Memorial Hospital; three Schools of Nursing: the FAH School of Nursing, the BDGH School of Nursing, and the Jeanne Mance School of Nursing; the Alumnae Association of FAH School of Nursing; the FAH Auxiliaries and the FAH Associates.

The records of Fanny Allen Hospital were kept in the hospital until 1968, the year a Sister was named to organize the historical archives of the Hospital and the RHSJ community. Sister Marion Chaloux served as archivist until her death in the summer of 2003. Upon the closure of the Fanny Allen Convent in 2005, the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph decided to transfer the Hospital’s records into the custodial care of St. Michael’s College, a longtime collaborator.

For more information on the history and evolution of FAH, refer to Michael J. Healy, “Walking in the Spirit; Fanny Allen Hospital, 1894 to 1994” (1993, FAH, Colchester Vt, 184 p.)

The records of the local community (administration, chronicles, minutes of meetings, acts, necrologies, correspondence, ledgers, etc.) and the personal records of the Sisters who lived and worked in Vermont were transferred in 2005 to the General Archives of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph in Montreal.  Official transcripts for School of Nursing students who graduated between 1957-1971 are held at Vermont Technical College (802.728.1302).  Records for students who did not graduate (1951-1971) and for students who graduated between 1950-1957 are available at Fanny Allen Employment Services (802.847.2825 *3).  Records for students graduating or attending prior to 1951 are located at Saint Michael’s College Archives (802.654.2540).

FAH Finding Aids

April 14, 2009

Cardinal Mindszenty High School

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SSE 6.2

Local Adminstration

1 ft. (2 boxes)
Arranged alphabetically.

In 1950, Bishop John O’Hara, CSC of Buffalo, invited the Society of Saint Edmund to open a Diocesan High School in Dunkirk, New York. The school opened in the Fall of 1950 with Fr. Francis Moriarty, SSE as Superior. In 1964, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Buffalo took over the school and it became coeducational. CMHS finally closed its doors in 1979. The Edmundites maintained a canonical house at Dunkirk, and its members served as principals, teachers and staff of CMHS until 1964. The house (and the original school) was located in the Gross Mansion at 715 Central Avenue.
The bulk of the collection is made up of student publications, including nine years of the student newspaper and twelve years of the yearbook. Memorabilia, miscellaneous and newspaper clippings are the other items related to the school itself. The remainder of the files, including the Customs, Financial Reports and Status Domus, are related to the CMHS House. The Customs are interesting, as they lay out the activities and practices of this particular house, which sometimes differ from the Society as a whole.
Photographs are filed in the SSE Photograph Collection under Cardinal Mindszenty High School.

April 14, 2009

Historical Manuscript Collection, pre-1843 1333-1839-

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Chronological .5 cu.

This collection is made up of manuscript material dating from before the foundation of the Society of Saint Edmund. It is believed that the Society acquired many of these documents when they took over the Abbey of Pontigny. It is also possible that a member or members of the Society collected these documents from outside the Abbey. The collection was extracted from materials found in the SSE Historical Collection, which is made up of archival material created before 1930, the date at which the Society transferred its administrative seat to Vermont. Unlike most of the materials in the SSE Historical Collection, these items are not directly related to the Society of Saint Edmund. Most are related to Abbey of Pontigny, where the Society was founded in 1843. Most concern the land and property of the Abbey, including the sale of the Abbey, disposition of property, and relics, including that of Saint Edmund. Most items are in French.

April 14, 2009

SMC 1 Board of Trustees 1913-2007

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Material is arranged chronologically.
The Board of Trustees is the governing body of Saint Michael’s College. Since 1913, when it superceded the Saint Michael’s Corporation, the Board of Trustees has taken full responsibility for operation of the college and manages its property and affairs. The Board of Trustees’ record group contains minutes, committee minutes and reports, some correspondence, and general corporate records of both the Board and the College. The records provide insight into every aspect of college life from its earliest days. Early minutes are handwritten into ledgers; later minutes are typed and are considerably lengthier. Committee files from the “modern” (post-1970) Board are quite illuminating on issues of concern to the college.


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